The 2019 Polyglot Gathering: Friday. Sunny Days, Not-So-Blind-Love, and the Annual Pilgrimage to Slovak Pub

Hey everyone! Unfortunately, most of my accommodations either did not have computers available or I did not have time to blog, so now that I’m home in NYC, I can continue blogging from where I left off, which was…

I woke up on Friday morning from my hotel not expecting it to rain anymore. It was a bit cloudy, so it was an improvement, to hope that my clothing and shoes would not get soaked on that day. There was a talk that I wanted to attend early on Friday morning, and despite the short rest, I was able to wake up, get ready, get to the university, and get my customary fruit smoothie before I attended said talk, which was titled “Láska je slepa, ça fait même apprendre les langues.” (Love is blind, even in learning languages) presented by a couple, Simon and Magda. They met in last year’s Polyglot Gathering, at the same time when I met someone ( and didn’t have the same good luck, but that’s another story), and to be more specific, at a bench outside the university near the No-English Zone. In this talk, they discussed how after they met, instead of just simply communicating in English, they challenged one another to learn the other’s native language. Simon is from the French speaking part of Belgium, which meant that Magda had to learn French, and Magda is Slovak, so Simon took the challenge of learning Slovak. Throughout the talk, they showed each other’s mistakes in learning the other’s native language and the fun they were having in trying to progress. Both were very fun people, and after the talk, I was able to chat with them and we became friends. Some of my friends went to that talk as well and we all enjoyed it very much.

The next talk I attended was also a fun talk, on how languages make Eurovision songs succeed or fail, by Aleksandar Medjedovic and Marta Melnyk. I was able to see part of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and liked some performances, so I grew more curious on the topic, so it was an easy choice to attend. It is unfortunate to see that English songs have an easier chance of winning Eurovision, although someone that can write a great song in a different language is able to win at times, as Eurovision history has shown. After the talk, it was time for lunch.

Since it was a sunny day, it was an excellent opportunity to be outside and hang out in the No-English Zone, which is a huge hit at every Polyglot Gathering, and this year was no different. On this day, I helped out someone with their Spanish on that day. After the talks resumed, I spent time in the Gufujo area trying to work on my presentation, and then chatting with other attendees, and sometimes playing games with them, or watching. I felt that I got plenty of work done that afternoon, but rehearsing the workshop in public seemed weird to me.

Once we reached dinnertime, while everyone either had dinner at the campus or did something else, I thought about going to Bratislava’s famous local restaurant Slovak Pub. If any of my readers haven’t been there, it’s a great restaurant that serves traditional Slovak food, and I just had to make a trip here. I ran into another group of attendees having dinner, so I agree to sit with them, chat, and have dinner. A stellar moment was when an accordion player joined the restaurant, and started playing in front of groups. When he got to our group, the others were annoyed, but a lady at the next table tipped the accordion player and may have asked him to play in another room, as he proceeded to leaving our section and going to another one. After I was done, I thanked them for the time, said farewell, and went back to the university.

On Friday night, the evening event was a Networking Night. A participant was given a sticker of 4 various colors, each having a different meaning of what was a participant looking to find. I did not participate as I wasn’t sure about going to it, so I don’t know exactly what happened in the Esperanto Room that night. There was also an alternate event that night at the university called Pechakucha Night. Here, it was similar to the Gathering’s Lightning Talks, but one had to show 20 slides and have 20 seconds to discuss a slide and move to the next one. Attendees raved about some of the talks that occurred in the Vortoj Room in the event. I stayed in the Gufujo area continuing to work on the workshop, and waited until everyone was done, and we started making plans for the night.

This time, I wanted to take the initiative to have people join me at the bar near the plaza in the Old Town. Whereas I failed the night before, I succeeded on that night. The one part where I didn’t succeed was in choosing the right route to the plaza. I wanted everyone to take the 88 local bus into the eastern part of the city, and walk to the Old Town that way, but someone led the crew to follow the same path as the night before, and so, me, a few of the New York polyglots, some new friends, including Simon and Magda, and a few other American polyglots, proceeded to the bar, via the west, walking from Novy Most, the New Bridge. It was a longer walk than the eastern path, and we were all tired by the time we got there. But we enjoyed ourselves, and we realized that most of us went last year, but we didn’t meet then. Because hundreds of people attend this event, one isn’t always able to meet and speak to everyone, and this could be for various reasons. There are the outgoing people, which are usually the most successful at meeting many people. There’s introverts, that don’t like to meet many people, and would rather hang out in smaller groups, chat with others 1 on 1, or spend time on themselves. There are those that came with a group of friends, but are willing to meet and spend time with others, and those who only wanted to hang out with their circle of friends, and not meet anyone else. And in an event such as this, it’s easier to be friends with someone that you have common languages with, than someone whom which you don’t have languages in common with. I really think it’s just the nature of these events, and even if we have the freedom, this year, one was never able to get to meet and have chats with (number to be revealed in the Sunday Gathering blog post, unless you already know the number 😉 ) polyglots who attended the event, it is almost impossible, partly because of the type of people listed above, and also, because there are just too many people.

It was another fun night. I felt really happy meeting more cool people, but as I went to sleep that night, I realized that a half of the Polyglot Gathering had passed. What was in store for the other half of the conference?

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