It began with a story, or rather, stories. When I was small, my father would tell them to me, but they weren't your average bedtime fare. My father had been places and done things, and he had a knack for narrative that meant I was granted vivid peeks into his past. Many were colored with his wicked humor; an old friend recently reminded me how he once entertained us (as teenagers, no less) with his "Ex Lax" story, wherein a precocious boy obtains revenge on a bullying chocoholic girl. Many stories occurred in other countries and were adventurous and even dangerous at times, like the one about his narrow escape from the Colombian jail where he heard the guards discussing who would get his shoes. The effect of these stories on a small girl in a tiny town was a spark of curiosity which grew into an almost obsessive desire to experience as much of the world as possible.

Stories alone wouldn't be enough to sustain lifelong global interest, but my father also taught me to be open minded and to seek knowledge and understanding. There is a cycle: those who experience other cultures and ways of life know that differences should represent opportunities for learning rather than excuses for fear, and they in turn impart this wisdom to their children, who often then seek to explore and learn. The practical applications of a more informed world view are obvious. How many disagreements and arguments, both on an individual level and on a global scale, really come down to misunderstandings based on ignorance of the other party's reality? Certainly many problems could be at least alleviated by the compassion that is an inherent product of experiencing another person's way of living.

Thanks in large part to my father, I am driven by a quest for understanding, a lust for life, and a desire to imbibe all the natural beauty and wonder around me. So far, I have been lucky to live in London, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, and several places in Texas, and I have visited places like Scotland, Paris, San Francisco, and Mexico. I plan to add many more destinations to the list in my lifetime. However, because I'm neither a rich person nor, as the mother of a toddler and a full time student, a free one, travel isn't really an option right now. What kind of adventurer would I be if I let that stop me?

As a Communication major, I am constantly thinking about the implications of the Internet. One of the biggest advantages of the Internet is that it bridges geographical gaps which might have previously kept us from coming in contact with people from other places and cultures. We can have international Facebook friends, blog audiences, Twitter followers, etc. The Internet has also become a wealth of global information. We might not be able to jump on a plane and visit the Eiffel Tower, but we can pretend we're there with Google Earth, and we can find nearly everything there is to know about the Eiffel Tower online (or at the very least, we can download a book about it).

Here is my idea: I will use this blog as an opportunity for virtual exploration. I will share my own experiences, some of my dad's (he still loves to tell those stories), and any other interesting stories I come across. I will learn about other countries, cultures, religions, and about natural wonders as well, all by using the tool which is quite literally at my fingertips. I invite all curious global citizens to join me on this journey.

(If you like this blog, you can also follow it at http://explorefromhome.blogspot.com.)