THE REFERENCE:

On Mary’s day of arrival, I was at home waiting for her to let me know she was on the train and was a little frustrated that she didn’t let me know she was running later than her expected time of arrival. It meant we didn’t get have the opportunity to do the sightseeing that I had planned for her, but we did get to spend a few hours together that afternoon visiting the kangaroos.

Mary is a nice lady but her style of couchsurfing differs from mine in that I am on Couchsurfing not to just give someone a free bed and free Wi-Fi, but to get an insight into their lives at home and to spend time with them. Mary works whilst she is on the road and as she had a deadline, she spent much of her time in her room on her laptop and not interacting with us so we were unable to get to know her as well as we would have liked.

On the 3rd day she was here we did walk the Bondi Beach to Coogee track after she woke up much later than our agreed departure time and on our return home, she disappeared to her room again.

Her priorities whilst she was here seemed to be working and sleeping in and I don’t think she has taken on board the ethos of Couchsurfing where she appreciates the efforts that hosts make to make her welcome. If she needs to work late into the night, then sleep in till 11am, then perhaps an Airbnb or a hostel would be a better choice.

MY RESPONSE:

Feeling disheartened reading Linda’s reference and while I don’t want to respond, I feel like the reference was unfair and I should tell my side. So here goes…

I stayed with Linda for three nights.

Day 1

When I arrived, Linda asked me what sites I’ve already been to. I told her I’ve already been to most of the tourist spots except the beach. She asked if I wanted to see Kangaroos in the wild & I said yes. I showered and we were off to the National Park. I enjoyed this experienced!

Linda & Steve also prepared dinner for me which I am truly grateful for. During dinner, we talked the diet they’re currently on, their travel plans, the work that I do, etc. I thought it was a great time getting to know each other.

While eating, I told them I was new to couchsurfing. They were my third experience. The second being my host for 5 days before I transferred to them.

Usually at home, when we’re done eating, we stay at the table to talk. But since they already stood up and started cleaning the table, I did so too to show respect.

Before going to my room, I asked advice about more places I should see, and so Linda showed me the computer and gave me a list. She told me I should go to the beach, circular quay, etc.

Day 2

As per Linda’s recommendation, this day would’ve been a great time to do the walking city tour. Since the tour starts at 2:30pm, I thought it would be okay to work late, wake up around 10am, and leave by 1pm. So that’s what I did.

Unfortunately, it rained when I got to the meeting place of the tour. So, I decided to go home and spend time with them instead.

When I got home, I changed and went to the living area. I had coffee with Linda. We talked about a lot of things and then she told me I could feed the birds.

Of course, I was excited! I fed the birds while Linda took photos of me. One of them even bit me, but it was fine. Amazing experience!

After some time, Linda had to fetch her daughter from the station so I stayed in the living room a bit with her husband.

When I recognized it was dinner time, I went to my room. I was being respectful because I didn’t want them to think that I wanted a free meal again. They’re already so generous for letting me stay, so I thought it was only right to give them space during dinner time and not make it awkward.

Day 3

I wasn’t feeling well, so I woke up later than expected. Linda and I did the Bondi – Coogee walk. It took more than 2 hours (Linda said it would only take one) but that’s probably because I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. It was a gorgeous view though!!! Definitely one of my fave places in Sydney!

After the walk, I asked Linda if we could sit for a while and just enjoy the view. I am a person like that. I like taking a pause, just looking at the view, and taking it all in.

I shared with her my experiences with a woman I stayed in a hostel with. I really wanted to stay longer, but when she said “okay let’s go,” of course I followed her.

She asked if I wanted to do the famous harbour bridge walk, I told her I already did that so we decided to go straight home.

When we got home, I went straight to my room to lay down and rest for a while.

Then I heard them preparing dinner. Personally, I think it’s rude to present yourself if you didn’t get any dinner invitation, so I decided to respect their space and stay in my room until they finished eating.

When they were done, I went out to eat. There weren’t any near restaurants, so I just ate some bread and the salad that Linda offered.

I wanted to eat at my room because they were watching some TV, but Linda said I should just eat in the Living room. So I sat with them, ate my dinner, and watched some TV.

When I finished, I told them I was ready to sleep and said good night.

Day 4

I woke up early because I had to transfer to my hostel. I had some snacks from the Philippines that I bought for them, but since they don’t eat sugar or carbs, I decided to not give those instead. I said thank you, hugged, and said goodbye.

Personally, I thought we did a lot of things together even if I just stayed for 3 nights.

We had dinner.
We spent an afternoon at the park.
We had some coffee.
We fed the birds.
We talked about our travel plans and tips.
We went to the Bondi-Coogee walk together.

There was no indication at all that she was unhappy with my stay with her. I wished she’d tell me because I really don’t know how to do the approach.

Do I join their TV time so we can talk or is that disturbing their space?

Do I join them for dinner or does that make things awkward since I wasn’t invited?

Do I tell her I want to stay longer at the beach or is that rude?

It’s sad that what I remember were the great times we spent, while this reference mostly points out my fault as a surfer and makes it seem like I’m a total freeloader.

Trust me, I’m not. When given the opportunity, I cook for my hosts. I share them tips. I chat with them. I respect their boundaries. I clean as I go. I help arrange their home.

I am a shy person (an introvert) but I have a good heart. I am as terrible as this reference makes it seem to be.

I am still grateful for Linda and her family for making me stay. I’d like to think she means well and she’s just telling her experience. I will learn from this for sure!!!

PS – Yay!!! As I was writing this, I got a reference from my host in Korea. Super sweet and totally made me feel better. 🙌🏻💕

Private: Couchsurfing Reference Response

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