A while ago I wrote a short piece on what Airbnb meant for me personally. True, there are instances, though I have not personally dealt with, where the hosts were creeps with spy cameras. But for me, it was overall quite a pleasant experience.

This piece of writing was never meant to be shared to the public, but I thought I would still post it anyway. We’re currently at the height of sharing economy, ranging from hospitality, transportation, even to workspaces. There may be downsides to such mode of living, but we certainly cannot ignore the positive attributes it gives to our society that’s, ironically, becoming more individualistic.

Anyhow, it’s by no means a great piece of writing, but it’s still an experience I would like to share. Anyone reading this who had a pleasant Airbnb experience, please tell me about it in the comment box below. :)

Six months away from home, in a foreign place all by yourself, is as lonely as it sounds. Three years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a student exchange program in the United Kingdom. It was my first time in Europe and I was determined to travel around as much as I could after my studies. After three months of studying in York, I began my journey.

Traveling as a college student means saving travel expenses, which really meant staying in hostels majority of the time. But with that, you’re really trading off your freedom and comfort. While the majority of the time I had to stay in hostels, there came times when I really missed the comfort of having my own room, and that’s when Airbnb came in.

My experience with Airbnb in Europe was nothing but spectacular. I was provided with a home away from home, the comfort of being in a real house, but most of all meeting local people I could interact with.

One of my most memorable Airbnb stays was in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Right after my studies, I decided to go around the UK for a month, and one of my stops was Salisbury. I was there for two reasons: one is to see the Stonehenge, and one is to see Stourhead Garden, a filming location for movie Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden.

You would think there would be many hostels in Salisbury because of the Stonehenge but turns out there aren’t many and most were overpriced. People tend to take a day trip to Stonehenge from London.

So I resorted to finding a place to stay with Airbnb, a decision I am so glad to have taken. My hosts were Laura, Tom, and their dog Maizie, and their house was a traditional two-floored countryside house. It was cozy, modern, and very similar to the Dursley’s in Privet Drive. A feast in the eye for a Potterhead like me.

Not only was I provided with a room to stay, Laura and Tom invited me to come downstairs to the living room for a cup of tea. How very British, I remember thinking. Chatting with Laura and Tom made me realize how long I haven’t had a decent conversation with people. Traveling alone is not that hard for me, and I do quite enjoy it, but not talking to people for a long period of time certainly made me more introverted than before. But Laura and Tom provided me with the outlet for chatters. They seemed genuinely interested in my travels and my upcoming trips. I guess as people living in the UK, they would have less time to explore all the crevasses of the UK, very much like how little I actually know of Korea.

I also had the opportunity to listen to Laura and Tom’s stories. How they are planning to get married the following year, their peaceful life in the countryside, and a crazy story of an Airbnb guest staying in their house for almost half a year and eventually moving in as their neighbor in a house next door.

If you ask me three years after my travel to Salisbury what I remember the most, I would, of course, talk about seeing the Stonehenge, or my surreal walk around Stourhead Garden as a true movie fanatic. But my travels would not be as pleasant if not for the company I had with Laura and Tom and the comfortable house I had the opportunity to stay in. It is albeit a short stay with them, but a true British experience, in my opinion.

That is what Airbnb is for me. Three months of traveling calls for some companionship. My Airbnb stays extended from the UK to a great many places, like Madrid, Prague, Paris, and Rome. Each house I distinctly remember and each host provided me with a true taste of what the city was like. And I would not trade my experience with Airbnb for the extra money I would have saved.

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