By Samantha

I’ve already been in Europe for almost Two months. Except staying in Salzburg and enjoying the peaceful life here, I also traveled to some places to explore the grande Europe. I’m not going to say how beautiful Berliner Dom is or how many crazy people there are in Amsterdam, since most of the tourists have already noticed those stuff. What I find in my two-month staying in Europe is a different relationship between person and person here.

Usually I choose to stay in hostels for the lower price, but I also tried Airbnb and Couchsurfing here which are not so popular in China. Generally saying, Airbnb is a website for people to rent out lodging. It has over 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. Yes, I’m looking for cheap accommodations there but later I find it is a huge social network system in real life! People on Airbnb are not only for renting out their houses or apartments shortly to some strangers, but also using this way to know new people, to share their ideas and living styles. Even more, the hosts represent their personal taste and showing the regional culture through the place they post on Airbnb. Now the webside has such a strong impact among users. I tried two hosts, one is in Salzburg and the other is in Brussels. I didn’t know much about the former host’s personality since he just left his key to us and was always in Vienna. The Second one named Deborah, she’s doing Airbnb with her family (her husband and a lovely baby). I had a good time with her, it’s such a pleasure waking up seeing there’s my breakfast on the table while the one-year old baby was struggling eating bananas and cereals. I brought flowers or chocolates when I was back in Deborah’s place, and we talked about this day’s work or events we had. Gradually I was feeling more like a family member of them. After I left, Deborah wrote comment on Airbnb’s webside saying:”It is for such shared moments we know why we are doing Airbnb.”

One year old boy eating breakfast

Breakfast with my “Airbnb-family”

Also Couchsurfing is another way for saving money, no, I mean getting to know interesting people. It is a hospitality exchange and social networking website, providing a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event. Well, It’s totally free and you may even get presents or breakfast from the host. I spent a wonderful night with my hosts in Rotterdam, who are sincere, caring and kind. We cooked together and played music for a long time (I think it might because they don’t have wifi at home XD), soon we built a really good relationship as friends. When I unfortunately lost my backpack in Amsterdam, they even helped to get it back to me with express delivery(and paying ahead). In the meanwhile, I’ve heard something bad of Couchsurfing, thing’s like one night stand (not so willingly), or paying for the accommodation happened in the past too. But generally it’s good, and helpful for making friends and getting to know new places.

But how can people trust strangers so fast and easily? That’s totally different from Chinese people’s personalities and values! Yes, we are more conservative and hard to trust strangers while we only know each other online for some texts. Chinese don’t rely on people they just met, they do newly-built relationship prudently. But once they regard you as a friend, they will act totally different. From our buddies here and some friends I met, I’m thinking about the relationship between people in Europe. It’s looser for sure, not a very strong connection as Chinese one; but people here treat a new friend or a stranger more trustfully, like they know them for a while.

Well, there’s another thing I noticed: using smart phones becomes a trend in China but not here, lots of people(even young generation) still prefer old Nokia. A very interesting scene you may see in Shanghai is friends get together for dinner or party, but everyone is using his or her phone doing something instead of drinking or talking. Then what’s the meaning of “gathering”? Smart phones and SNS are invading people’s life, they make the distance shorter between friends who live in different continent for sure, but they also extend the distance between your friends back-fence. So, personally, I like the parties and gatherings here more, at least everybody’s talking and listening while sharing their lives, not post some pics online showing “big party tonight” only gaining dozens of likes.

grouppicture of students at a party

Austrian student party

I do enjoy Chinese style friendship when we hanging out for karaoke or movies, whereas I admire the European more sometimes.