Hamburg might not have the flair of Berlin or the skyscrapers of Frankfurt but this important port town is starting to draw in more and more people, thanks to its good universities and slightly rough-around-the-edges feel. Add to that, a picturesque lake in the middle of this up-and-coming city, and you have a destination that will be welcoming more, not less, expats in the coming years.
If you are one of those looking to settle (or have already done so) in Hamburg, it might also do to attend a language exchange event, or two. Taking part in language exchanges is a wonderful way of not only meeting people in your new home but also improving your German (or other target language) skills. For that, there’s no better place to start than going to the University of Hamburg Sprachcafé.
The Language Café (or Sprachcafé, in German) is a series of events organised by the University of Hamburg’s PIASTA programme. Although this programme is, in reality, targeted to the students (both local and foreign) of the university – to help students experience different cultures and have a more exciting experience, the Language Café is open for everyone. So, make sure to take advantage of the multicultural crowd these events attract to get some conversation practice for your target language.
Every week, several cafés take place, with different languages on the menu. You can choose from German, English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Chinese. Each of these free sessions is led by native speakers who will help you if you get stuck or can’t remember a word.
The Sprachcafés take place a bit outside of central Hamburg, very close to the university’s campus. The exact address of these events is Rentzelstraße 17 which is easily reached by taking the metro line 3 to Sternschanze stop – the closest stop to the Hamburg Messe und Congress complex.
Although the series of events are titled as a “café”, that refers to the informal and relaxed atmosphere, and not an actual café. You will get your language exchange in a ground floor conference room, rather than around a coffee table.
Since the events are organised by the university, they are divided into semesters, with the 2017 summer semester events starting in early April. Starting on the third week, the Language Café takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the languages divided between the three days.
If you’re learning Russian, head over to Rentzelstraße on Mondays, where the language will be practiced between 16 and 17. The next hour, until 18 is dedicated to English, and German practice starts at 18:30 and goes for another hour.
Tuesdays are dedicated to Spanish, which you can practice from 18 to 19. On Thursdays, French exchange begins at 16, and Chinese takes over from 18.
If you have already reached a level in your target language that would allow you to converse on a basic level, these events will really help you reach the next stage. Led by native speakers who will drive the conversation, Language Café offers a great way to get conversation practice.