”You have got to visit Denmark and the crazy Roskilde festival”, a friend from Brazil told Kristina.
I watch as my interviewee takes her coat and hat off, raindrops running down her cheeks, asking me if I want a cookie. I always want a cookie.
At the time of the proposal, Kristina had just turned 18. Being broke, she decided to bring a friend and sign up for volunteering. Last minute the friend canceled on her and left Kristina with a big decision.
”It is kind of thanks to my mother that I finally went. She told me that I should get used to travelling alone if I want to be a journalist.” Kristina, who had neither been to a festival nor travelled by herself before, packed her bags, dealt with a decaying relationship, and flew to Denmark. Her fear of feeling alone was confirmed during the first days as she struggled with the language barrier. Being mostly comfortable with Russian, she eventually forced herself to start talking to people. It is then her life started changing.
”I clearly remember one afternoon. I had a break from cleaning and felt kind of ragged but the sun was out and I ended up drinking tea with a 23-year-old girl from the US. She was blond and slim and told me that she traveled Europe with barely a penny in her pocket.”
”This girl”, Kristina continues, ”really opened my eyes. She went on about us being so depended on our comfort, emphasizing how stupid that is, how limited we get.”
Kristina glows as she shares this, and I can’t help but look back on similar meetings, recalling the empowerment. 170 000 people participated in the Roskilde festival that year and I imagine how small and insignificant one can feel, but also the variety in characters and the potential of getting stories. Story junkie. And I imagine the impact it can have on a fresh graduate.
”Coming home I felt like a new version of myself. I chopped my hair off and indulged in the sensation of having no more limits.”
I am curious about how an upbringing in Ukraine might have affected her attitude towards traveling; alone and/or as a girl.
”I actually grew up with cool and supportive parents who were anxious to strengthen my independence, who worked hard to give me this kind of life. The one thing was that I might have been a little scared to travel to Asia and Turkey because of how the places are portrayed here. But after my trip to Denmark, I am actually not as uncomfortable by the thought of going there.”
She admits that a little more planning is optimal, though. She hadn’t done research on how to reach Roskilde festival from the airport. I suggest that it might be a matter of comfort and Kristina agrees out of experience – asking people is an interesting option.
To my question about traveling in her home country, she eagerly replies:
”Go there! The biggest barrier is probably the language, not many speak English. The western parts are more European. People often know English, are open-minded and nature there is absolutely stunning. It is a country of intense differences, very easy to get around by bus and train.Maybe hitch-hiking is not the best, especially when traveling solo. Also, like any other cities, we do have parts that are best avoided”.
I already feel tempted to book a ticket.
”You have to try Borscht soup!”, she adds as the interview is coming to an end, ”Preferably my grandmother’s but an authentic restaurant might do.”