The Couch Surfing Revolution

I think that if there was one thing in this world that could prove the true goodness of humanity and that could put trust back in one another it would have to be Couch Surfing.

Couch Surfing is an internet website in which a person can create a profile with the option to post pictures, describe their interests and even join some groups. Then, through this profile, a person can post if they have a couch to offer in their house to travelers that are stopping through their city.  For people searching for couches there is a search engine to easily find hosts that are offering couches in the city that the person will be visiting. It is completely free to join and free to stay at a person’s house.

The mission of the organization is this: “At Couch Surfing International, we envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to diversity with curiosity, appreciation and respect. The appreciation of diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community.”

People on the website are wholeheartedly opening up their house to complete strangers for a free stay. The people you stay with will oftentimes offer to show you around the city, offer to cook for you, and take you out at night. It’s more than just spending the night. It’s also getting to know a new person from a different part of the world and getting to know a city through that person’s eyes.

I joined the Couch Surfing nation when I was a junior in college because I was about to take a short trip to Chicago to see a concert and I wanted a place to stay for free since I was a very poor college student. My friends and I found a guy to stay with after sending out about 10 different messages. Generally you need to send out quite a few messages asking for a couch before you will receive a positive response, especially if it’s a popular city like Chicago. The guy we stayed with ended up being a really nice person and was happy to show us around Chicago a little bit and also cook dinner with us one night. And ever since my first couch-surfing experience I knew I wanted to keep doing it. I’ve been lucky enough to have even better experiences surfing in Germany and Norway.

Couch Surfing benefits both the surfer and the host. It benefits the surfer in obvious ways: saving money that would have been spent on a hotel/hostel room (possibly even on food), gaining insight into a new city through a true native, easier access to finding things in the city, the ability to see the more “underground” scene of a city and of course making a new friend. The host can also benefit by meeting a new person, making a new friend and learning about a new culture while also networking through the surfer to have a place to stay when he or she visits the surfer’s city.

The best part about Couch Surfing, though, and the reason why everyone should try it at least once is that it takes peoples’ stereotypes and present notion that we should not trust strangers and should not welcome in someone that’s different away.  Couch Surfing opens up the doors to a world that is more intercultural, more trusting and more open to change.

It is not only about sharing an open couch, but it is also about supporting a community that wants change in this not always friendly world. With over millions of surfers in over 230 countries and thousands more joining each week, Couch Surfing is a revolution.

Source: Couch Surfing

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