Positive Mindset

How is it that sometimes we meet people who just burst out with their positive attitude toward everything and sometimes we get to know these who complain about every aspect of their lives?

When I was thinking deeper about our ability to think in a positive way and how we can learn it, it occurred to me there had to be, for a certain amount of time, a person present in our childhood who would show us how to always look on the bright side of life. In my case that was my father. Even though my relationship with him got a bit toxic, but when I look back at my childhood I remember him showing me the world through travels, sending me to English classes that in 1990s in Poland were extremely expensive, comforting me when something went wrong and making me search for the silver lining in every situation. In the same he also taught me an incredible responsibility for my actions.

After my 3 years of therapy and knowing some friends who also attend theirs, I noticed they did not become happier. I know the therapy’s aim is not to change anyone’s attitude toward life from negative into a positive one, but to get to know yourself better and in most cases stop hurting yourself subconsciously. Yet I noticed that the way my friends were unhappy with their lives before the therapy, they are still unhappy after it. Now they are more conscious about their unhappiness. So where comes this incredible positive attitude toward life in some of the people from? My observation is that it must have been taught from others. There just had to happen a person in our early days who would show us their optimism, easy-going personality and positive mindset. Only by observing such a person we were able to learn how to stay optimists.

I remember a one girl I met through Couchsuring who I spent with 2 weeks traveling in Asia. It was supposed to be an amazing time – Taiwan and Philippines with her and then South Korea on my own. Unfortunately what I noticed about her behaviour was that she compared everything to Thailand she visited a year before. While traveling around Taiwan she did not like the landscape, the food, the beaches etc. With the Philippines it was the same. I felt like telling her one day to buy the tickets and immediately fly to Thailand if she loved it that much. Anyway I shut up and just backed off. And after a while we were sharing only a hotel room and spending the days on our own. It was a good lesson for me to be learnt:

  1. Never go traveling with a person you know so little
  2. Just because someone attended psychoanalysis does not mean they are able to appreciate life
  3. Stay away from negativity and toxic people

I remember I was so happy when going on my Asian trip. Gee, I flew 8000 km and visited 3 countries in 3 days! 3 new cultures, many Couchsurfing experiences, meeting incredible people, sleeping in strangers’ houses – imagine in Taiwan out of 8 nights 5 we spent Couchsurfing!, making new friendships and experiencing amazing landscapes! I was able to live through these 3 amazing weeks! Yet I chose an improper person to share my positive emotions with. Now I know I will never do that to myself again.

I consider myself a very positive. Whatever happens and has a negative impact on my life I try to look for a silver lining every time. I think every situation will teach me a lesson, and I do not want to stay negative, but rather think of good aspects of every story. What I have also learnt is that positive mindset has to be taught to us. It does not come itself. It is possible to try to change our way of thinking, but that is a very long way. It is easier when there was a person in our surroundings showing us good aspects of life and in the same teaching us how to appreciate it while we were young. It really helps! Now I am grateful to my father who, even though was showing his miserable attitude sometimes, managed to teach me that life can be amazing and it is only up to me what I do with it! πŸ™‚

73-year-old Couchsurfer

Can you imagine how surprised I was when a few weeks ago I received a request to host a 73-year-old woman?! I consider the couchsurfing website as the one mostly used by quite young people, aged 20 to 40. This time however,Β and for the first time in my whole couchsurfing adventure, I received a request from an old woman! Unfortunately I need use such an adjective as β€œold” because there is no better equivalent. I accepted her even though I had some doubts if we get along. And again another person brought new perceptions and a lot of new ideas into my life! πŸ™‚ What makes her amazing is that she learnt English only when she was 40, as her biggest dream was to visit the United States. She managed to do so, and even worked for a whole year there. She started travelling once her two sons grew up and moved out to make their own families. In my opinion it was her second chance to make the most of her life. In her case the statement in which some claim that life begins after 40 makes sense and proves it right πŸ™‚ While observing her I noticed only the generation gap between us, especially when it comes to technology. However she made me so surprised and amazed with her eagerness to travel, willingness to get to know the world, being incredibly open-minded, having such a free spirit as well as using couchsurfing both ways – Β to be hosted in strangers’ houses and hosting others.

