Couchsurfing in Belarus: feel Belarusians' hospitality


Couchsurfing in Belarus: feel Belarusians' hospitality

People say: “prepare your sleighs in summer and your cart in winter.” This rule can be applied holiday plans, which you should also prepare in advance! Natalia Darashkevich, couchsurfing expert, told the program "Morning. Studio of good mood" on CTV about how to organize your holiday.

What is couchsurfing?

Natalia Darashkevich, couchsurfer: 
If translate from English, it is "a couch + surfing (sport)." In principle, couchsurfers are people who "ride" on your couch! Couchsurfing is a free way to relax and live in different places. There is a website. You need to register there. Create your profile. People can leave reviews about you: they write whether you're a good person or not, whether you are... so to say... an adequate and reliable person. They write both positive and negative things. This helps filter people to whom you want to go or whom you want to welcome.
The main thing is the ability to travel and meet new people. In my opinion, you can learn a country better if you live together with its poeple. They can show you a completely different city, not the city that is shown to you by guide

You should know many languages to take up couchsurfing, shouldn't you?

Natalia Darashkevich:
There are people who manage to travel and entertain guests speaking only the Belarusian language! They know only some key phrases in English. Certainly English is the most important language in this “sport”. If you know English, it will be easier for you to communicate. Couchsurfing is an opportunity to learn languages! 

We hold weekly meetings. We have an English club! Couchsurfers sometimes simply meet to talk and share impressions. We try to tell our society who we are, we say that we exist because so many people don't know about it or simply do not understand what couchsufring is.

From what social groups do couchsurfers come from? Are they students?

Natalia Darashkevich:
These are different people, everyone who likes travelling. There are people over 30 and 40 and older.

What the difference between a tourist and a traveler?

Natalia Darashkevich:
There is a difference. For example, I am not interested in staying with a tour guide. When you usually come to a country, you go along the route with all others. I like it the other way. If I make friends with interesting people, I can go with them. It's kind of a different kind of holiday. 

I know people who travel for years. They collect money and then fulfill their dreams. My wonderful friend Francesco is an American. He has been traveling around the world for two years now. Before that, he had his own bike shop. He spared money and now he travels and earns by taking photos of people. Relatively speaking, you can take a lot of interesting pictures while traveling. He feels fine visiting different countries, including Belarus. He loved our country.

To be a couchsurfer means not only to travel but also to receive guests. You can correct me but I think it is in fact an invasion of privacy. After all, you also have your own plans and so on. How often do such invasions they place and how unexpected are they?

Natalia Darashkevich:
No, they ask in advance! You can either agree or not. You can refuse.  

How do you welcome guests? What do you show to them, what places do you visit?

Natalia Darashkevich:
We meed them with bread and salt (the way of greeting guests that suggests that these people are hightly respected)!  We also prepare pancakes! In turn, they can cook something themselves. For example, Englishmen prepared a real English breakfast where even tomatoes were grilled. Well, as far as tours or excursions are concerned, we went to Dudutki, Nesvizh and so on. If we cannot go there we just walk around the city and visit the National Library of Belarus, ride the Ferris wheel, go to museums and small galleries.

Could you tell us from your own exeperience what travellers like the most?

Natalia Darashkevich:
People! People surprise them. Generally they consider us a very closed country. And when they come they realize: "Oh my God, everything is fine, everyone is happy and everything is cool!"