Meeting my Airbnb Host

I came back to my airbnb after walking 30 minutes from a bus stop and saw a car parked out.

Someone must be moving in I thought, I was intrigued yet dreaded to find out who it was.

To my surprise it was a middle age lady in one of the empty rooms taking pictures.

It was the airbnb host.

She had a kind smile, and spoke english with an accent.

She asked where I stayed and I told her upstairs, A3. She began explaining that she was the one communicating with me on Airbnb messages.

I was a little embarrassed, since my first day here I was overwhelmed, so I said some things how there were 9 rooms in the apartment and I wasn't comfortable staying here. I also shortened my stay on the first day itself.

I was about to heat up my $9 bento box from 99 ranch for dinner but saw her moving a chair into the house and I went to help her.

We got to the age-old "where you are from" question and I blurted out Mandarin once she mentioned she was from China.

I usually try to keep conversations in English. Even back at university, I wouldn't converse in mandarin with a Chinese, because it usually backfires when I fail to express myself due to my primary school level of Chinese vocabulary.

She asked if I needed anything, and I asked about the red bicycle that's been sitting the living room the past five days I have been here, untouched and unmoved.

She mentioned it was a girl's bike, but she could lend me a bike that belonged to her nephew at her house nearby.

She said to give her 20 minutes, and we can go check on the bike together.

It was already 7:30pm, and I was getting hungry, but I couldn't turn down this opportunity.

What I initially thought would be a 5 minute thing turned out to be over an hour, we went to two separate houses. After discovering the bike had a flat tire at the first house, we moved the bike to a second house to get an air pump, but the pump we found at a shed was a ball pump. So we ended up leaving the bike there, and headed back to bring me home.

In the car, I got to know her a little better.

She moved here from China with her only daughter in 2017, and has been in California since. "Time flies" she said. She's an art teacher, and that influenced her daughter to study art therapy. Apparently, there are only 42 universities that offer this. She expressed her dissatisfaction about the daughter's choice of career path, but was understanding given that's her interest.

We also talked about my major, living cost in Iowa, whether I wanted to buy a car that she was selling for 2k, about my parents visiting, what my dad does, about durian being really expensive in California (~10 dollars per pound), and $60 in China.

She asked me about layoffs and AI, and my brain's english to chinese translation feature wasn't working very well, but I think she got some idea of what I was saying.

Even though we both have completely different backgrounds and upbringing, we had a shared understanding of what it's like to be far away from home, and the struggles of starting a life somewhere new.

I like this part about Airbnbs.

You get to meet different people from all walks of life and realize we're all just the same underneath.