Usually 70 something people are considered more as grandparents who usually stay home, watch TV, do some crosswords, take care of grandchildren and tend to have many illnesses. She was completely not that type! She is a great example that at any age you can fulfill your dreams, only if you really want them to happen. In my opinion it takes a lot of courage to travel alone when you are a pensioner. On the other hand she made me wonder who I will be by the age of 70? First of all will I still be alive, second of all will I still be travelling alone? Will I be in good physical condition to travel? Will I be willing to be hosted by strangers? Will I still be hosting? She made me wonder a bit about my future and where my life experience may lead me.

I think the most important is that she brought a lot of positive energy into my life and shows an amazing example that it is only a matter of strong personality and willingness to achieve your goal –Β  the age cannot even stop you! I realized I only want to be surrounded by such amazing people who show me there are no boundaries in anyone’s life and the only one who can stop us from fulfilling our dreams is ourselves, our fear of failure and million excuses! πŸ™‚

Couchsurfing Adventure

What really couchsurfing is about and what does it mean to me?

In brief it is hosting strangers or being hosted in somebody else’s house or apartment in a foreign country.Β  I started using the website and getting to know its community 4 years ago, 2014 to be exact. I tend to host people as I do not travel that much. I am working professionally and am allowed 26 working days off in my country – that gives one and a half month overall. I think it is a lot anyway. Till now I invited to my flat around 70 people from different continents. A lot, I know. And each of them brought something interesting into my life. I do not mean gifts, but emotions πŸ™‚ Some brought just their presence, some their smiles, some their incredible life stories.

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I do not remember each of the person I hosted, however there are some that I still have in mind. Especially my couchsurfing love story that really happened πŸ™‚ I know in some cases people use the website for the sexsurfing. Well… their choices, I know I do not need to agree to such behaviours. My aim when starting using the website was to meet international and open-minded people. And I try to choose only those. When a person sends me a request I do not accept them immediately – I look at the profile, I look at the way the request is written, I look at the pictures of the person and then listen to myself and my intuition whether to accept them or not. In 99% of the cases my intuition was right – I chose people who brought real positive energy into my life. There happened only one that treated my apartment as a hotel :/ Apart from that nothing wrong happened. Really?! Some would ask  – nobody stole anything from your apartment? Nobody hurt you? Nobody cheated you? Well.. NO πŸ™‚ I stick to my opinion about people that they are good, and maybe that is the reason I attract and invite to my life only these. The best is yet to come – I even give them the keys to my flat! Crazy, isn’t it? The times we are living in, when you only hear bad things happening around the globe, there is a Polish girl who hosts strangers and even gives them keys to her flat πŸ™‚ And still nothing bad happened to her! And I am even 100% sure nothing will in the future. First of all, because I choose people I want to host carefully. Second of all, because these who do the couchsurfing are intelligent and respectful. Third of all, because you can learn so many interesting things from them and expand your knowledge about the world without leaving your flat. It just required logical way of thinking and the state of mind allowing yourself to be free.

