作者：By Arthur Asseraf
A while back I caught a news report on something called “couch surfing1” and the network of unbelievably trusting souls who make this phenomenon possible. They offer to put up travelers， free of charge， for one or two nights to give them a place to lay their heads and help them on their ways. At first blush， it sounded dubious.2 I mean， inviting strangers into one’s home？ For a sleepover？ Gimme a break.3
However， I was intrigued4. I decided to investigate. I read profile upon profile of members of the couch-surfing community， and then my curiosity went into overdrive and I decided that the only way to truly learn about this phenomenon was to dive in.5 And so I planned a trip to Finland， a country I’ve always wanted to explore. I would travel the length and breadth6 of the place by train， and I would couch surf at every stop.
If ever any anxiety existed—and there is always an element of anxiety when stepping into the unknown—it evaporated when my first host met me at the train station in Helsinki.7 Ari looked like my idea of a typical Finn： tall， blond， and blue-eyed. However， Finns were also supposed to be famously reserved. Ari was anything but.8 He was a live wire， giving me an effusive welcome and hiking with me to his apartment， where he showed me the sleeper sofa， served me tea， and then engaged me in animated conversation.9 He also handed me a key with a directive to come and go as I pleased.
If this was what couch surfing was all about—trust and welcome—then I had gotten off to a spectacular start.
I quickly discovered one of the bittersweet10 aspects of couch surfing： having to say goodbye so soon after getting to know somebody. But to paraphrase Robert Frost’s famous words， I had miles to go before I slept， and so， after two days， I headed to my train and the coastal city of Turku，11 where my next host， Juri， met me.
Lean and wild-haired， Juri was the anti-Ari， but no less generous. He wanted to hang out and dedicated a big chunk of his day to showing me around his city and teaching me how to use the bus system for the forays I would make under my own steam.12
As I boarded my next train for the north of the country， I began to dwell upon13 this couch-surfing idea. What impelled14 these people to open their homes to strangers？ To hand over their keys？ To want to spend time with these travelers？ I concluded that there was an element of curiosity， but also a desire to reach out and lend a hand to like-minded folks who might， at some level， enrich their own lives.15 This came home to me in spades when my next host drove 30 kilometers16—nearly 20 miles—to pick me up at the train station and take me to her family’s home in a rural area of central Finland.
The family of five received me like a long-lost relative， showed me around， shared their food， and chatted with me into the night. The day before I was an unknown quantity， but now they were asking when I would be back.
The journey continued—to another Ari in Kokkola， to Jamppa in Oulu， and Ville in Kuopio， where my host took me to a traditional Finnish smoke sauna on the banks of a mist-shrouded lake in the woods.17 As we cooled off by the lake after one of our rounds in the sauna’s inferno18， I spoke up. “Ville， this， as we say in English， is the icing on the cake19.”
Seven cities in 14 days. Seven hosts. Seven new friends. Before I left for my Finland odyssey20 an acquaintance back home remarked， “Aren’t you afraid？” I wasn’t sure of an appropriate response then， but I am now： Of what？ If couch surfing taught me anything it’s this： Most people are good. Most people are generous. And there is a basic human impulse21 to connect.
Where will couch surfing take me next？ Who knows？ But I can’t wait to find out.
1. couch-surfing： 沙发冲浪，沙发客。最初是一个由美国人发起的交换住宿信息的平台，逐渐也指代这种现象，即在旅行过程中住别人家的沙发，并在主人的引领下对当地的美景美食有更全面的了解。“沙发客”既可以节省旅行费用，也可以结交到更多朋友，为旅途增添更多奇妙感。同时“沙发客”的概念里也包括愿意提供自家的沙发给他人。
2. at first blush： 乍看之下；dubious： 不可靠的，可疑的。
4. intrigue： 激起……的兴趣。
5. 我查阅了大量关于沙发冲浪团体成员的资料，好奇心也变得愈发强烈。我决定采取那个唯一能够真正了解这一现象的方法——亲自去试一试。overdrive： 超速，过度；dive in： 跳水，这里指沉浸其中，参与其中。
6. length and breadth： 四面八方。
7. evaporate： 蒸发，消失不见；Helsinki：赫尔辛基，芬兰首都。
8. 虽然芬兰人以高冷著称，但是阿里恰恰不是这样的。reserved： 高冷的，缄默的；anything but： 恰恰不，根本不。
9. live wire： 火线，带电的电线，这里指生龙活虎的人；effusive： 热情洋溢的；animated： 兴致勃勃的，活跃的。
10. bittersweet： 苦乐参半的。
11. paraphrase： 用……的话来说，引述；Robert Frost： 罗伯特·弗罗斯特（1874—1963），美国诗人，其诗歌多从农村生活中取材，曾获得四次普利策奖，被称为“美国文学中的桂冠诗人”，本句引用了“miles to go before I sleep”，出自其《雪夜林边小驻》；Turku： 图尔库，位于芬兰西南部的港口城市。
12. a big chunk of： 大量；foray： 短途旅行；on one’s own steam： 独自一人。
13. dwell upon： 仔细回想，深思。
14. impel： 驱使，激励。
15. 我的结论是，这一方面因为好奇心，但也出于向志同道合的人施以援手的渴望。这些旅行者在一定程度上也丰富了当地人自己的生活。like-minded： 志趣相投的。
16. come home to： 被完全领会，使认识到；in spades： 肯定地。
17. Kokkola： 科科拉，位于芬兰西部的港口城市；Oulu： 奥卢，芬兰北部最大的城市；Kuopio：库奥皮奥，芬兰中南部城市；smoke sauna： 烟熏桑拿；mist-shrouded： 雾气弥漫的。
18. inferno： 炼狱，这里比喻桑拿房里的高温。
19. the icing on the cake： 英语谚语，蛋糕上的糖霜，指锦上添花。
20. odyssey： // 原指《奧德赛》，是古希腊最重要的两部史诗之一（另一部是《伊利亚特》），相传为荷马所著。全诗描述了俄底修斯（Ulysses）10年惊心动魄的奇幻海上历险。现引申为对艰难人生有教益的长时间旅程或经历。
21. impulse： 冲动。