Welcome to my Berlin trip report. I decided to write a very comprehensive trip report, in an attempt to try and recreate my own participation in the event. This way my hope is that people who were unable to attend can at least get a feel for just how incredible the event was. This is a multi part story and you can read the other parts by selecting the links below.
PS. I apologize for not having more pictures, I usually don't take many photos when I'm travelling around.
PART 10 – LAST DAY!
Here I am, part 10, the final part of my trip report about going to Polyglot Berlin. It was truly a life changing experience and in this last report, I will try to write down some thoughts of just why it was so amazing. The previous 9 trip reports contained a lot of what I actually did and saw, but this tenth will be more about feeling and emotion.
One of the first feelings I have to mention is one that my good friend Christopher Huff also mentions on his blog, basically the feeling of being accepted for who you are and being surrounded by like-minded. I never really felt like I belonged anywhere, but at polyglot Berlin I felt it for the first time. It goes beyond just hobbies, I have been hanging out with people who shared my other hobbies and I never really fit in. I think it is because people who take interests in foreign languages and cultures have this amazing personality usually and if you throw them all in the same room the buzz is just electric. Remember also I only speak 2 languages to a high level, my German is somewhat usable with many errors and a high level of understanding, but I am enjoying the event as basically a duoglot. That really says something about the community as well. Although it was hard to practice in the Alligatorejo (the alligator room), because technically I was not allowed to speak English, German and Danish which are my 3 languages. Later on I did discover that the no-German rule only applied to native speakers and was not made due to the venue being in Germany.
Another observation I made was that people were exactly as I had imagined them from my online interactions with them. Even in most cases I would say that people were actually nicer and friendlier – if that was even possible! Everyone I asked about an interview said yes and there were no complaints about me taking half an hour, or more in some cases, of their time. Richard Simcott, who I had been dying to meet and talk to since I even learned about the polyglot community was exceptionally like himself. Patient with his fans, like myself, and even took the time to talk to me on camera. After the interview he presented the company he was working for and suggested I apply if I could see myself doing the work they were doing. I applied thinking that I would probably get a nice rejection, but no I had two interviews and I’m now about to commence training for the position, something that would have never happened without Richard. So I am very grateful for having met him and I am looking forward to starting work and hopefully making him proud.
Benny is another example of the real life version totally outdoing any expectation one might have had about him. In his videos and posts he seems like a happy, genuine guy who just wants to share his passion for languages and language learning. This is exactly the Benny I met in Berlin. And you might say, well why were you ever in doubt? I wasn’t per say, but who is to know how becoming a bestselling author affects somebody? Either way I’m happy Benny is his own self and he took out a ton of time to just socialize with fans and hang around talking about tons of subjects. He also, totally independently, signed my 2nd (or is it 5th?) copy of Fluent in 3 Months with a fantastic message that I might share in the future.
Every night when I was lying in what I consider a horrible hotel bed, I thought about just how crazy the whole event was. I had only started my journey in February and already I felt part of a bigger community. It motivated me greatly to get back to learning as well, but damn. The chain of events that had to happen for me to be in Berlin and then meeting all these wonderful people. For all this I truly feel blessed. I believe that this is my destiny and it’s invigorating to have found it.
I promised in my last post that I would just share my last day of traveling, as a few things did happen. I had spent a fair amount of time with Karen (Rutland) from England at the conference, whom I seemed to share many personality traits and interests with. That’s actually another point to bring up, the women of the language learner community are so smart and always keep me interested, whereas if I go to a Danish bar I will hear Danish girls talking about the latest episode of Big Brother or equivalent reality show going on. It’s all fluff and gossip and I can’t stand it! Anyway, Karen really loves books and she wanted to go to the Café where you could buy foreign language books for a euro. This was incredibly fortunate for me, because I was going to go to the very same Café on my first day, but I was turned away from going due to the weather and the effort of navigating Berlin on my own. As we were ready to leave I was talking to Andrew (Williams) and invited him to join us, which he quickly accepted.
So we set out to find this mythical café. It wasn’t hard to find. Very typical DDR architecture surrounding it gave the entire area an eerie mood of despair and oppression. The café was great. Decent products at decent prices and it was furnished like a living room, with very comfy chairs and massive oak tables. We hastily drank our coffee and ate our croissants, because we were all excited to go hunting in the cellar of the café where allegedly mass amounts of books were for sale for just one euro. Although I’m not a book person, having grown up in the computer age, I still wanted to see if I could find some Russian, since finding written Russian in Denmark is a little difficult. You can see what I ended up picking up from the Café below, the prize find is by far the 1000 Russian Words picture book (with English translations) from a Hungarian publisher.
After our book hunt we went to a very interesting part of Berlin on Andrew’s recommendation and had lunch, and he generously paid for the three of us, even after he paid for the coffee as well. Such a nice guy and I hope you will all enjoy my talk with him, which will be hitting YouTube very shortly. We parted ways and I set off for Schönefeld Airport. The rest of my trip home was fairly uneventful with me arriving home at around 1 am, very tired, but there is no rest for the wicked as I had two separate oral exams that day. The conference was now well and truly over and real life was back, now the challenge going forward is to inject as much Polyglot Berlin into every day as I can.
Thank you so much for reading this, my trip report came to 10 reports with over 10,000 words written. I'm not sure I will do such an extensive one again, but if you wouldn't mind taking a minute to comment – do you like this format, or should I be more concise in the future?
Kris is the founder of Actual Fluency, and has spent the last 8 years becoming an expert in language learning software, methods, and techniques.
Originally from Denmark, he now lives in Portugal and speaks 5+ languages at varying levels. His other interests are Wine, Online Marketing, and Travelling.