Find an insurance, correct those last two sentences in my proposal, visit my grandma before my departure… I’m sitting in the train and think about all the stuff I need to do before I go. Suddenly a man takes places in front of me. A smell of tobacco and old sweat reaches my nose. He is fat, a bit shabby, not very attractive. “Which book are you reading?” he asks. Not sure if I want to engage this conversation I reply “Alone in the World”. Five minutes later we are talking about his life; he is half-polish, half-Belgian and painter but has a lot of other activities besides. He is interesting but my thoughts are fussy and I keep thinking of all the stuff I need to do. I’ m still stressed from past month and my departure is in less than a week. The preparation of my research project turned out to be harder then I previously thought.

I am Anna, 24 years old, student of forest and Nature Conservation will go to Madagascar to study lemurs for four months. More specifically, my research will be about the microbiota of the lemurs. That means travelling, hiking into the jungle, look for lemurs and see amazing flora and fauna. Everybody I know would be completely hysterical about going there. But I am not. Not yet. Like I said before, my head is still busy with all the stuff I need to prepare. I would rather stay some more weeks to see the people I love and take my time. Sometimes I even wonder why I would go so far. Why would I spend so much time, energy and money in something so far away? What am I searching for? The train slows down and we arrive at the station. The big shabby guy asks me: “Hey lady! Would you like a cup of tea?” Why not? I have to wait anyway 20 minutes for my next train. And that is how I end up sitting on a terrace talking about life with this interesting person. The sun is shining.

And suddenly I remember. I remember why I like to travel: To meet and to encounter, to see, to step for an instant in someone else’s world and by this grow and expand my own bubble. And in the end, hopefully leave something positive behind. The big shabby man is sitting in front of me with a big smile from ear to ear and twinkling eyes.