The stories of a couchsurfer

Claire, Cagnes-sur-Mer

It’s amazing to see how networking with people can be beneficial to oneself. Sometimes these benefits can manifest themselves in the most subtle of fashions, and other times they can be more evident.

Here’s a case in point. Early last year I host a German girl by the name of Linda. Linda is about to commence a semester of study in Adelaide and she uses Couchsurfing for the first few days to look around for some more permanent accommodation.

Eventually she finds said permanent accommodation but we remained in touch. Linda has a birthday party that doubles as a bit of a housewarming in her new place. I attend the housewarming and meet there a few French. This group of French are in Adelaide to do an internship of sorts.

One of them goes by the name of Yannick.

Yannick and I get along pretty well and we catch up a few times at the pub. A little while later, things fall through and Yannick and his housemates have to move out of the house that they’ve only recently moved into.

I offer for Yannick to stay with me for some time while he can sort things out. An interesting car ride with all sorts of furniture strapped onto the roof racks later, we arrive at my place and he stays for a few days and we have an opportunity to learn more about each other.

Fast forward to now and I’m in Rousset-les-Vignes with the intention of the next stop being Nice. Despite sending a plethora of Couchsurfing requests, my efforts are in vain and I can’t find anywhere to stay in the area.

Yet Yannick originally comes from Nice and so he offers to help. He responds a few days later saying that a friend of his will be able to help me out for a few days.

It’s here that we meet Claire. My “Couchsurfing” host during my visit in Nice. Yet, neither she nor Yannick are Couchsurfers and indeed Claire had only just recently discovered the concept through Yannick.

Claire becomes that rare exception to the people of the area. Indeed, the hospitable, friendly people here do exist, and Claire is living proof of that.

Things were slightly different because she was not an actual Couchsurfer and I presume that she wasn’t really used to the concept of allowing strangers into her home. This meant that there was a bit of walking on eggshells to begin with, but it was completely understandable.

Compounding this was that we didn’t actually see each other too much. This is due to the fact that Claire is an extremely active person, pursuing many interests. One night she had music lessons and the following was playing in an orchestra. She enjoys many outdoor activities such as sailing (typical here in the south), hiking and skiing.

This is something interesting about the French though. They are extremely active people, and it’s been quite rare in my current travels to meet people that will just laze around for an entire weekend. No, here they pursue activities, whether it be like Claire and undertake various sports or to visit museums and exhibitions or to simply go out to a restaurant to dine.

Claire also had a housemate that was working with her, Salina. Salina is a German girl that is living in France to do a period of work to benefit towards her university studies. Proving that the world is not so large after all, she revealed that she had actually lived in Adelaide for a year herself and so we had plenty in common to chat about. I think she was thankful to be able to speak English to somebody (as was I to be honest).

Salina and I talked a fair bit about travel and life and she gave me some great tips on when coming to Germany.

And so I managed to create another element to my network of people. In a most unpredictable manner. But that’s how networking always happens. Which is why it’s important to put yourself out there to meet new people along the way. Not just because you’ll meet somebody interesting and can learn from them, but because you’ll never know how you’ll benefit in the future.

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