One of my greatest interests and passions is to travel and I make sure I get to travel as often as I can. And another thing, when I travel – unless its for work – I try to travel as a local.
Ok. That might sound strange to some. How can you travel like a local?
Som pre-history to this statement:
I have travelled all my life to a smaller and bigger extent.
When i was a kid we travelled all over southern Norway to visit my grandparents and my uncles and aunts and cousins, that all lived in different cities far from where we lived. So we always stayed with them whereever we went!
When I was 16 my family decided that we would take in an exchange student from Canada. That was probably the wisest decision we have ever made as a family :D
Dionne came to live with us and stayed with us for 11 months – she became a part of the family and she became a sister to us. She is still a sister to us!
After this experience my mom and dad gave me an offer I could not refuse. I was allowed to travel as an exchange student myself. I wanted to travel to Russia. I had had pen-friends in Russia for years and I seriously wanted to go there and learn Russian. However, this was back in 1991 / 1992, it was the year the Soviet Union became Russia. It was the year Boris Yeltsin was elected president in Russia. Every day on the television news there were reports from Russia about people standing in km long lines to get food and supplies. As mom and dad were the cash box for this travel, they voted NO.
Hence I changed my mind. I really wanted to travel. 14 Febuary 1993 I started the biggest adventure in my life! Costa Rica was the destination and a local host family waited for me. They took me in, like my family took in my Canadian sister Dionne, and they made me a part of their family. For 1 year I lived in a fantastic familiy that treated me like one of their own children. I got to see how another family functioned and I got to see what another culture worked like. It is one of the most precious times of my life. The friendships I made in that family, the friends I made in school – they still last. They are still very much alive.
Costa Rica changed my life in many ways. It made me grow up, find myself, realize who I was at the time. I got a new start. I was allowed to become the person I wanted to be and not only the one I had grown up to be, and was thought to be – due to a given environment. I got to change into a new environment. I got to grow and become the person I was meant to be. I got to learn how to trust that the person I was meant to be was worth the world to a whole lot of people. I realized a lot during this year as an exchange student, and the funny thing is that since then, the learning has never stopped. It opened up my eyes to the world and it made me believe in myself in ways I had never dared to before.
The experience in Costa Rica was so life altering that I wanted to help other young people have the same fantastic experience as I had when I was there. I worked as a volunteer helping the kids that came to Norway have the time of their lives. I worked to help give kids and families information on how things work when you travel abroad with an AFS year programme and how it works taking in students in your own home. I loved it so much.
In 1995 I spent 6 months living in another host family in Montreal, Quebec. It was an great time. It was a reward because of my previous local volunteer work in my home region in Norway. I got to work as a volunteer for AFS International in Canada. I was given a fantastic host family, living in the east side of Montreal. I was paid a minimum every day, 1 CAD pr hour, however the money wasn’t important. The experience was. The friends I made was.
Back in Norway I continued working as a volunteer for AFS in the local chapter of Trondheim, then later when I moved to Oslo, I worked as a vounteer for the local chapter there.
In 2006 I read a newspaper article about Couchsurfing and decided to join immediately. Where AFS bases their hosting programmes to 11 months (which still does not suit my life style as a single, with no extra bedrooms), Couchsurfing offers a more grown up way of travelling and hosting travellers in your area. Couchsurfing allows you to get in touch with travellers and host them for 1 night or 3 nights or maybe a week. My longest staying guest stayed for 13 weeks. His name was Sam and I wanted to adopt him as my kid brother. Couchsurfing allows you to meed other people that love travelling and meet locals in the city you visit. It allows you to get to know new people all over the world, to make new friends that share the same interest as yourself and travel a bit – even when you are at home in your own apartment.
I like to invite a piece of the world to my home.
Would you like to invite me to yours?
So, by travelling as a local, I mean to view the place you visit as a local, see the place with the eyes of a local and taste the food the locals eat. Along with this, my goal is to make friends all around the world.
I travel when I can, I like to visit friends I have made already and I like to visit friends I will make.
I love travelling this way !
Connecting lives, sharing cultures …
Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch At A Time …