I Let A Stranger Stay In My Home

I Let A Stranger Stay In My Home

A stranger stayed in my home and it was an awesome experience.
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Couchsurfing is definitely not a thing you hear of every day.

To couchsurf is "to stay overnight in someone else's home while traveling."

Now, a lot of people aren't privy to the idea of opening your door to a total stranger for a multitude of reasons, the top ones being along the lines of a serial killer or sociopath. And, while these are great points to be concerned about, luckily you get to pick who you want staying with you or if you're doing the surfing, who you want to stay with. It has to be a mutual agreement. You don't need a spare room or an empty apartment for them, all you need is a couch or cot for them to sleep on.

This is a website, https://www.couchsurfing.com/ that many backpackers find themselves on while traveling for the simple reason that it saves them money on accommodation as well as, you get a cultural experience out of it if you're living with the people from the country that you're visiting. It's pretty rewarding on both ends as you get to meet people from around the world in your own home.

It could be scary to think about, letting a stranger into your own home but I did it and it was one of the best experiences for me personally. At first, I was worried about my safety even though the girl who stayed with me seemed totally normal and interesting, but, obviously, in the back of my mind I couldn't help but think what if it goes wrong.

Luckily for me, she was exceptional and gave me a really good vibe about couchsurfing because it really isn't all that frightening. You have more in common with the world than you think. Connection is all over the place. As Americans, we seem to have a skewed view compared to many other countries about traveling (maybe that's why just 30 percent of Americans even have a passport and only nine percent study abroad).

I've heard of many different forms of travel, but this one is definitely worth looking into. Obviously, common sense has to play a role here as you can't just let anybody in. But the world isn't as big and bad as the media portrays it. I've heard of a couple situations where the host was weird or gave off creepy vibes, but just like with anything, you need to be smart about it. I talked to the person I was hosting a couple of months before and up until she arrived; she even brought me a little gift from Australia, which was very cute and sweet. My friends and family met her and we even spent Easter together. She even stayed a few days longer than expected as well because we were having a good time.

I would recommend couchsurfing as long as you're smart and safe about it because there's nothing like meeting new people and welcoming them into your home. I may sound crazy, but saying that you let a complete stranger into your home and shared meals with them, laughs and, by the end of the week, sharing a bed because of how comfortable we became was incredible.

I thought of her as my little sister; this friendship was nothing like I ever made before. And now, I have a place to stay in Australia.

Bottom line: the world isn't as bad and scary as you think it is. There are many, many more good people in this world than there are bad.

Cover Image Credit: Hanny Naibaho

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.

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For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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