Written by Erin Dunne, Athletics Media Relations Student Intern

NEWARK, Del. -- As a collegiate student-athlete, one spends hours crammed into a bus alongside 40 or more teammates, traveling up and down the country for competitions.

But University of Delaware rowing team member Olivia Brady is no stranger to travel. The Herndon, Va. native has spent the duration of her life traveling, visiting Mexico from the time she was two to studying abroad in Chile through the UD Institute for Global Studies program last January.

In fact, her adventures have taken her to an astounding total of 29 countries at the nice young age of 20.

Olivia's first international travel
was to Mexico as just a baby

For Brady, traveling is more than just an opportunity to visit the beautiful sites of foreign countries, it’s a bonding experience for her and her mother.

From the time she was five months old, Olivia and her mother, Mary, have taken a trip every year and a half to learn about the culture of another country.

“It’s really just been me and my mom growing up,” stated Olivia. “We just really like to travel, we wouldn’t want to have a big house or lots of cars. We’d rather use our extra money for going places.”

And the places they've seen...

Olivia Brady says she inherited her adventurous spirit from her mother and believes the many trips they have taken together have inspired her in her college education.

The junior is a double major in triple language and international relations. She believes she would not be studying what she is today without her experiences.

“I definitely think traveling is important," said Brady. "People need to understand other cultures. You don’t understand the importance of it unless you do it. It’s kind of like a college education, you don’t understand how important it is until you go.”

Traveling is a tradition that has both bonded them together and opened their eyes to what is happening across the globe. For Mary Brady, traveling with her daughter provides a balance to their trips, since they have been doing it for so long.

Olivia on a safari in Tanzania

“I love that Olivia loves to travel with me and that this is one way we can be making memories together - just the two of us.  I hope we do this for the rest of our lives,” exclaimed Mary. “We are planning our next trip right now and I am really looking forward to it yet again. I love that she does research into the area we are going and comes up with suggestions that I may not have thought of. I love that she goes through logistics and knows that things don't magically happen.”

Mary says her passion for traveling has been marked by many tears and much laughter alongside her daughter. The pair has visited their family farm in Wales, the opera house in Sydney, woken up to Mt. Fuji in their view, been robbed in Venice, and seen Machu Picchu at dawn.

In every country, the Bradys have attempted to immerse themselves fully into the culture by staying in old houses or castles, dressing as the locals would, and eating native foods. The lessons these two have learned is something that can only come from the many cultures they have experienced together.

“I guess it kind of shows that everyone just kind of comes from such a different place, and everyone has such a different story,” noted Olivia. “You can’t judge people based on what you know because they know completely different things.”

While Olivia says she can’t begin to calculate how many hours she has spent on an airplane, she can understand the impact that these trips have had on her life. She recalls a trip to Tanzania in Africa in January, 2015 that truly opened her eyes to the extreme poverty of the world.

Olivia helps a young boy as
  part of a volunteer trip to NIcaragua

“I went to Africa last year and I guess I thought I knew what to expect," she recalls. "You see these commercials all the time that the country is poor, but then you get there and you see people living on the side of the road in a mud house. People have to leave their houses for days during the rainy season because their entire house will just flood and fall apart.”

According to Olivia, the level of poverty is something that her textbooks will never show. She believes that the experience of seeing something first-hand is the only way to truly understand how a Third World country lives.

“No amount of schooling can prepare you for what it’s actually like. The most eye opening thing for me has to be the poverty and seeing the poorest people in parts of the world,” said Olivia. “That has really changed how I’ve been here (in the U.S.) with consumerism. I don’t just throw away things or buy things here or there. I really  don’t take things for granted anymore.”

Since she arrived at Delaware, Olivia has gained a new appreciation for traveling. Her studies in the classroom make her understand countries in a new light when she goes to visit. She believes that her goals when visiting another country have shaped to fit this understanding.

“My goal is to get to know the people, rather than doing things just as a tourist,” Olivia commented. “I feel it's really important to do that because everyone has such good perspectives on life when they don’t come from the same place as you do.”

Olivia plans to continue this tradition of adventure with her own family in the future and wants to enter the Peace Corps after graduation. She hopes to eventually settle in Africa and assist in building family planning institutions because of the limited access the country has to these resources.

From safaris in Tanzania to sightseeing in Iceland to wine country in Siena to mission work in Nicaragua, Olivia has leveraged her many experiences as an opportunity to better herself and learn about the cultures of the world.

As for her favorite country, Olivia says it is hard to choose just one.

“I feel like every time I come back from a new country, that’s been my favorite one."

Olivia Brady's World Tour


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