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Regular version of the site

Wild Travel Festival Dazzles with Hitchhiking, Volunteerism, and Dance

How can you live in Europe a whole year without spending a single euro? Is it safe to travel alone? Do you need to learn the local language of your destination if you know English?  At HSE’s Cultural Centre on January 25, guests could get answers to all their burning questions about independent and off-the-beaten-path travel at the Wild Travel Festival.

Seasoned travelers and curious novices gathered at HSE’s Cultural Centre last Saturday to share and learn about international travel—from tours of Siberian villages to travel in Africa. Guests also became acquainted with HSE’s various cultural clubs and participated in ethnic dance workshops. The open event was held for the first time by the student organization, Country Study, and the Student Initiative Support Centre.

‘We want to show that there are different ways of traveling, and everyone can travel in a way that’s interesting to them,’ says Country Study founder Edgar Babasyan.

Country Study founder Edgar Babasyan
© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

According to Edgar, Country Study members got the idea to put on a largescale event last year. ‘We hosted five public lectures about different countries. After that we decided that it would be interesting to create an event where everyone who is interested in travel—not relaxation, but experiencing something new— could gather in one place.’

The idea led to the festival’s rich and diverse programme.

Traveler Liza Chernetskaya spoke about her travels around Russia, during which she hitchhiked 7,000 kilometers. She talked about how to prepare for such a long trip, what to look out for when choosing your travel companions, and what rules should be followed when traveling with truckers. At the end of her presentation, Liza shared her main conclusion that she drew at the end of her trip.

Hitchhiking is about kindness

The guests of the event also learned about traveling for a cause. The Sphere organization presented a range of long-term and short-term international volunteer programmes in Europe that are supported by Erasmus +.

Veronika Mikhailenko volunteered in Slovakia and says it was a good experience. ‘Long-term programmes cover all your visa and flight costs, and they also give you a stipend. But students are more interested in the short-term camps. You can go during the summer without interrupting your studies, work as part of an international team, and do something useful.’

Veronika Mikhailenko (on the left)
© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

Another important topic for those gathered was how to preserve one’s travel memories. ‘We always come back with photographs from trips that are rarely reviewed by anyone. I want to help people turn their photos into something special,’ says Ekaterina Savitskaya, a Student Initiative Support Centre staff member, who led a master class on the topic.

Ekaterina explained how to make a photo book, a moodboard, or a travel book from pictures. The main thing, she says, is that when you add a little creativity, you can turn your photos into a real art object.

Ivan Kornilov and Vasily Ogurtsov came to the festival because they love traveling. Vasily, an HSE alumnus, noted that the event had something for everyone. ‘We went to the lecture, “How to Learn any Language for Your Trip”. The speaker gave useful advice: study the cultural features of the region where you are going; focus on that, rather than the whole country.’ Vasily wants to visit South America. His grandmother travels there every six months, and he has connections there. Ivan Kornilov, meanwhile, who recently returned from Asia, wants to see South Korea, a country he didn’t manage to visit during his trip.

Ivan Kornilov and Vasily Ogurtsov
© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

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