This week’s Q & A is with Brooke Schoenman, the intrepid writer and adventurer behind Brooke vs. the World. From the looks of it, she’s winning! Read on to hear about why you should check out the former U.S.S.R., the best thing about flying solo and more!
GGG: Where are you from and what got you started on your around-the-world journeying?
I’m originally from a small-ish town outside Peoria, IL. I can’t really say what got me started on my RTW journeying, except for a dream to see the world. When I was in high school, I got to go to Italy. When I was in college, I went to Italy again and that made me want to see other places. After graduating, I thought there could be no better time to see the world, and the fact is: I became obsessed. Once I finally hit the road, it was hard to see myself returning to my home area in the States.
GGG: You’ve done a lot of travel in the Soviet countries. What sparked your interest in learning Russian and what was your favorite part about exploring that part of the world?
While traveling, I wanted to push myself: my boundaries and my brain. Instead of just wandering aimlessly from place to place, I felt that travel was a time to explore the world and gain skills – like acquiring languages. Russian felt like a challenge, and doing that in Kyrgyzstan was like the icing on the cake. Ever since then, I’ve had a close connection with Soviet countries because I feel as though I can see them in a much different light than the casual traveler – both the good and the bad.
GGG: You’ve done a lot of solo tripping, but also a lot of traveling with others. What do you find to be the most exciting aspect of solo travelling?
Surviving. I know it sounds exaggerated, but for me, I thrive on the excitement of making it from A to B in a strange place by myself. It’s proof to myself that I’m stronger and more capable than I think.
GGG: Absolutely! You moved to Australia recently, and living as an ex-pat overseas can be exciting but also difficult. What’s your favorite thing about your new adopted homeland?
The best things about living in Australia would be the lack of snow and the laid back attitudes.
GGG: Nice. You’ve had to work a lot of interesting jobs to save money for your trips! What was was the worst one? The best?
Worst = waitressing. Best = scoring student essays (answers were scanned in and I had to score via an Internet program)
GGG: How did you know you were going to be a lifelong traveler? Was there an “aha” moment, or was it a long time coming?
Looking back, it was definitely a long time coming. When I was a kid, I packed for domestic vacations a week in advance. I also remember scanning through the foreign language section in the back of our house’s go-to dictionary (haha, I know… a book!) and trying to pronounce all the words. As a child I was obsessed with travel and foreign languages, but the moment that it all clicked was when I went overseas to Italy in high school with my Latin class. My mom blames herself for letting me go on that trip because it was from that trip that I wanted to study abroad, and it was from study abroad that I wanted to travel elsewhere.
GGG: Awesome! Now, just for fun, let’s fill in the blank!
If I could have any pet in the world, I would have a:sugar glider.
If I had any superpower imaginable, it would be: telekinesis.
If I only could visit 3 places for the rest of my life, they would be:the USA, Turkey, and somewhere tropical.
Thanks for checking in with us during your travels, Brooke! To read more from Brooke about her life abroad and on the road, check out Brooke vs. the World, follow her on Twitter @brookeschoenman or “like” her on Facebook!