When I say that I use CouchSurfing [CSing] to meet new people when I travel or while living in my own city, I get mixed reactions from isn’t that really dangerous? to wickedddd.
When I first heard the idea of CSing it seemed a bit odd to let a stranger into your home, possibly give them keys and trust them openly with your things. But then I realized that’s essentially what you do with moving into a shared apartment with strangers – except you live there a bit longer than a few days. I started little by little with CSing and decided to make a profile. I went to visit a friend of a friend in London and we made references for each other and so it began. She was the first one of my friends to actually use it for real while traveling through Spain, and little by little I started to become more involved and more open minded about the idea.
Since then I’ve travelled through nine different countries using CSing to meet locals for a drink or to stay on their sofa. Of course I take percautions and make sure I really genuinely trust the person from our interactions and first meetings. If I’ve ever felt uncomfortable, I’ve changed plans. But through this I’ve encountered lifelong friends in several countries through the slight coicindence that they felt like hosting a stranger that weekend [or their roommates felt like hosting one]. I’ve also gone to local events and met wonderful people who not only live in my city, but I now call good friends.
The idea is funny, of course, when explained to people not used to the concept. I was invited to a family lunch with my friend Usoa whom I met through CSing when I first moved to San Sebastian. I had sent her a message to have a coffee with me because I didn’t know anyone in the city. I figured people with profiles on CSing would be more open minded towards foreigners in general. Luckily, she responded less than an hour later and we were making plans to meet.
When I met her family at this lunch in November her mother explained to everyone that we met eachother “online.” And while this is technically true – we both burst out laughing. I always feel I need to clearly explain that the website is a place where like-minded people can create a profile and meet others who have a zest for traveling and meeting people from around the world. Because without this explanation – it sounds like Usoa and I met on a dating site. And while she’s a wonderful person, we both prefer the male species.
So while I’ve become more settled in my new city, I feel so fortunate to have been introduced to this website two years ago. It’s allowed me to travel in a way most people wouldn’t dare to do and it also has helped my transition process easier with making friends in my new country. The idea of the website and the people involved have opened my mind up to new ways of thinking, to new ways of discovering places, and news ways of making friends. I only wish that everyone would give it a chance and use it for good.
What are your experiences with CSing? How has it changed your view of the world?
(( a couchsurfer who passed through san sebastian ))
(( & made quite the impression ))