This is what they write about their organization. "CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding.
Our mission as an organization is to create inspiring experiences: cross-cultural encounters that are fun, engaging, and illuminating. These experiences take many forms. CouchSurfing's initial focus was on hosting and "surfing" (staying with a local as a guest in their home). Alongside these core experiences, we now also facilitate a growing array of activities and events.
We have a vision of a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Each CouchSurfing experience shared by our members brings us closer to that vision."
I was so fascinated about what I read but at the same time extremely apprehensive about spending the night and staying with a complete stranger. In this world, and especially being a woman, one can never be too safe so I continued to research more and asked around. I have heard nothing but positive reviews. In my quest to live outside of the realm that I am normally comfortable with, I decided to go for it.
Traveling for 5 months can be quite costly if you are not staying with someone. This will give me the opportunity to meet amazing, well-traveled, cultured people that have a passion for diversity and exploration as I do and stay on their couch or spare room for free. They can help me with places to go, where to eat and any travel tips. In exchange, I can share my experiences and eventually open my couch to them when they go to Chicago after my long journey!
Tom Hoyt was the first to accept my request to stay in his home over the weekend in Seoul. He was born and raised in Connecticut, lived in NYC and is now currently living and teaching in Seoul, Korea. He also has the travel bug and has been all over the world including India, South America and Antarctica! I had my friend Elaine come with me as well. He was not home but gave us excellent directions and left the key for us. Imagine that. A complete stranger opening up his house to someone he has never met and just left the keys. This gesture of kindness is still hard for me to grasp because is not typical in my experience.
Once we arrived, he called and said we can relax, freshen up, eat his food, and if we were interested, meet him up for a couch surfers social event where we could meet other couch surfers. We headed out and finally met our host along with 20 other couch surfers who host people and have surfed other couches all across the world. I got to meet intelligent, diverse and fascinating people. I can't even tell you how blown away I was with this whole concept. This was my first experience but this will definitely not be the last. I gave him my favorite Korean Binch cookies and some Korean liquor as a gift. I swear that these cookies must be laced with something because I find myself waking up at 6 in the morning craving these delicious delights made of biscuit and chocolate.
Thank you Tom for breaking me into the couch surfing community. I will forever be grateful to you and your generosity.
The next day, I hung out with Elaine in Myeong-Dong in Seoul before I said goodbye to her. She had to go back to Pyeongtaek since she had to teach the next day. It was an area filled with street vendors, food vendors and a lot of historical landmarks.