I don’t usually take risks like this.
Sleep on a stranger’s couch? In a foreign country? Forget about it.
I’m usually the one warning friends not to meet people online. There are weirdos out there, you know. And never would I ever go home with a stranger.
Yet there I was, scrolling through profiles online. Name after name in country after country of people willing to lend their couch to me. Ghent, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels. You name the city. You’ll find a couch there with your name on it.
I mean, travel beckoned. And I was broke. Can you blame me?
Here’s how it happened.
Wanderlust: Won’t Take “Nein” for an Answer
Where: Tübingen, Germany.
When: Winter break, 2008.
Who: Nathan and Mandy Wallace, American study abroad students with an itch to travel.
Sure, I could have stayed cooped up in my dorm room. Germany was beautiful enough. Swirling snow, but not so much to be annoying. Hunting for mushrooms on the edge of the Black Forrest. Castles. Baroque churches and medieval architecture. Glittering Christmas markets and mulled wine.
But the world was too close not to explore it.
So this suspicious-of-strangers, no-risk-is-worth-putting-your-life-in-peril, small-town Bakersfield girl was ready to put her life into a stranger’s hands.
Several strangers, as it turned out. . . . .