By Dani Jauregui (Granada, Spain)
My Exceptionally Good Luck
Now, I want to make it clear that my experiences are not exactly typical and you shouldn’t go into Couchsurfing hoping to come away with these results. I have had many more ‘typical’ beautiful Couchsurfing moments like getting invited to the dinner of friends-of-the-hosts who happened to be Italian Erasmus students who made gnocchi and a variety of sauces from scratch...that we ate at midnight. Or sipping late night tea on the rooftops of London. However, these two serendipitous encounters are definitely what I think of when I describe the magic of Couchsurfing.
First, I found my second family:
Back in 2014 when I decided to move to Costa Rica (without a job, apartment, or anything lined up) I turned to Couchsurfing. I had had some great experiences in Europe while studying and living abroad in Spain, but I had always traveled with a friend who did all of the arranging for me. This time, I needed to go through the whole process myself, and prepare to use it as a solo-traveler for the first time.
Thankfully, I found someone who seemed perfect—a girl about my age who lived in the suburbs of San José with her family (which included two dogs and a cat!). As if that weren’t enough, she was also studying Sociology (as I had) and was into a number of the same hobbies as I was. She eagerly accepted my invitation to the great relief of my parents, who felt slightly better about the nice family I had waiting to receive me.
Once I arrived in Costa Rica, I was graciously welcomed into the family (by the human and furry family members alike)! I had originally asked to stay with them while I was in the process of house-hunting (what I imagined might take about a week) but as the days passed I felt more and more at home. Fast-forward nearly three months and I was STILL living with them!
Again, please note this is not normal, but the family had had a number of exchange students stay with them before and seemed to more or less expect me to stay long-term as well. Over my three months in Costa Rica I built a special relationship with each member of the family and still stay in touch with them until this day, not hesitating to call them my “Costa Rican mom, dad, brother, and sister” anytime someone asks.
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