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April 12, 2024

Freshman Lindsey Sanborn fills passport with more than stamps - Well-travelled student is inspired to pursue International Studies after venturing to 36 countries

By MARK RAPAPORT | September 14, 2011

Hopkins has so much diversity that it can be overwhelming. Freshman Linsdey Sanborn doesn't mind, however. She happens to know a thing or two about other cultures.

"I've been to 36 countries," Sanborn said. She keeps a list of them in her dorm room because a friend challenged her to compile it.

The list, written on three separate pieces of paper, includes classic travel destinations such as Italy and Canada, as well as more exotic countries like Kenya, Morocco and Estonia.

"Travel has shaped my whole worldview," Sanborn said. "And it has lead me to all my other interests such as Model UN and starting up my own community service group that offers aid to a Kenyan orphanage."

Lindsey, who is on the cross country team at Hopkins, says her extensive travels date back to being involved in sports at her international middle school in Amsterdam. Her teams would travel, generally by bus, to surrounding countries including Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Norway.

"Traveling has always been something my family has valued," Sanborn said. "Especially being in Amsterdam-it's such a good location for travel. It's just so easy to pick up and travel to the surrounding countries.

"Even though everything has become more unified under the European Union, every European country holds its own culture and unique identity," Sanborn said.

Sanborn recalled her most memorable track meet as a traveling athlete in Stavanger, Norway.

The race was about to start when it started hailing.

"There was torrential hail," Sanborn said. "In the month of May. It was absolutely insane, and they didn't cancel the race."

Sanborn, a Connecticut native, moved to Amsterdam at the age of seven. She eventually moved again to Atlanta, Georgia for high school. Her family's migrations are subject to her father's hectic job as a traveling business consultant.

Lindsey's travels aren't limited to just athletic events. She travels every year with her family and even took a trip in 10th grade to Shanghai, China where she stayed with a family as an exchange student.

"It was incredible," Sanborn, who has taken Mandarin lessons since 8th grade, said. "I feel part Chinese in a way."

As one might expect, Sanborn is studying International Studies and East Asian Studies at Hopkins.

"I crave diversity and I feel like Hopkins is the perfect place for that," Sanborn said. "I've always been surrounded by international people."

"I really want to do SAIS," Sanborn said, referring to the Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Every summer, Sanborn and her family go traveling. This year they are doing a winter break trip instead.

"We're doing a big family trip to China and Vietnam," Sanborn said, noting that Vietnam would raise her total to 37 countries.

"It's hard to say which country is my favorite," Sanborn said. "But I do have a favorite scenic view."

While volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya three summers ago, Lindsey was on a safari in a national park near the Tanzanian border.

"Mount Kilimanjaro was right on the border. It's one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen," Sanborn said. "It was summertime, but you could see snow on top of the mountain."

Her favorite animal, the gerenuk, a species of antelope, also happens to be from Kenya.

"Nobody knows of it, but it's my favorite animal in the world," she said. "They're everywhere in Kenya."

Traveling the globe also allows for a lot of culinary experiences. For Sanborn, a vegetarian, Indian food has definitely been her favorite-south Indian food to be specific.

"The coolest part about it is that you eat everything with your hand," she said, having been to India as a volunteer at an orphanage. "The kids at the [Indian] orphanage say when they eat food with silverware, they can taste the metal-which I totally understand after eating with my hands."

With the extensive travel résumé that Sanborn has compiled, one might expect she would amass her fair share tourist mishaps. But luckily for Lindsey, it's been mostly happy travels.

"We always end up losing our suitcases at some point," Sanborn said. "My dad plans all these insane trips where he tries to fit in so many countries at once. We also end up leaving our bags somewhere, but somehow we always get them back. My dad is super skilled with travel planning."

What does the future hold for a teenager who has already seen more than most people will in a lifetime?

Will she visit every country in the world?

"It's a goal," Sanborn said. Believe it or not, Sanborn has been to the least countries of anyone in her family. Her sister has already been to 43.

"We like to keep track of all the places we've been," she said. "My sister is ahead of me, but I will catch up."

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