In this post I'd like to share a few tips and tricks for the upcoming polyglot gathering. Some of the tips will apply to any gathering or conference in the world, but I'll also have some specific tips and tricks for the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin – which is coming very soon.
Visiting the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last year was a truly life-changing experience. I was so chuffed about it that I actually wrote a collection of reports from there totalling over 10,000 words. If you're curious you can find part 1 here and go on from there.
The 2015 version of the gathering will have about 30% more people and I know there are many first-timers coming along this time, this is why I decided to write this post with a few tips and tricks. I hope you enjoy them and I hope to see you there!
1. Coffee – The coffee at the hostel breakfast is borderline undrinkable. If you are staying in the hostel be sure to buy your coffee from the front desk or even better about 100 meters down the road. There's a little shop and they make fantastic coffee at affordable prices.
2. Rooftop bar – There's a very nice rooftop bar in the hostel, where last year a LOT of socialising took place. I highly recommend visiting that as soon as it opens. They also have a happy hour where you can get a pint of local lager for just €2. Mind you the usual price of €3 is still pretty good!
3. Programme – Study the programme prior to arriving and figure out what talks you'd prefer to see in person. All the talks will be recorded, so you won't miss anything, but if there are some topics that interest you particularly or some speakers that you really like be sure to try and attend those in person. Has to be said though, socialising and mingling goes on 24-7 so don't expect to make all your planned talks. I was often “stuck” in the lobby having fabulous conversations while the talks were going on upstairs.
4. Talks – With over 300 people signed up, popular talks might fill up before the starting time. Be sure to arrive a bit early to guarantee a seat for your chosen talks.
5. Sightseeing – Don't expect to do much sightseeing on the Conference days, there is literally something going on 24-7. Last year, save for Coffee down the street, I rarely left the hostel. You can always stay an extra day on either side or even come back to Berlin at a later date. Don't miss some of the best parts of the conference (the after-hours socialising, mingling etc) just because you wanted to go sightseeing. The sights will be there later, the gathering is only once a year.
6. Keep it down – The hostel is situated around residential apartment blocks, so while it's imperative to have fun, be sure to keep it down and act respectfully while at the gathering.
7. Badge – Make sure you have your badge on you at all times. It's a great conversation starter and gives people quick info about what languages you are into. Last year almost all my conversations started with somebody checking out my badge.
8. Sleep – Don't expect to get much. The lobby “bar” is 24-7 and last year there was socialising and mingling all the way into the wee hours. With Breakfast at like 7:30 you are unlikely to get your full 8 hours every day. Don't worry about it, everyone else aren't either.
9. Don't be shy – When I first arrived last year I only knew a handful of the 200+ people there and it was hard to meet new people, but simply by shaking somebody's hand and saying hello the conversation was started. I also recommend the canteen, where I had some of the best encounters. Of course this is only for people who get free breakfast in their hostel pay or paid for the meal tickets separately.
10. Gufujo – The Esperanto-inspired tea room is a wonderful retreat if the noise and bustle outside is getting a bit too much. Please remember that in the spirit of the Gufujo all conversation should be made softly.
11. Have fun! – The most important key to having a great gathering is to have fun! So don't be shy, nervous or worry about it. We'll all have a great time.
(12. Say Hi! – Be sure to come say hi to me if you're there!)
I'm looking forward to meeting everyone and experiencing some great talks and presentations. I literally cannot wait!