Couch Story

Interviews. People. Travellers.

JunYi, Malaysia: “When I was in the U.S., I was like a sponge.”

nahledI met JunYi during his trip through Europe. He was the only couchsurfer who stayed in my place twice. Since then we met in Asia twice and the second time I asked him for an interview.

It’s quite unusual for Asians to travel the world in the way JunYi does. And it’s really nice to see the world from his point of view. Because it’s much different than when you talk with Europeans.

“When I lost my things, it was the worse and the best experience at the same time. It taught me not to bring so much stuff when travelling, and I realised the importance of that things,” he said.

Sofiah, Brunei: I would love, love and love to do it. There is no female conductor in Brunei…

sofiah_sWhen we sat down to talk, Sophia started to talk straight away …

“First of all, I am a Bruneian, if you have ever heard about one before (laugh). My mum is Bruneian and my dad is British Malaysian. It is a bit confusing. I am a music graduate but I somehow ended up in a financial job. I hated it and quit. I live in London and I’m slowly getting back to music and travelling.”

We talked about music, Brunei and how its locals get used to couchsurfers. In the end, Sofiah got out a postcard and handed it to me, saying. “ If you ever go to Brunei, let me know. We will show you Bruneian relaxed life.”

Lukáš, Czech: “People in Indonesia are relaxed, always smiling, they don’t talk about their problems…”

_FXC6970I met Lukáš in Pilsen – my hometown in the Czech Republic – just a few months after he came back from Indonesia. He spent there almost two years, working for a non-profit organisation and teaching English at school.

“I think I travel because I get a lot of energy and inspiration from that. I love to explore new cultures, get new experience. There are a lot of things I would like to do one day. And very often it’s something like Go to the middle of Indonesia and live with locals,” he told me.

We talked about the culture in Indonesia, teaching in a state school for prison officers and about a huge couchsurfing community in Jakarta.

Elena, Italy: “You can be so easily disappointed when you live with expectations”

483410_10200149714531617_680367477_nI met Elena in Genoa for the first time – we were in the same high school there. This year she decided not to continue her university and to take a gap year instead. “I want to slow down and finally see the world in its brightest colors,” she said and continued: “I want to slow down because I always run somewhere, and then I forget to enjoy all the small things, if you understand me. I also want to think about what I would really like to do one day.”

She started to travel when she was very young, so this decision was influenced by a lot of other journeys. I was really curious about her experience!

Míša, Czech: The best way to start is simply do it. You don’t even know how but you are in

nahledI have asked Míša to talk to me because her profile at couchsurfing.com didn’t make sense to me. She introduces herself as a person who does not like people but at the same time she has hosted more than 70 people.

I have found it a bit strange. If you host people you should like them. Now, after talking to Míša in person, I understand.

Míša is a vegan and that’s why her house has some special rules. I didn’t forget to ask her about it as well.

Griffin, US: I didn’t understand why people wouldn’t move away for a while

GriffinGriffin is a young man who lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic and is also my very good friend. He comes from the South of the Unites States and he is twenty-four years old. One day in college, he decided to try studying abroad for a year in Finland.

He fell in love with Europe and traveling, so after finishing school in America, he moved to the Czech Republic. His first intention was to stay here for one year, but after a year of teaching English in Prague, he decided to stay in Prague longer. Now he works as a project manager at a start-up company in Prague.

I know he has a bunch of experiences with people from different parts of the world and also lots of stories from not only his travels, but also from ordinary life.

Mohammad, Iran – We’re just normal people, the same as in New York, Berlin or Prague

Mohammad, IranI met Mohammad at a huge couchsurfing meeting in Berlin during the summer. He wanted to share his experiences from Iran with me and to fulfil his mission to show that Iranians are totally different than we think they are. They just want to live normal lives, have children and develop their country.

“My mission when living in Europe is to make people believe that we are humans the same way as they are. We’re not what people think we are, we are not Al-káida or Tálibán, we’re even not Arabs,” he says.

So we talked about Iran, travelling, meeting different cultures and creating your own picture of the world.

Francesco, Italy: I don’t want to live as a tram driver. I want to choose when and where I will look for the happiness

FrancescoFrancesco is on his travelling holiday from Italy to Prague, Minsk and to Tel Avive. He has been hungry to see new places and to find the one he is going to call his home. Wherever in the world it might be …

He comes from a small Italian city in the south. And as he says all his journeys head north, even if he goes south. Because the north means an airport and the connection to the world.

We met at one of the Prague’s bridges, took a walk along Vltava and talked about what is it like to be a tram driver…

Enrico, Brazil: I recorded people talking about love in their native language

EnricoEnrico was one of the best guests I’ve ever had. One of those guys travelling long enough to become really himself, to get out of the box which society always tries to fit us into. He started a project called Love Around the World at the beginning of his journey and I could see he had already found that love. At least in his own heart.

He comes from the Brazillian countryside, he studied and worked in São Paulo for a few years and then took a flight to Europe.

He had traveled for six months and then decided to stay in Portugal for some time…

Lucia, Slovakia: Knowledge as a strong motivation for humanity

LuciaLucia is my friend but we haven`t seen each other for almost a year before the interview. She spent 4 months in India in this time and as it seems she has moved on her life path quite far. She is more confident, more open and satisfied.

She was born in Bratislava, Slovakia. We met in Brno where we both lived. Now she works in an HR agency in Prague. She says traveling is a way to herself, other people and common knowledge of the world.

I`m switching off my recorder at the and of the interview, she stops and says: “You know, I`ve almost forgot we`re having some interview…”

Lenka, Czech Republic: You just write a message to somebody on a website and ask him for a sleepover

LenkaLenka is a dreamer and future architect, currently based in Prague and working in a café. Before I get down to talk to her she manages to contact me with three of her couchsurfers. They come and go and make Lenka’s life interesting and fast.

Let`s find out where it all started for her.

She did an one semester long trip to Estonia and stayed with a gay couple in a tiny apartment. Nowadays some really interesting people come to visit her.

Like Thais from our other interview.

Thais, Brazil: You have to have trust, be flexible and don`t get into conflicts

Thais BrazilThais has been on her way from Brazil for a few days. By a strange accident she has missed three flights, had to overnight in Paris and after all that lost her luggage. But now, as it seems, she is finally in Prague and on her way to meet us.

I am pleased to see her safe. She smiles when talking about her lost luggage and the staff she needs for her dancing performance at Prague Quadriennale. It is her first trip to Europe and first by couchsurfing. We’re sitting down in a cosy café,  Thais orders a soup. Her host Lenka walks out to call the airport and chase after lost luggage and we start to talk. I have to admit I am curious.