My love story from couchsurfing was unpredicted and unexpected. You never really know who enters your flat πŸ™‚ So there was this Korean guy that was supposed to stay with me just for 4 nights. And we got on so well that he stayed for 4 months overall. He is not living with me anymore, he has his own plans in life for the time being and he has the right to do so. Who knows, maybe in 10 or 20 years we will be together again? πŸ™‚ The most important is what I learnt back then about relationships. That these can work out, that people can live together without creating negative atmosphere around them, that it is possible to build love between two people if both are trying. I also learnt that if I did not allow myself to feel so, I would have locked myself from such positive emotions and experience. So one day he left, could not stay longer in the Schengen area and had right to continue his life somewhere else. I was not angry at all back then, just a bit sad. I know as a grown up I am the one responsible for the way I feel and my mood depends only on myself. He is not the one to make me feel good. I am just grateful I was able to live what I had with him. And my memories about these 4 months make me smile. We are still in touch, still calling each other from time to time, still caring about each other. Each month he is in a different country, yeah – a real traveler πŸ˜‰ Previously I was thinking that if you love someone the person has to be right next to you and with you. I now know it is not true. You can love and care about someone who is far away. Anyway I am not waiting for him to come back, I am living my own life as it is, dating others, building relationships with other people and hosting new couchsurfing ones. This Korean guy was just such an amazing and positive story that happened to me unexpectedly during the whole hosting experience. πŸ™‚

 

There are others I still remember. Like a Cuban guy that was on an exchange program in Spain and decided to travel around Europe while being here. I do remember him as I had big doubts before accepting him. First of all he was new on a website, that means he had no references, second of all he was 19 (!!!), third of all he was a man. And I did not really know if I wanted to host such a young guy I knew nothing about and had no idea if he was reliable. I am over 30, so I thought with such a young person I may not have much in common. However I told him honestly about my doubts, and got in return such a sincere response that I decided to accept him. No regrets at all! We spent an evening talking till 3 in the morning about everything! That is the couchsurfing experience I love πŸ™‚ And imagine now he is working in CNN as a journalist. It was a few years ago that we met. He grew up and started his professional career πŸ™‚ We are still connected on Facebook, still in touch, still remembering what we experienced together and still thinking maybe one day in life we will meet again. I would love so πŸ™‚ He is only one of my amazing couchsurfing experiences. There were so much more, but if I wanted to describe all probably the article would be 90 minutes long πŸ™‚

I usually host people. I do not use the website the other way round that often. However I started doing it recently and the experience I got was of course, there was just no other option, incredible! Lovely people I met, as they hosted me, in Portugal, Morocco, Taiwan, South Korea and Norway πŸ™‚ The ones I hosted were: Greek, Finnish, Chinese, Indonesian, Iranian, Syrian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Taiwanese, Angolan, Algerian, Peruvian, Romanian, American, Colombian, British, Egyptian, Canadian, Russian, German, French, Spanish, South Korean, Portuguese, Swiss, Tunisian, Filipino, Australian, Argentinian, Singaporean, Japanese, Mexican, Cuban, Italian, British and even Polish. Now when I look at the list of all of these people it amazes me! What amazes the most are the positive emotions they brought to my life as well as a bit of their culture, their lives, their stories and their freedom πŸ™‚

When I discovered couchsurfing community I thought that in order to get something, you need to give first. So I started from giving, that is hosting. At the beginning I did not really know what to expect and who to expect. As the proverb says – expect the unexpected πŸ˜‰ With some time I have learnt that when it comes to accepting people there are my rules in my place, however when I am being hosted I need to accept the host’s rules. Fair enough. If you are flexible, chilled out, like meeting new people and while being in a foreign country you prefer to see it through locals, the website is the best place to be.

I am going to continue my couchsurfing adventure. I am going to trust people as I was doing till now. I am grateful to whoever invented it that I have such an amazing possibility to meet foreigners, spend time with them, get to know their life stories, share my observations and sometimes even meet them again in another country πŸ™‚

