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Interview with Brooke Schoenman

Welcome to the first of many interviews with inspirational nomadic bloggers, traveling the world and sharing their amazing experiences. Meet Brooke, a 20-something “Perpetual Nomad” from central Illinois who left home back in 2007 and never looked back. So far she’s been to some interesting countries including Estonia, Honduras, Kazakhstan and Lithuania. We caught up with her to find out more about her life on the road.

Hi Brooke. Was there a particular moment in your life that made you decide traveling was your bliss?

I’ve always enjoyed taking vacations while young, but I guess the defining moment for me was when I took my first trip overseas to Italy when I was 17.  That trip really sparked a need to travel again… and again!

What has been your most memorable moment on your journey so far?

Brooke in the Ukraine

When I was leaving my teaching job in Ukraine to move to Australia, my students (all 20 year +) didn’t want me to go.  One of them asked me a question in class:  “If you have children, do you want a boy or a girl?”  I said that it didn’t matter, but I then added that I would like to adopt a child from somewhere.  She goes, “Oh, perhaps a Ukrainian child?!”  I said, “Who knows.”  She eagerly chimed in, “Adopt me!

You’ve been to some interesting countries. What made you pick them?

kyrgystan BeachI’m drawn to the unusual I guess.  The main thing I was thinking is that these unusual countries are probably a bit more difficult to just travel to on a normal holiday.  I decided to make the most of my time now traveling to see the places that aren’t just a quick hop overseas, like Kyrgyzstan.  Everybody does Europe; for the most part, getting to Europe is no big deal, even for just a week-long trip, so I can always get back there easily later on.

You’re currently in Australia. How has your experience been so far and what do you plan to do there?

Brooke in SydneyAustralia has been a weird transition for me.  Overall, I love it, and totally loved the idea of coming here.  However, I’m not doing the typical traveler thing at the moment; I’m trying to establish residency.  I met my boyfriend (he’s Aussie) in Europe in 2008 before I left to teach English in Ukraine.  He was a big deciding factor in me coming here, and he is a big factor in me sticking around.  Because of that, I haven’t been on the tourist path so much while here, and that has led me to thinking about each decision I make in a different way.  Instead of, “I hope I have enough money to get to Cairns,” I’ve been thinking more along the lines of, “Ok, we need to live together for x-months and then have enough money to apply for the partner visa later on.”  I feel like I’m in limbo between staying put and feeling like a traveler, and that’s why Oz has been a bit weird for me.

Do you have any words of wisdom for others thinking of traveling for extended periods of time?

Do what feels right for you, even if that involves breaking your original travel plans!  Extended travel can open up a lot of doors and in turn take you places you may not have thought possible.  When I originally set out, I never thought about teaching English in Ukraine or making a visa run to New Zealand.  Be open and see where you end up!

Have you gone home to visit family and friends since you left the states in 2007? What advice would you give to those worried about getting home sick on long journeys?

New found nomadic friendsThe last time I was at home was in August of 2008.  The best thing to remember is that you CAN always go home if you do get that homesick while traveling.  I believe it is different for each person and their relationships with their family and friends back home.  There are times when I think I miss my family, but that’s nothing a quick Skype chat can’t fix.  A big factor in homesickness for travelers is missing favorite (comfort) foods from back home.  You can be surrounded with some of the tastiest food on the planet, but if you don’t have access to something that you would associate with home (like good Mexican food which you can’t get here in Oz), then that can make you start to miss things more.  At least that’s what I’ve found.

What location in the world that you have been to would you recommend to everyone?

The Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – are such lovely countries!  I would definitely recommend stopping there to anyone.  These countries, to me, are like the perfect mix of Eastern and Western Europe.

What locations and countries are you looking forward to visiting next?

Brooke Vs The WorldI really want to visit Georgia and Armenia, and maybe Azerbaijan.  Yep, there’s some more weird countries for you!  I was supposed to go there in 2008 for an archaeological dig, but there was a little war action in the region that kept me at bay.

And lastly, can you describe how travelling makes you feel personally?



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