My comprehensive Polyglot Gathering Berlin trip report – part 7
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 part 7 of a multi part story and you can expect a new chapter every other day.
PS. I apologize for not having more pictures, I usually don't take many photos when I'm travelling around.
Part 7 – Conference day two
By this point I should probably start by apologizing, that my recounts of days 2-3-4 of the conference are probably going to have a lot of interference and intertwined story lines. Although I strive to be as correct as possible it is highly possible that I am going to speak of events that happened on a different day than where I put it in this trip report. By the time day 2, which was really day 3, came around I was so sleep deprived and exhausted from the heavy program that putting things into long-term memory required an exceptional effort.
Day 2 was one of the first days where I met up with Levent, a high level academic student who was at the conference in an attempt to gather data for his thesis. We quickly connected on day 1 over the awful coffee, but also because he lives in London and I had been living there previously. MUCH to our luck and delight we were able to find, that the little kiosk down the road had a proper espresso coffee maker, and that they made the coffee with care and attention. To add an extra incentive to the mix, it was also very affordable, with a double espresso coming in at just €1.60. Not to mention very friendly and nice people and outside tables.
On day two I had pegged at least two talks I had to go and see. The first one was short cuts to learning Russian, which sadly did not bring me much to take away. Perhaps I was already too far into learning it, but still always nice to hear presentations about the language one is currently studying. The second one was Benny Lewis: Travel Hacking, which I originally thought was just a fancy new name for what Benny usually always talked about, but after having talked to him privately he told me that this talk was much more about practical tips for taking the leap to go travel, rather than focusing on languages which his previous talks usually focused on. He drew me in by giving an example of booking a RETURN ticket from Dallas, Texas to Madrid, Spain for a mere $300. That is mindbogglingly cheap. The biggest reason I wanted to go, though, was because the lifestyle he presented in the talk is one I want to follow once I’m freed of the grasp of my Bachelor’s degree. He also talked about the benefits of minimalism, and so I was inspired to start selling out of my crap that I just have lying around. I really enjoyed the talk.
For the event I had brought along my HD Webcam and my table-top Microphone. The plan originally was to record episodes for the ACTUAL FLUENCY PODCAST, but also to host a live streamed event every day where people could reflect on the events of the day and try to convey some of the event love to the people who were unable to attend. Sadly as I discovered on day 1 the wifi was not good enough to stream in any meaningful quality, so I gave that up. But I still had not recorded any interviews yet and it was now Monday, with the event ending officially on Wednesday. One of the problems of interviewing at this event is that you could literally randomly pick somebody and they would have a fascinating story to tell. I probably could have done that more, but I went into the event with the aim of getting the more elusive people for a chat. The people who I knew would be too busy to do an online interview, but might be persuaded to part with half an hour of their time in exchange for sharing their wisdom and knowledge to potentially thousands of people.
I wanted to talk to Niels Iversen, because his low-tech method of word listing was incredibly fascinating to me, and because I prefer to go into interviews not knowing much about the person, I skipped his talk – to watch it later online of course. After Benny’s talk it was Richard Simcott’s turn to talk about maintaining multiple languages. I’m incredibly fascinated by Richard, he is one of the biggest inspirations I have for starting my journey and so I had to show up and hear what he had to say. He had a minor presentation and then opened the floor up to questions, what annoyed me and also sadly became a bit of a theme was that people in the audience used the question time to either preface irrelevant questions with a huge back story (IE: telling their story) or they simply answered the questions other people had for Richard. Now I don’t disapprove of a group mentality where we help each other out, but please, during talks have respect for the speaker and realize that he or she has the floor now. If one is interested in discussions, then they were usually in room 3. I know Richard opened it up to a more casual level, but still, people come to his talk to hear about what he has to say, and offer, not somebody else. I also find it incredibly rude when somebody raises their hand and uses question time to openly criticize a presentation. If you have any critique of a presentation, wait until it is actually over and then approach the speaker.
Alright, rant over – sorry about that. Not much happened during the rest of the day except that I got to hang out with great people in the rooftop bar and then later in the Gufujo – aka the tea room, where I finally got to talk a bit more with David James, which I'm really happy I got to do, he is an amazing language learner and interesting person as well. As I concluded the day I had organized to interview a few people, but with Tuesday coming, time was running out, and I knew that I still wanted to participate in the event, without locking myself in the studio.
In the next report I’ll talk about day 3, interviewing mega-stars and much more 🙂