Deadlines, deadlines. Walk by any photocopier in the college at the moment, or into Room 34 and you will see students beavering away putting the final touches to assignments. Roll on the summer holidays…
So, June comes around and all your mates are heading off on cheap packages holidays with lots more Irish people. Those who are a bit more organised and have a bit more interest in culture might choose the Inter-railing option. Or, you could try CouchSurfing.
CouchSurfing may be a new term for some, but it has been around since 2003, according to the official website. So, exactly what is it? According to the site:
“CouchSurfing members share hospitality with one another… Hosts have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world without leaving home. “Surfers,” or travellers, are able to participate in the local life of the places they visit”.
In English that means you get to stay in the home of someone you’ve never met in another country, and then back in Dublin you offer up a bed (or couch) to someone else on their travels.
A new show on TG4 Ó Tholg to Tolg might offer some inspiration to anyone thinking of trying a new approach to their summer holidays. Áine Goggins and Maeve Hackett are two twenty-somethings who took a 3-month trip around Europe last summer, filming the 10-part series and speaking Irish as they went. The girls stayed with over twenty different hosts and got very personalised guided tours. In Holland they stayed in a squat with 250 other people, in Berlin the girls heard from their 21-year old host how today, German youngsters still struggle with the legacy of Nazism. In Minsk, they helped feed the homeless, in Prague and Bucharest they had to earn their bed by doing chores for their hosts, in Dresden they stayed with a transsexual with a rather unusual hobby. In Valencia they were hosted by a married gay couple and in Madrid they bunked with an award-winning porn actor.
Ok, you may well be thinking you’d like to do this but are a bit worried that you may end up in the house of a serial killer. Firstly, go to the CouchSurfing website and sign up. CouchSurfing has implemented several precautionary measures for the benefit of its surfers, hosts, and community. Every user is linked to the other users in the system through a network of friend links, references, and vouching. The voluntary verification process checks a member’s identity and address. Once the process is completed a members profile identifies them as a verified member.
Also, you might be like me and be a bit fussy about your bed, and chose to spend your nights in a hotel, but you can still use CouchSurfing to meet locals for a coffee or some tips on finding the hidden gems of where you’re visiting. The same goes if you are not in a position to offer a bed, but wish to avail of a bed. You can agree to be a host for just a few hours on a Saturday if that’s all you can manage.
Choices, choices. Will it be a holiday complex and an Irish bar in a generic Mediterranean package holiday resort, or do you think you might be tempted to try something a little different this year? Whatever you decide, travel wisely and with an open mind.
Written by: Tara Gleeson
Edited by: Paul Cantwell
Uploaded by: Dan Doyle