A few days ago, ESN Southampton hosted a language café, an event where all the attendants had the chance to speak their own language while also improving their English. There were English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and several other different tables where people could interact in the language of their choice.
I arrived with my Belgian housemate, Tim, who speaks French, but before long, he wandered off to join the Spanish table. At first, I sat at the French table for a while, talking with the people there and greeting everyone, but since I could not really hear what everyone was saying – and, unfortunately, my French isn’t that good so I can only understand half-sentences (FOR NOW!) – I moved to the English table pretty soon after that.
At the English table, there was an abundance of nationalities: Spanish, Greek, Korean, and several more that I cannot name off the top of my head. We had a good time discussing all kinds of topics, mostly starting with “Where are you from?”, “What are you studying?” and “How long are you here for?”
After a while, I met a guy who also spoke some Dutch, and whom I’d met during the Buddy Event a week or so earlier, and he directed me to a few Flemish guys. For those who do not know, Dutch (or actually, Flemish) is one of the official languages in Belgium, and a significant part of the population still speaks it every day. After the two Dutch girls I met on the coach from Gatwick Airport when I arrived here, these were the first two people I met who spoke my language. I was chatting away with them for a little while, but had to get home relatively early to help out my housemate, so I left the event at around 9:30.
I had a good time and enjoyed meeting new people to talk to and speak English, a tiny bit of French, and Dutch with. It was good fun, and when I get better at French, I hope I’ll be able to get around the tables a bit more!
Written by Juliette van Kestern
Juliette is a student coming from Nijmegen in the Netherlands. She is currently on her Erasmus+ exchange and came to Southampton to study English language, literature and linguistics. ‘Very excited to be here’, she thinks this year will be an amazing chapter of her life that she will never forget!