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“You have to match with your travel companion”

“You have to match with your travel companion” “You have to match with your travel companion”

Polina Putrik (29), a Russian PhD candidate at the Department of Health Promotion and Education who has seen 16 per cent of the world

 

Polina Putrik has quite some experience with travelling; she has lived in more than seven countries, sometimes for a couple of months, other times even for years. “I’ve studied or worked in various places. But my most special experience was when I was volunteering in Ecuador. I worked on a farm on one of the Galápagos Islands. The native plants there are dying. They’re being overrun by plants that were introduced later from outside the islands. We tried to restore the original ecological system by seeding and growing native plants. We also worked on the water pipes constructions and as horse riding teachers for small children. It was a group of twelve people from all over the world. It was challenging sometimes but also exciting, because we did something that none of us had ever done before. The local people speak differently to you when you work with and for them than when you’re a tourist. They open their heart and minds.”

It was the first time Putrik had travelled alone. “I wanted to do that once in my life. You’re more open to everything.” Although she prefers to travel with friends, a good travel companion can be hard to find. “Ernest Hemingway said: ‘Never go on trips with anyone you do not love’. I think that’s very true. You spend a lot of time together, so you have to match otherwise it’ll ruin the experience.”

Something that has luckily never happened to Putrik. “There have been situations that were unexpected, but never bad. I think it’s a matter of attitude. If you have great expectations of exactly how everything should go, you’ll be disappointed. I’m more of a go-with-the-flow kind of traveller. I read a bit about the country but I don’t make a plan.”

Putrik started travelling at a young age. “I took every chance I got. I had a good example – my parents travelled a lot – but it’s not just that. My sisters don’t travel that much. It’s also in me. You can learn so much. It’s made me much more flexible; there’s more than one way to approach things. For instance, on our maps Europe is always in the middle. That’s just one angle to see the world; there are many more.”  

After all these experiences, she does have a favourite country. “Spain. I lived there for a year, but I think you could explore it all your life. It changes completely as you go from north to south. I love the weather, the food, the way people communicate and behave – it’s very charming – the culture and the fact that you can feel its rich history everywhere.”

 

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