Wanderlust can be described as a strong desire or impulse to explore the world, to travel to new and far off places, to discover the exotic and unfamiliar. Life can be chaotic and unexpected at times, and even though one’s sense of wanderlust may be great, there might not always be the opportunity to travel. Anyone who possesses wanderlust knows very well there is a constant, almost insatiable need to fill this void. For this reason, for me, having wanderlust is not always just about traveling somewhere physically; it’s also about trying to discover the interesting and exotic that surrounds you.
As a child, I always had the need to wander, to explore. As one of my favorite pastimes, I used to try to purposely get “lost” as a means of discovering someplace new. (Needless to say, I almost gave my parents a few near heart attacks here and there when I would just “disappear” for hours at a time). Growing up, I was always drawn to Hispanic culture, as well as the Spanish language. It could have stemmed from the fact that I grew up just outside of Washington, DC and in an area heavily populated by Hispanics, I found myself constantly surrounded by Latin American influences. In school, whenever my friends invited me to Latin parties, I found they were just more fun. I like to think that my passion and appreciation for Hispanic culture comes from a variety of influences.
As an undergrad at Virginia Tech, I decided to major in Spanish, and International Studies, a decision which led me on a study abroad adventure in Spain, where I was able to experience the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, living with a homestay in Madrid and Cádiz, and discovering the daily life of Spanish culture. It was this experience that initially sparked my inherent need to travel and experience other cultures and languages different from my own.
Upon graduating from Virginia Tech, I discovered that I wasn’t finished yet. I wanted to keep learning about Spanish and Latin American culture, and most of all, I wanted to improve my Spanish. It was then I decided to go to grad school to study Spanish and Latin American studies. I had no idea at the time what kind of career possibilities awaited me, but I didn’t care, it’s what I was interested in, and what I wanted to do.
My studies inspired me to discover Latin America on more of a personal level, not just through books. So I decided to wander. I found myself living along side the Kuna people of Panama, playing with sloths in Costa Rica, beach hopping in Uruguay and Colombia, getting stuck in a snowstorm in the Andes en route to Chile, and eventually ending up in Buenos Aires, Argentina where I lived for almost two years. Currently I’m living in Peru, embarking on a 27 month journy as a Peace Corps volunteer in the area of youth development.