For most of human history, the only way for the vast majority of humanity to access the exotic, far-off people and places was through stories. The tales we heard and the ones we told shaped and defined entire cultures, both to ourselves and others: folklore and literature are tied inextricably to the local people, landscapes, and societies in which they were created.

Now, in an increasingly connected world, it is easier than it ever has been to travel to the places in which our most beloved traditions were born and be part of the setting that fostered them. I called this blog “the Present-Day Pilgrim” not in the Canterbury Tales sense, although I can (and have) read them in their original Middle English. Not that that matters, I just like bragging about it. Instead, I am on a pilgrimage to connect with the past by means of the landscapes and literature still present and prominent in the 21st century.

I started this website so that I can share my experiences with you. I hope that, by following along in my ramblings, you will catch some of my enthusiasm for different eras, cultures, and the vast web of storytelling that connects us all (the metaphysical web, not the world wide one). By writing and reading this blog and countless others, we continue to participate in the oldest, most quintessentially human tradition of telling stories.

your obligatory ~deep~ travel photo

As for me, my name is Rachel, and I’m a student studying in Literature and Folklore in Context, which is a major I made up at the University of Minnesota. It combines history, art, and anthropology with literary traditions to paint a cohesive picture of cultures by the stories they tell. I hope to use my studies as an avenue to visit every corner of the world and learn entire lexicons of folklore and tradition, and I’m beginning my journey by spending my junior year abroad in Reykjavik at the University of Iceland armed only with passable German, fluent sarcasm, and a lot of questions.

In addition to my academic passions, I am also pursuing comedy through my personal blog posts, stand up performances, and snapchat stories.

Besides traveling, writing, and comedy, I love listening to the same playlist for 6 months straight, snuggling with my dogs, and talking shit about contestants on Chopped.

Follow me on Facebook for Facebook-y updates, Twitter for witty and biting humor, Instagram for #nofilter photography*, and YouTube for stand-up performances. Or all 4 for the total package.

*There’s definitely going to be filters.