Seven Cities and Five Countries: Charleroi and My First Couchsurfing Experience

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Smurfs in their native land of Belgium (however, the original language is French and not Dutch)

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Charleroi, Belgium

I have returned from my two week European tour. This morning has really shown that I’m back to the “real world” (thank you to the teacher who gave me some calming tea for my birthday!). The trip seems more like a dream than anything else. It was awesome!

On Sunday, March 2, Briana’s host mom drove us to the airport and late that afternoon, we arrived in Charleroi, Belgium (where the airport is located). I signed up for a CouchSurfing account when I got to Nîmes, but up until now, I’d never actually done any surfing. We stayed with an adorable family with a little baby boy who kept asking for “apoopu?” but sadly, il n’y avait plus (he wanted more noodles). We had dinner with the family and the mother drove us to the airport early the next morning which was incredibly kind. Charleroi appears to be ranked as one of the world’s ugliest cities. We didn’t really have time to explore the city, but it didn’t look quite so bad as that ranking might have one believe.

For those that don’t know how CouchSurfing works, it’s a community of people around the world who offer their couch (or floor, or bed, etc.) to strangers who need a place to stay while they’re in the area. You can pay to have yourself “certified” for which I think they do some sort of background check, but otherwise, the site and experience is free. The idea is that you don’t pay the people you stay with, but that you should give them some sort of gift. Briana and I had been hoping to CouchSurf in Milan and Venice, but we got no offers from hosts that pleased us. It seems to me there’s a shortage of female hosts on the site, and we were not comfortable staying with a single male or group of males, not unless they had some stellar references and a great profile and even then, we still hoped to find a female or family. Call us overly precautionary, but when it comes to such situations, risks are not worth it, especially as this was the first time I went CouchSurfing. In some cities, CS community members organize events for other community members. I am quite pleased with my first CS experience.

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About Quiche Lauren

A blog by an English teaching assistant in Nîmes (Académie de Montpellier) through the TAPIF program.
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