When couchsurfing is more than surfing a couch

When couchsurfing is more than surfing a couch

I have been using couchsurfing since 2008, so it’s been 10 years now. But I have probably had the best experiences over the two years. Apart from staying at people’s places we also hang out together, we walk, we talk, we share. And from time to time I get to be involved in some special activities.

I have already mentioned my host Kateryna who hosted me in Kiev in Ukraine. She invited me to participate at her event as a guest. She held a workshop about couchsurfing and I was there to share my experience both as a host and a surfer. Because that’s what is at the heart of couchsurfing – sharing.

My host Kateryna (Kiev, Ukraine)

My experiences got really interesting in China. Abao hosted me in Chengdu, the city famous for its pandas. Abao is a yoga instructor and he invited me to a yoga session. And that was the first time when I actually did yoga for real. I had done it for a bit with friends before but this was different. Boy, was I sweating! I think he can’t have seen a person who was more stiff than me. I don’t have pictures from some of the events or situations but if I had pictures from this one would be hilarious.

My host Abao (Chengdu, China)

When I look for hosts I try to find people with similar interests, job, etc. because I like to have something in common with my hosts. Being a teacher I sometimes get to be hosted by teachers like in the following cases.

My next host in China was Chen. She hosted me in Leshan and she is a teacher of future nurses. On the second day she asked me to come and talk to her students during a lecture she gave. And so I gave an impromptu ‘class’ to a group of 40 nursing students, all girls. It was a creativity course. It was so unexpected that my preparation only lasted 10 minutes and I just copied a few videos to a USB stick. After I had told them something about myself, my country and my big trip, we swapped roles and the students gave me tips what to visit, they sang and danced for me and wished me a nice trip. One student wished me something like ‘have a great round the world trip, safe travels and I hope you will meet a girlfriend on Valentine’s day and you will travel together’  It was a very cool cultural exchange.

My host Chen (Leshan, China)
My impromptu class with Chen

In Kumning I was hosted by Myke. He is an English teacher and is originally from the UK. Apart from walking and eating out together I joined him to his event – Monday English speaking movie evening. He organizes it in his free time just to help students learn English better, and what is great is that students from other classes can join. We watched the film “Pay it forward” that evening, an inspirational movie with Haley Joel Osment. I loved the movie.

My host Myke (Kunming, China)

In Nanning I was hosted by Nancy, another English teacher, originally from the USA. She also invited me to one of her classes and so I had a chance to talk to a different group of students. After the class some of them wanted to talk to me, and so we hung out and went to eat to the famous ‘Dog Hole’, a place with a bunch of eateries with cheap food for students.

My host Nancy (Nanning, China)
Nancy`s students

Ammy hosted me near Buri Ram in Thailand. And guess what! She is a teacher, too. While I was staying with her, there was a Children’s Day in Thailand. And so I had a chance to experience something new again. I went with Ammy to the school she worked in and she showed me around and I could participate in the school event and see how the children were given some presents and also how they performed. In addition, Ammy and I went on a short road trip and had a lot of fun trying some funny wigs and exploring a temple I had no idea existed.

Children`s Day in Thailand
Children`s Day in Thailand
A road trip with Ammy
A road trip with Ammy
A road trip with Ammy

It sometimes works the other way round. One of my guests – Andy, an English teacher from the USA suggested that he join me to one of my English classes. I was very surprised that someone actually wanted to go and meet my students, but my students were up for it and so they had a chance to practice their English with a native speaker while Learning something about the US and also Colombia where Andy had lived and worked for a while. Together we also hiked to Snezka, the highest mountain in the Czech Republic.

My guest Andy and I at the top of Snezka

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