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This Website Lets You Look Out of a Stranger’s Window Somewhere Else in the World

Mary Grace Garis

Mary Grace GarisJuly 14, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/Roberto Lo Savio/EyeEm

If you’ve been feeling trapped for a long time, well, you must live in America during a pandemic that’s been radically ill-handled across the board. Basically: same here. But if you’re sick of looking out the same old window with the same old fire escape, the same old mourning doves, and the same old couple that literally just has sex all day (like, you have curtains—use them), we have an easy solve: the Window Swap.

What’s is Window Swap? It’s a quarantine project started by Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam where you open a new window on somewhere in the world. The view you get might be from a window in Ukraine, Australia, Portugal, Hong Kong—the window swap is completely random and opens on every continent. If you get sick of it peering at someone’s backyard waterfall in Singapore, you can switch to someone’s backyard balcony garden in Munich or listen to the traffic go by in Beijing.

And if you’re curious about how that’s possible—because yeah, it sounds a little voyeuristic—don’t worry. This is a very voluntary platform: you can submit a 10-minute, horizontal HD video of your window and frame, including your name and location for credits. All windows, weathers, and sceneries are warmly welcomed!

What you get on either side of the glass is a sort of ASMR experience meets virtual travel simulator. For those social distancing in a more urban, granite-rich, pigeon populated area, picturesque nature scenes can be a huge boost to your mental health. There’s even research around how simply looking at nature cues and green imagery can help lower stress levels. For those who got stranded with their parents in the suburbs indefinitely (been there), you might just need a rainy London skyline and lines of brown apartments. We’re all yearning for something.

And if your issue is more about wanderlust, this doesn’t even have to be the only window into different locations. Window swap calls upon The Paris Review’Windows on the World, which has since been somewhat repurposed in Windows on the World: 50 Writers, 50 Views ($11). It’s all about taking a deep breath and teleporting to somewhere, anywhere that isn’t here. Or maybe more pressingly, feeling connected.

Maybe it’s because I’m more of a homebody, but there’s something specific I get out of Window Swap. It’s this reminder that not only is the world wide, but worlds exist within other people. The fact that these are the lives and realities of real people actually gets to me. We’re experiencing a plague that feels very insular and endless, one that puts limitations on the luxuries we once took for granted. But we can still get some new perspective, change up our view. We can still peer into the worlds of others, and technology can serve as a facilitator until we meet again.

All that, and a scenery change is just a fun, pleasant vortex to fall into when the fire escape becomes tiresome. I love my mourning doves, but those rusted slats on the fire escape really get me down sometimes.

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