Sophomore Isabelle Rome has been traveling the world for as long as she can remember. She has sailed through the canals of Venice, skied the picturesque Alps of Switzerland, ridden a camel across the Arabian desert, and swam in the natural springs of Iceland.
Isabelle’s first travel experience was when she was only 3 months old, on a family trip to Wyoming. “My first international trip was to Mexico when I was about one. It became an annual thing and we continued that for like ten years.” When she was five, she took her first extracontinental trip, a trip to Italy. Since then, Isabelle’s been to over 20 different countries and counting, including most European countries, Chile, and Dubai, to name a few.
Before she was born, Isabelle’s father worked for a company that required him to travel quite a bit. He also studied abroad in Russia while he was in college, further expanding his interest in other cultures and countries, Isabelle says. Her mother worked on the branding for Estée Lauder, a cosmetics and fragrance company, which sent her all around the world. As a child, Isabelle traveled with her parents on business and family trips.
Her father’s current job brings him to various countries that the company is looking to do business in. Often, such business trips present the opportunity to travel to places other than the original destination. Take, for example, Isabelle’s most recent travel experience, over spring break. Isabelle’s father had to travel to Greece as part of company work. This prompted Isabelle’s family to visit Dubai, the Czech Republic, and Austria.
“Usually it’s my mother who picks where we go,” Isabelle said. “Like she’s reading the New York Times or something and she reads about a place she thinks would be interesting or fun. Or, sometimes, she’ll want to revisit somewhere she’s been before.”
Isabelle says that her family’s style of traveling is more fast-paced. Often, they’ll go “country-hopping,” spending as little as 11 hours in a country before moving on to the next one. “There have been some cases where I’ve been to four, five different countries in a week,” she said.
That, of course, isn’t to say that they hurry through the places they visit and only visit tourist areas, quite the contrary. “We tend to stay away from all the touristy stuff, really try to enjoy the place even given the limited time we have.” Given the proximity of countries in Europe, Isabelle’s family will often take day-trips to a country, then return to their original destination before the day’s over.
After many years of traveling, Isabelle has accumulated quite a few stories and interesting anecdotes.
“One time, we were eating in this restaurant in Istanbul, Turkey,” she recounts. “So the dish I’m eating has sesame in it, but we didn’t know that at the time.” This is where she mentioned that she has a bad sesame allergy. “So I start having a reaction and they call the ambulance, and it turns out that the nearest hospital was across the bridge, in the part of Istanbul that’s in Asia. So that’s the only time I’ve actually been to Asia, in an ambulance when I was 12,” she said. “It was kinda weird because the restaurant owner and the waiter went in the ambulance with me.”
That was the only “scary” story she could remember, but she has plenty of funny ones.
One time, on a trip to Milan, Italy when Isabelle was 6, she kept seeing gypsies on the street, holding out a cup, seeking money. “The whole time I was there, I kept seeing them,” she said. “So once the trip was over, we [Isabelle’s mother and her] were in the airport and suddenly my mother couldn’t find me. So she’s like freaking out and really worried, and she’s searching all over. She finally finds me sitting on the ground, holding a cup, asking people for money.”
Having been to so many countries, and seen so many different cultures, one has to wonder how it would affect a person.
“I’m definitely more perceptive and aware of different cultures, like how they’re different,” she said, “But on the flip side, I’ve noticed that we’re all very similar,” Isabelle said that, when she’s visiting another country, she usually looks at locals her age, to see what they do, what they wear, what they’re like. “They’re usually more similar than not.”
Isabelle said that many of the places she’s been, she’s learned about in History class in some way. “So if we’re learning something in school, and then I visit that same place, I know a lot about the culture and history of it,” she said. “Also, the opposite. It’s cool visiting somewhere, then coming back and learning about that same country or place.”
Isabelle said that now that she’s been exposed to the world through travel, she doesn’t want to stop. “I think I want a job where I can travel, I definitely want to incorporate this into my career.”