Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Couchsurfing experience #4: Laura

Our couchsurfing host this time was named Laura. Since all of us were pretty overworked (this is a normal thing, btw, but it's more a question of who has time and whether or not we actually do read everything we send each other), German K had once again booked the reservation for us and sent us the profile but I hadn't actually looked at it until I was in Gatwick airport trying to buy our host gift for this person I didn't know.

After reading her profile this is what I surmised: she was a lesbian who loved to do graphic art. She had some photos of her work up on her page and another page. Before reading her profile page I was thinking I would get her some typical London stuff - some cute reusable bag with "London" written all over it or some sort of journal. The conclusion after reading her profile? That business would be unacceptable. If I'd had the time to actually plan the gift I would have gotten something from the Lichtenstein exhibit when I had been there with Hong Kong P the other weekend. But alas, such was the circumstance.

So I bought her a fantastic sampler of Fornum & Mason tea (with fancy embossed tins) and called it a day. Everyone loves tea, especially English tea. German K ended up bringing some great Finnish Fazer chocolate with her as well, so we had a nice blend of our countries represented (none of which we are from, hilariously).

Anyway, this host was a bit different than our previous hosts in Oslo. Namely, she gave us a key to her apartment (which was huge and gorgeous, and she owns, like a few of our other hosts, namely Daniel in Oslo) and then let us roam free. She had her own plans that weekend and we had pretty opposing schedules, so we didn't get to see much of her until Sunday morning when we were all at the same place at the same time.

It worked out fine since we were all pretty chill that weekend, exploring the town on foot and not wanting to go out and she had a party on Saturday night with some girlfirends, so all was good. But it was an interesting contrast to what we had done before.

Also hilariously we found ourselves in an interesting sleeping situation. She had a couch and would normally have had a blow-up mattress to fit all three of us, but the mattress was mysteriously missing this time so we had to improv a little to make things work. She had a small yoga mat-like cushion for one of us (German K took the hard job of taking that) and then Hong Kong P and I switched taking the sofa and the cushions that came off of the back of the sofa to create a long but very narrow fake mattress on the floor. Needless to say it worked but there were many jokes made about how we were all too old and all had various issues in the middle of the night. Rolling off the narrow makeshift mattress was one of these problems.

Turns out after speaking with her she's had quite an interesting life. She's currently working as the web creator for a psych unit. She does a lot of the admin tasks associated with the website and other data collection points. She finds her job really lonely because there is no team associated with these tasks, only her. This is particularly hard because she's really social and wants someone to discuss her projects with. But the money is really good and she has stable hours that allow her to pursue her true love, which is art, which she now does as a side gig and it's starting to pick up.

She bought her apartment as part of a socialist cooperative and it's a pretty interesting situation. She bought her apartment (which is huge, probably around 60 square meters, one bedroom with separate rooms for everything, wood floors, wonderful lighting and huge windows) for 15,000euros. She pays 600euros in rent every month to pay for rent and overall property maintenance, homeowners association, etc. The way she explains it it's basically a cooperative where you buy in and own the place you live in but it's not like you can do anything with it as an individual. Like individual modifications are not allowed because you're part of a group of owners, despite the fact that you own your individual unit. Also, should you ever decide to sell you get back exactly the 15,000euros you bought it for, there is no such thing as making profit according to market fluctuations. It was very interesting to learn that Denmark had something like this, though Hong Kong P told me that Hong Kong had something like it as well. Laura said there was basically a 2 year waiting list to get into the complex she was in (which is the biggest in Copenhagen, with close to 700 units) and you had to know someone else who was already living there (her aunt and uncle live in a unit close to hers). Fascinating.

The other thing we talked about a lot: love. Everyone in the world always ends up talking about love, even if conversation starts off with talks of what you're studying or working on. She's currently deciding if she wants to get back with her girlfriend, who she left when she moved back to Copenhagen from Amsterdam, where she lived for several years after going to school and working before getting into a tough financial situation that wouldn't hold out. This girlfriend didn't want to move with her to Copenhagen but they didn't really ever sever ties. Now she's open. So the question - try things again or move on? Always the question I suppose.

But staying at her place was wonderful. Another great couchsurfing experience. I look forward to my next one (this one will be solo) in Paris.

No comments:

Post a Comment