Socializing with Strangers
My name is Elizabeth, and I’m new to Davis and I’m saying “yes” to new experiences. Last Sunday, I had dinner and played trivia with thirty strangers. I am not a particularly shy person, but I don’t consider spending an evening with total strangers a relaxing thing to do. Nevertheless, for the sake of this blog and meeting people in my new town, I RSVP’d for a potluck dinner hosted by the Davis Couch Surfing group, and I agreed to attend Pub Trivia at The Davis Graduate, to which I was invited by Davis Life Magazine editor Cary Arnold’s son, Mark Ling who is a senior at UC Davis and editor-in-Chief of The California Aggie newspaper.
The potluck was held by Emily Hautamaki, a member of the Davis Couch Surfing group. Couch Surfing is the largest hospitality exchange program in the world. By creating an online profile and verifying their identity through credit card information, travelers are able to search for free accommodations around the world, as well as to offer their own couches to fellow travelers. The organization focuses on the cultural aspect of this exchange, as they emphasize in their mission statement: “We envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to diversity with curiosity, appreciation and respect.” I joined this community during the summer of 2009, after I had studied abroad in Madrid for a semester. Wanting to travel, but looking for a more authentic experience than staying in hostels as well as operating on a tight budget, a friend and I used Couch Surfing to find accommodations in many cities. We attended a yoga class taught in German, were fed more bratwurst in three days than I’ve eaten in my entire life, and participated in a “free hugs” demonstration. It was a great experience, and I wanted to get involved in Couch Surfing once I was settled in Davis. Luckily, there is a large and friendly group of Couch Surfers in Davis, and at the potluck we shared homemade bread, lentil curry, Rice Krispie Treats, and our best Surfing experiences. It was a great way to meet new people and to feel like part of the travel community again. If you’re interested in checking out Couch Surfing, you can find more information at www.couchsurfing.org.
After the potluck, I drove to The Davis Graduate for their Pub Trivia, which is held every Sunday at 9 pm (for more information, visit www.davisgrad.com). Will Arnold, the quizmaster, thinks up categories and questions throughout the week, and then puts together the presentation while watching Sunday football. While asking the questions, Will is composed, funny, and leaves the right amount of time between questions for teams to answer and even to socialize a little bit. This was my first visit not only to Pub Trivia, but to The Grad. I enjoyed the great beer selection, the myriads of TV’s and screen projectors around the large room, and the laid-back atmosphere. It’s also the only trivia game in town that uses visual cues, which helped me and my woeful lack of trivia knowledge.
When my boyfriend, Kevin Lockwood, and I walked in the door, we found Mark and his group of friends: UCD seniors Trevor Kuss, LeeAnn Meyer, and Ben Taylor, Cary’s younger son and Sac City College student Spencer Ling, and Cary’s husband, realtor Jon Sanchez. Although I hadn’t realized it before, playing trivia is a great way to get to know people. Q: Why does Trevor Kuss know about ancient German legends? A: He is a quarter German. Q: Why does LeeAnn Meyer know so much about sports? A: She plays on three soccer teams. In this way, I felt like I knew the people on my team better at the end of the night than I would have had I spent an entire day asking trivial questions about their majors and hometowns. It turned out that the chemistry of our group was just right, and we won the game! We received the winning prize of a $50 gift certificate to The Grad, while the second and third place teams took home $25 gift certificates. We will return this Sunday night to use our prize and to compete again, if anyone wants to witness glory in action.