Transplant made easy: a year with social media


Including the summers on either side, my junior year took me to two American coasts and at least eight other countries.

While I pride myself on obsessive planning, particularly before adventuring, finding friends in a new city still proved to be a bit of a challenge. Thankfully, I live in a generation that is building itself on social networks. By the time I landed in Germany, I had realized just how many great resources there are to connect people, both on and off the internet.

I've written about my love of CouchSurfing before. While I was in Europe, CouchSurfing made my experience fuller, more satisfying and definitely a lot cheaper. But when I got back to the US, CouchSurfing remained a great way to meet new people and enjoy new and familiar places.

Even during my second semester, back here in the Castle, CouchSurfing connected me to people when I would otherwise be flying solo.

I went to Cincinnati to go to a concert, and ended up meeting members of the Cincinnati CouchSurfing group, and they just amazed me with how friendly, open and welcoming they were. That same semester, I had my first opportunity to host a surfer here as he made his way across the country on his bike.

While some of these people were only in my life for a day or two, their impact on my life is a lasting one. Others I know I will see again, and wherever I go, there will almost certainly be fellow surfers ready to take on the world, one adventure at a time.

Meetup is basically a bulletin board for hobbyists – campers, self-proclaimed movie critics, foodies, sports fans, Dead Heads, anyone. Some are designed for specific age groups, but many welcome people of all ages.

The idea is to connect people of common interests that might never have met otherwise and provide an easy way for them to organize events in their area.

I mention Meetup and CouchSurfing because they have very active communities across the world and provide social opportunities for people of all different ages and interests, but there are a variety of such online networks.

While I lived in Munich, Germany, I met several people through an English language forum for expats. While living in Philadelphia, I kept informed about concerts through a variety of music forums, and the people I met there became concert buddies, road trip partners and friends.

Most of all, I'm looking forward to hosting CouchSurfers after I graduate and playing a more active role in the growth of these communities that I've enjoyed being a part of for so long.

It's not for everyone, certainly. But I didn't think it would be for me either, and it turns out I've met some amazing people and had a wealth of great experiences because I gave it a try.

I'll soon be making a much more permanent move, and I'm glad it can be so easy to find the people that make a totally new place feel like home.

Cheeseman is a senior from West Lafayette, Ind., majoring in biology and political science. She is a managing editor for The DePauw.