Polyglot Gathering Berlin 2015 Trip Report

I just came home from my trip to Berlin to take part in the Polyglot Gathering. Last year was a life-changing event and I've literally been counting the days since I left last year until the day I could return. In this post I'll share my experience of the 2015 version and try and explain some of the differences or similarities from last year.

Last year I barely made it. There had been an internal sign-up going for some time, before the polyglot gathering was announced to the public so there wasn't a ton of seats available when I first saw it. As an unemployed student my finances weren't great, but for some reason I just signed up and blew caution to the wind. Something in me was telling me; “You just gotta to this.” I'm not sure what it was, but as I had recently found languages as a path of life it seemed like this was the perfect event.

The rest is history. Last year I was so excited about the trip I wrote a 10-part trip report. You can check out part 1 here.

I won't be doing 10 trip reports this year. That was excessive.

The Gathering this year had few surprises for me, it was just an over-all awesome event. It was fantastic to meet so many of my friends from last year and as always be introduced to new friends.

The day before the day before the gathering

I had accidentally booked my flight 2 days before the gathering was set to begin, but fortunately for me others had done the same. I hadn't been in Berlin for long before I found myself in a tiny Mesopotamian restaurant and once again being completely bewildered by the menu. This seems to happen to me often in Berlin, particularly in the company of Judith and Chuck.

I ended up picking a lamb dish with multiple kinds of cheeses and it was fantastic. What a wonderful start to the trip.

I also met Roberto Salazar there, an incredible polyglot who I'd met on Judith's Esperanto course last year. I started a running joke with saying “Saluton!” to him every time I saw him, because we had both forgotten most of the Esperanto we had learned during that course. However there is a reason for this madness, as I'll come back to a little later.

As a hobby poker player I also wanted to try to play a little poker, so after having met a lot of people already, including Peter from the US, I grabbed a taxi to the Spielbank in the center. I had a good time in spite of being tired and it was fun to play some cards again. Knowing what was ahead I decided to leave relatively early, to prepare myself for the epic event coming up.

I didn't make the best of impressions of my room-mate though as I came home about midnight, which I would say for a hostel is relatively early, but the bathroom door was wide open against the main door, so when I came in it made a loud spectacle and woke him up. I didn't know him at all, and he didn't bother with a reply to my apologies, but merely turned over in bed with a grunt.

Very awkward way to start the gathering. Anyway it was only going to be for one night as my friend Viktor Berrjod would be taking over the day after.

The day before

On the day before the gathering, the atmosphere was already getting electric. I met more and more friends, old and new and I felt instantly comfortable back in Berlin. I hung around the venue and even took part in some of the polyglot games, hosted by Cesco and Miro, that were running as a warm-up. One of the hardest tasks was having to listen to two different stories in two different foreign languages at the same time! So I was listening to a Russian story in one ear and a German story in the other ear. After which I had to answer questions based on the text.

I completely failed the Russian and did okay with the German, but the questions were also a lot easier for the German and it's a stronger language of mine. After the first round of games I decided to socialise around again, which as you can probably tell is my favourite activity.

An uneventful evening with socialising at dinner as well as in the rooftop bar and lobby saw me go to bed relatively early again. Not willing to miss anything of the first day.

The Polyglot Gathering 2015