Couchsurfing is not a dating site

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He wore a long-sleeve tee that framed his muscular arms but did little to hide his protruding belly. He introduced himself as Raul, and seemed friendly enough. I was about to sleep in the same house with a man who was a complete stranger. “I’m sorry you had to pick me up so late.” “Don’t worry, I was awake,” he answered.

He was found guilty of two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault and is serving a ten-year sentence.I should have handled the situation better, but now, I felt stuck. * * * It was the summer after my third year of college when I signed up to study abroad in England.The location itself wasn’t as exotic as I had hoped, but the school was thirty minutes from an airport, which meant easy jet-setting to different European countries every weekend. I logged hours in front of my computer scouring sites for discount anything. The prospect of free housing intrigued me, but the ideology of couch surfing is what hooked me: “A world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter.” As I navigated the site, I fell more and more in love with this adventurous idea of experiencing culture through someone who lives it.Plus I didn’t want to pay twenty-five Euros to stay in a hostel for a couple hours, especially since my tour of southern Italy would depart at six a.m. Milena instructed me in an email to ride a train from Florence to the Cornelia stop. A man sitting nearby drew me a picture of a penis going into a vagina, then looked at me expectantly. The Cornelia stop ended up farther from the Vatican than Milena had led on.I had been disheartened when Milena emailed two days before I was supposed to show up to tell me she had an unexpected out-of-town emergency.

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