Up until now, Couchsurfing has never been something that I could really do. We had a spare room in my grimy student house in Birmingham but, really, it was a pretty undesirable location and none of us could really be arsed to put the time or effort into it. Besides, we were in our final year of university, and the slithers of free time that we did have constituted of alcohol, sleep or food – all tinted with a wonderful mixture of guilt we weren’t studying, anxiety of possible impending failure and craziness.
Now that I have escaped the confines of full time education and am living in Amsterdam, however, I’ve found myself in a perfectly located canal house with a spare sofa and a never ending desire to see more people. Living in Amsterdam is incredible and I have loved every second of it so far. Familiar faces, however, are few and far between – especially when working in a job with only a small handful of other people!
So Couchsurfing sounds perfect for me, right? Well yes, absolutely. Meeting new and exciting people with similar interests to me and who are excited about being in the city I live in, hopefully making friends and creating a lot of couches around the world for me to choose from. Except for one tiny problem. The person that I live with wasn’t quite as sold as me.
My boyfriend had reservations, and was less than enthralled that after his vague agreement to do it sometime in the future that I had created a profile for us and had agreed to our first surfers. His reservations – although I wasn’t as sympathetic at the time – were actually pretty sensible. Will our things get stolen? Will they be weird? Will they keep us up if we don’t want to go out? Will it be awkward? Will they just treat our place as a free hotel?
Ultimately Couchsurfing requires welcoming strangers into your home, and it definitely takes a certain element of trust. But I edited our profile slightly and made it pretty clear what we were like and our boring house rules. One being that we have no spare key and very nice neighbours we have to consider… so if guests don’t want to go out with us then after 12 they kind of just have to come back. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-RING. I did cringe writing that one, but it had to be done to satisfy the apprehension.
Our first Couchsurfers turned around two weeks later. A Canadian young couple travelling through Europe. Although they also had to share a room with two of our other friends due to (almost) lost passports and a vandalised car, we had such a great time with them. There was no awkwardness, no obligatory touristy stuff and a very hazy evening followed by afternoon chilling around the city. All of the apprehension was dispelled from pretty much the moment we opened our door.
It’s such a great way to meet awesome people from around the world. Hopefully our next experience will be as good as the first!