Happiness can be as simple as a pot of freshly brewed English Breakfast tea with friends and a special hat to celebrate a birthday.
All around the world, people are recognising that 'progress' should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy at all costs. All 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given a greater priority and today, 20th March, has been declared the International Day of Happiness.
The women in the picture are two of my good friends, Vinitha and Shirin, originally from Sri Lanka and Kenya who, like myself (Canadian by birth), we are enthusiastic Londoners, enjoying the best that 'our' city has to offer - including lots of inviting tea shops to celebrate birthdays with 'proper' tea and yummy cakes.
The special local tea shops (who wants to go to Starbucks while on exchange in London?) are exactly the sorts of hidden gems that your home exchange partners in London will be able to direct you to (many Home Base Holidays members compile very detailed lists of things to do and places to visit for their guests). Such lists will be adapted to suit the needs of their exchange visitors, depending on their ages and any special interests.
Staying in a hotel, sure, you will usually find a rack of information leaflets and, if you're lucky, staff members prepared to answer your questions (if they have the time and knowledge), but nothing beats having information compiled just for you as a way of helping you make the most of your visit wherever in the world you arrange a home swap.