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South Korea Love

Why am I so in love with South Korea? And why this country is just incredible?! Is it because of people I met there? Or the landscapes? Or of what it has to offer? Or how amazing it is sightseeing a city that is so modern and in the same time it had so much of ancient culture and architecture? This whole mixture makes it one-of-a-kind. And I’m definately coming Β back there, next year, for sure! I’m planning it already πŸ™‚
It is funny how much I fell in love with the country, especially that my trip started in the most terrible way it could have. I was landing at 11 PM, late, I know. Yet I wasn’t afraid of landing that late, because I knew the country is a safe one, so even if it happens I need to wander around in the centre looking for the hotel I booked, or any other place I need to look for in the middle of the night, nothing will happen to me. I didn’t know the biggest problem will happen at the airport! So I landed, got my language, exit the area and then looked for an ATM as I needed money. And then problems start :/Β  It was already Sunday night, as when I got my baggage, it was around midnight.
It occured there was only one ATM working at the moment as there was some maintenance being done on others. And the only one working there was not giving me money! Thefirst thing I did was to call the bank I have account in, and they said everything was okay from their side – would they say anything else? I went then to the information center and they said there might be some problems because of the maintenance time. I did not want to take the taxi to the hotel as I prefered to take the night bus. I hate paying for things I do not really need. Anyway for the bus I could only pay by cash (that I did not have) or use their trasportation card, that of course I did not have as I just landed in a foreign county :/ I had some money to exchange, but because it was late, all of the currency exchange points were closed.
In the meantime my hotel reservation was cancelled, to my big surprise. I have no idea why booking.com cancelled it just because I did not show in the hotel :/ So once I got such an information by mail (the Wi-Fi works just perfectly at the airport!) I called the hotel, explained my issues and asked if I still can check in probaly around 3 am. They were fine with it. What made me angry and sad was the fact that at the airport there is only ONE (!!!) company providing ATMs service. As the ATM was not giving me money, and it was to others, I asked the information lady if there are some different ATMs around the area. To my surprise the answer was there are none :/ So it is Sunday, midnight, I am in such a well developed country, and I have problems withdrawing money at the airport! What the f*** is that? Can you imagine how surprising that was?!
So I took a taxi, had no other choice apart from staying at the airpot till 5 or 6 am untill the day life begins. I prefered to check in to the hotel, so I asked the driver to pull over near one of the ATMs that I could withdraw the money in a different ATM, and see if it is a problem with the card or there is another one. A different ATM also didn’t give me the money :/ Now this whole situation made me a bit nervous. Anyway,Β  I started thinking logically, what I always do and try to find a solution. I was able to pay for the taxi by card, I could pay for the hotel by card, so why couldn’t I withdraw the money? So instead of going to sleep I was thinking if I am able to get some money in this so-freaking-well-developped country? And the next day, instead of starting it from sightseeing, I had to figure out how to get the money! Fortunately I found, quite close to the hotel I was staying in, the branch of the bank I have account in and their ATM gave me money πŸ™‚Β  Thank you Citibank, I love you too πŸ™‚ Thinking in advance, I took a bit more that I needed, just in case, because I was not sure if any of other ATMs would give me money. I did not even want to try them again.
By the time I solved my problems it was already past midday. Finding a locker on the central station was a challenge that day because all of them were booked. So I was wandering around the city with my backpack. Fortunately it was only around 11 kg what wasn’t that bad, just a bit inconvenient. And because of it I was moving a bit slow :/ That day I did not see much of Seoul.
At 8 PM the whole crappy situatuion changed as I met my hosts who appeared to be just amazing! We met in the center, they took me to their flat and I spent a great evening with them. They showed me on the map all of the places worth seeing in the city and they were absolutely right! I need to add they were also incredibly prepared for hosting people. There were so many tour guides in the room they offered me for 2 night I could really choose from πŸ™‚ They occured to be such great people that they will stay in my heart for ever πŸ˜‰ Because that day I was not able to see much of the Seoul, the next one I woke up early, left the flat at 8:30 in the morning to have the whole day on the sightseeing. So I did 23 km by foot and I’m sure I haven’t even seen half of the city that I fell in love immediately! I can only say: I love, love, love it!
