The past few days I have spent in Laval have been absolutely wonderful, and I offer my complete thanks to the amazing people who participate in Couchsurfing.
Before leaving the United States, I felt wary of Couchsurfing. This was for multiple reasons, and many of them follow a cultural narrative of caution towards strangers. People of the female persuasion, especially, are told often from a young age to have our wits about us for all the pervs and creeps out there. And understandably, it is sensible to take precautions because one does not know who they can actually trust.
That being said, I have realized there is a point when you have to barrel through your fears and risk…well, living. I have met some of the very best people in the world through the internet, not to mention gained a full-time nannying job (the very one that allowed me to save up for Europe!) through Craigslist.
After some contemplation I decided to forgo the isolation of a one-room hotel in Laval and instead stay with a young couple named Sandra and Mahen through Couchsurfing. Upon my arrival in Laval, I felt nervous, but Mahen quickly quelled my fears as he helped drag my heavy luggage down the cobblestone streets to his house. I met their loquacious and sweet 17-year-old cat who took purring on as a full-time job. Mahen and I discussed animals, politics, and cultural differences as we ate salad picked fresh from the backyard and homemade galettes.
Above all, Sandra and Mahen’s level of trust and generosity felt refreshing. Not only did they offer a free roof over my head, but all the food in their fridge and a set of keys to their house while they were off at work. They helped me navigate bus routes, showed me the best websites for apartment searching, and left their phone at my full disposal.
The hospitality I have experienced here thus far has come from a genuine place of goodwill, and it is the best start I could get in France possible. At first I was hellbent on getting an apartment by myself, but the more I think of it, the more I feel living with other people from Laval would enrich my experience that much more. Even though I worried being homeless upon my arrival would be the most stressful part of my time in France, I find myself wondering now if it will actually be the best.