1. travel through an (unfamiliar) area in order to learn about it.
2. inquire into or discuss (a subject) in detail.
I tend to “explore” according to definition 2. You’d think I’d be quite the globetrotter, since I live abroad and have always had a passport. However…
I am not a bold or unconventional traveler. I have never backpacked and have never found the idea appealing, either. I “interrailed” once on the coastal steamer that goes up Norway’s coast from Bergen to Kirkenes and back, but we had a roof (deck) over our head and access to a shower. We slept in the 3rd class lounge. (I don’t think they have 3rd class any more.)
I will use an outhouse (I grew up with one so that doesn’t faze me). I will use public restrooms (see previous sentence about outhouses).
But I don’t watch travel programs. I don’t voraciously read travel magazines or read up on other countries (even though I grew up with somebody who did). I pick my vacation abroad out of a catalogue and let the tour guide tell me about where I am.
I have sometimes felt guilty about my lack of interest in “abroad”. Why am I not as excited about foreign lands or foreign people as other people are?
My best theory is that it’s because I am already always “abroad”. If you alter definition 1 a bit to read “live in a (unfamiliar) country in order to learn about it,” you see what I’m actually exploring—living in a foreign country. The local quirks and habits of both people and language. The customs, the foods, the oddities, the niceties. The woven paper hearts on the Christmas tree, the oversharing when drunk, the blank stare when you do something not Norwegian or ask them about something that seems blazingly obvious to them, the adding of ketchup to spaghetti with tomato sauce (they’ve stopped doing that now), the years spent trying to nail down exactly how to wish someone a happy new year.
This explorer stays busy staying at home.