I love the palace I saw, I love the stream in the centre I walked by, I love all of these skyscrapers around, I love the Seoul Tower and its view, I love the markets I went to, I love the village I went to, and I just love every single spot I saw! I even went on one of the bridges as I like admiring a city from their view. And it did not disappoint me πŸ™‚
I need to go back to South Korea, I want to go back there, I want more of the city!
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So even though the beginning of my South Korea trip sucked, with every single day being there I was loving the country even more! I knew if I did not allow bad emotions to stick to me, it will only get better πŸ™‚ and it did!
And I had some lovely stars on the ceiling when I was sleeping! πŸ™‚ Thanks to my hosts, of course πŸ™‚
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They occurred to be the best ones, so welcoming and wanting to share a piece of their life with a stranger, that means me. Meeting such people makes me continue my Couchsurfing adventure and because of them I know the website is the right place for me to be in πŸ™‚Β  I’m very happy and grateful I had an opportunity to meet people like my lovely Seoul hosts! I know if you are a good person, you only attract good people πŸ™‚ I tested it myself so can guarantee it works πŸ˜€
My next destination in South Korea was its second biggest city – Busan. South of the country and by the ocean with a nice beach, and going there by train was only about three hours. Ticket price 50 euros. And what’s funny is that nobody even checked if I had one on the train πŸ™‚ In there I spent only one night, anyhow I managed to do a bit of sightseeing and meet a girl I hosted two years ago! Another Couchsurfing surprise πŸ™‚ That’s amazing there are people staying at your house and then it might happen in the future, that in fact you meet them again. So we just grabbed some coffee and a cake. It was nice to see her again in a different place πŸ™‚
In Busan and by the ocean there is a lovely park I had a walk and a nap πŸ™‚ It happens to me that I take naps in different cities when I travel. I did it already in Rome, Nice, Thessaloniki and probably much more πŸ™‚ The coastal view is incredible! Check it yourself πŸ™‚
Some tips now:
1. In Busan I had no problems finding a locker for my luggage and they were available on every subway station. It costs 5000 won for the whole day. The machine was taking only banknotes of 1.000. Listen now: there was also a machine at the station exchanging you money to 1.000 banknots. How great is that? How thoughtful of Koreans is that? Do I find it in Europe? No way πŸ™‚ How come not loving Korea even just for that? πŸ™‚
2. The transportation card is centralised, so the one I had from Seoul also worked in Busan. I love Asian inventions a lot!!!
3. If it happens you land at night – get some money before heading to South Korea. I could have exchanged some before, yet I thought that in such a developed country I will not have any problems. How foolish of me that was! Lesson learnt πŸ™‚
4. Their English level? Totally fine. And the people are amazingly helpful. Even if they sometimes might struggle with their communication, they will always help you. They did when I got stuck in the subway and the gate did not want to let me go πŸ™‚ It occured that one way ticket was not enough for the trip I did. The same as in Taiwan – the subway charges you for the kilometers you do, so one way tickets may not always be enough.
Summing of the trip, I need to say that these four days were quite intense, surprising, amazing and not enough! I am really planning of coming back to South Korea next year. I want more of it! I want all of it! Next time maybe I will manage to visit Jeju island? Who knows? The plan is ongoing πŸ™‚
Is the country expensive? For me it isn’t. Of course I did not expect it to be cheap. If you compare it to Vietnam, or Thailand or the Philippines it is much more expensive, but still, in my opinion, very affordable.
Something for the girls – the cosmetics they offer are of really great quality and totally inexpensive. My luggage was 11 kg when I was beginning my Asian trip and only because of Korean cosmetics it got into 16 kg πŸ™‚Β  so the plan for next year is to come back for more cosmetics πŸ˜‰
And I want to see more of Korea – that’s for sure! For me the country in a mixture of Japanese and American style. It is not that strict as Japanese are, yet well-organized and functioning in order. Plus it has this chilled out American mood. At least that is the feeling I had once being there. And I love such feelings! See you soon Korea πŸ™‚

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