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Copenhagen internationals are enthusiastic ‘couchsurfers’. It is the chance to meet new people, wherever you want. It is all about trust, they say
International students and staff often make the most of their time abroad by also travelling to different countries nearby. Now, a new social networking system, couchsurfing, is giving them an interesting and cheap option to make the trips, and to meet new people at the same time.
Couchsurfing is a worldwide network for finding temporary accommodation around the world and for getting to know the local side of different cities.
The main innovation is that you do not meet people in normal circumstances: in the street, in bars, in school. You meet people in their own homes.
If you want to visit a country you look at different profiles from couchsurfers in that part of the world, and choose your host.
»Try with people who have things in common with yourself and send them a request for couchsurfing at their place,« says Kate Robinson, a couchsurfer from Australia, who has just slept on Copenhagen’ers Ian and Ola’s couch for two days.
If the hosts agree, they will offer you their couch for free for the duration of your stay in the city.
It is not necessary to have a specific profile to become a couchsurfer, and you don’t have to be an international student to do it.
»All you need is to feel like travelling, to want to learn about new cultures, and to want to meet people from crazy places,« states Ian Culbreth, an American couchsurfer living in Copenhagen.
Nevertheless, couchsurfing seems to be ideal for international students. Edward Small, a student from England, continues to host people through couchsurfing at his home in Copenhagen, even if he is not currently in his home country.
The practice of couchsurfing has many advantages. The first one is that is a cheap way to travel, since you do not have to pay for accommodation.
»Living somewhere like Copenhagen can be extremely expensive, so being able to save money by couchsurfing when travelling is great for any student,« Edward says.
But couchsufing is much more. Your hosts will typically show you the local side to the country, and some places that are non-typical for tourists.
»In your host, you find someone who knows the place you are visiting well, and who can confidently inform you on what to see,« Edward explains, »this is free accommodation and a tour guide rolled into one!«.
To be a couchsurfer host, you need to show that you are responsible and that you can devote the time.
»Having people in your house is quite time consuming because you need to be at home to let them in, make sure they feel happy and show them around town«, observes Edward.
The issue for those who have not tried couchsurfing is trust. And this goes both for the visitor, and for the host.
Ola Mlynarska is a Polish student of Human Biology at the University of Copenhagen. She says that visiting the profile of the couchsurfers, and reading their requests, is the main way that hosts make their first impression of guests before the visit. The couchsurfing network includes reviews of hosts and visitors, and this allows potential hosts and visitors to make choices based on past reputation.
»If somebody is from the couchsurfing network and I decide to host this person, I trust that person, and I build on that trust when I decide to host them«, she says.
Check out Couchsurfing.com.
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