This summer I set out to try something that I have never done before; I set out to give my travelling experience a little twist by trying out Couchsurfing.
With Couchsurfing, instead of going to a hotel you find a host who willing will let you borrow there couch or spare beds during your stay in the country you are visiting. Whilst I was only introduced to this in May 2013 a look at the history of the site (www.couchsurfing.org) suggests that it has been going strong since 2008.
Excited by the simplicity of the idea – which offers the possibility of not only experiencing the country from a different perspective but opens the possibility of developing new friendships – my two friends and I couldn’t wait to find a host in Paris (where we were visiting).
As time worked its magic the day descended on us before we knew it and here we were just arriving in Paris and trying to navigate our way around to find where we will be living for the next few days. Whilst I was amongst the comfort of my two other friends I was suddenly overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe we were actually doing this and for some reason my mind decided that now would be the best time to entertain the idea of being faced with serial killers.
But that’s when I realised that as much as we place irrational fears about what people are like, it is also possible that people may have these same doubts about us; which when you think about it sounds pathetically silly. Surely, we all just want to have a good time, meet nice people and experience the beauty of the world. Whilst I will not completely disregard the notion of the dark side of human nature, initiatives like this really spread the values of love and trust, by creating an environment where people who genuinely mean well are able to meet like-minded people.
Whilst I did I have my doubts waiting outside of the apartment doors whilst our host was making his way downstairs, my initial feelings of excitement and joy returned when he emerged from the door with a warming smile on his face. Nothing would have prepared me for the amazing few days spent in Paris; doing the usual touristy thing but also being able to fully immerse myself in Parisian culture with our new friends.