As you can tell, we have Spring Break Fever in Advanced IMC. During our break many of us will travel, but those of us who aren’t going anywhere can probably attribute that to one reason, or lack there of, cash money. Spring break can get pricey and when I mentioned the price to one of my friends they were quick to offer an inexpensive (actually it’s free) travel solution; couch surfing!
I had heard about couch surfing, but decided to do some research to find out exactly what it’s all about. Couch surfing is a hospitality exchange network/website that allows people to register and either host travelers on their couch, stay on other couches, or do both across the globe. The way it works is you go to couchsurfing.com and create a profile. From there you can choose to search for a couch based on the location you want to travel to, view profiles of people who have couches in the area and if you find somebody who you think would be cool to stay with you send them a request. If approved you have a free place to stay for a night or two.
Sound kind of sketchy? Maybe, but couch surfing figured out how to quell the sketch factor of staying with strangers by having your friends, people you’ve hosted or folks you’ve stayed with give you review. If a person has bad reviews obviously this is a tell-tale factor that you may not want to stay on their couch or have them stay on yours.
Over the past few weeks in class we’ve been talking about building social capital. Social capital deals with social cohesion and personal investment in the community. Couch surfing is helping to increase social capital by involving people who may otherwise never encounter each other. Its designed to give people a cultural perspective and opportunity to encounter people, places and experiences in a country or location that they may not otherwise be privy to. By staying with locals you are getting a first hand experience of the destination you’re visiting. If you choose to host people you are only bolstering social capital ever further by making an investment in the couch surfing community as well as the global community.
I find the concept of couch surfing fascinating, and although I am not couch surfing over spring break I am going to host a person. How’s that for social capital?