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Can I sleep on your sofa? An ode to couchsurfing

Victoria couchsurfing

Salma eats fish for breakfast, Denny drinks whisky and Lorna sits in prayer. I eat cereal, and cake on Mondays. We all like biscuits. They say C2s buy bourbons and live in flats, and C1s earn £30,000+ and eat out twice a week. Averages frustrate me; we’re all exceptions.

People have always intrigued me. I wanted to know everyone at school, out of school, the exchange students, anyone that entered my world. I once had ten pen friends. It started with books, and then I looked up and saw a living library around me: endless characters to meet and stories to share in. I wondered what I was searching for, until I realised I wasn’t searching at all, I was exploring. Some people explore forests, history, the sky. I like to explore people: how they live, how they’re happy, what they see.

Eating lunch at a favela in Rio

Couchsurfing in Rio meant we got to explore the favelas in a non-touristy way

Sometimes the way life goes means you have to stay put. Finding quality moments with friends is an elusive enough endeavour, let alone finding space for new people. There are stories all around us, and friends who become favourites, but I still crave the exotic. I want to meet an anarchist from Sweden, a girl who grew up on a mountain and a man who dances in secret every day at 6 pm. In couchsurfing, I found a shortcut to meaningful time with strangers.

The secrets of couchsurfing

In the library of the world, couchsurfing isn’t just the travel section. Every time I read a couchsurfer’s profile, I get excited. It’s a way to bring traveling home. It gives you an alternative map of the city and its people, pointing you directly to those who’ll share. You find secrets that it’s much harder to as a tourist. I remember meeting an inventor of miniature robots, returning to live with a group of animators and spending time in Antoine’s beautiful flat with a swing overlooking Gràcia.

Couchsurfing in Buenos Aires

In

On one trip to Paris, my boyfriend and I stayed in a different place each night. We joined a house party of artists celebrating the final night of their degree and visited a couple of photographers from Brighton setting up home in the city. We spent a final night with Katerina, a jaded but joyous Belarusian designer who dressed just like a droog. She and her undertaker flatmate taught us the anatomy of the horse and befuddled us with their contradictions. At 3 am, I was sure bedtime was nigh, but they ushered us onto the street with the promise of a hidden secret. We were soon in the deserted grounds of the Sacré-Cœur. We climbed, giggling with the beauty of it, onto the carousel and sat entranced by the city beneath.

That night and every time I meet someone new, I learn a little bit more about the world and in turn I learn more about myself. People often say that traveling makes you more open-minded, but I think it’s the people you meet that do that, no matter where you are. If you only spend time with people inside your own everyday life, interests and culture, then averages can start to make sense. The world is full of intricacies, individuals, similarities and difference. The more you meet, the more exceptions you’ll see.

This article originally appeared in Oh Comely Magazine

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Comments

  1. Fon says

    I am one of the couchsurfing member with the very nice experiences from it. I didn’t meet up with others for a long time. Reading your article reminds of how’s it like to share stories, have fun, getting new awesome persons as friends. I need to meet up with them soon.:)
    Fon recently posted..Bus from Siem Reap to BangkokMy Profile

    • Victoria says

      That’s great you’ve had some fun Couchsurfing adventures too. It’s lovely when you can keep in touch with the friends you meet along the way.

  2. Britany says

    I’ve never tried couch surfing but I’d love to give it a try at some point in Colombia. I’m curious to see if it will be difficult to find places to stay if I’ve never had the chance to host other couch surfers myself…

    • Victoria says

      It might be a little more tricky, but so long as you write a good personal message, you should be fine. If you have any friends on Couchsurfing, you can ask them to write references for you, which should help a bit. Also, I’m going to write something soon on how to write a good Couchsurf request/ how to Couchsurf safely. Let me know if you have any questions.

  3. becci kyle says

    I’ve had some absolutely amazing experiences couchsurfing in Africa and Europe ,but there were also ones that didn’t end so well. Even after the bad ones I’ll never stop couchsurfing and you’ve just confirmed it for me that there are still alot of awesome people in the couchsurfing community to meet!

    • Victoria says

      Thanks Sam. Good luck with your next Couchsurfing adventure. It’s amazing the types of experiences you can have when travelling this way. We love it!

    • Victoria says

      Really? We haven’t found that so far, but we havent been couchsurfing in a while. We plan to on an upcoming trip to Kuala Lumpur. It’ll be interesting to see how the community has changed.

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