When I started contributing to GNOME, I never thought one day I would travel to Greece to present my work. Travelling to Europe has always been my dream, so when I received sponsorship email from GNOME travel committee, I was very excited. Being a student, it would have been impossible for me to attend GUADEC without sponsorship. Now after a month of planning, reading about Greece and watching past GUADEC videos, finally 22nd August, 2019 had come.
So I had early morning flight from Hyderabad ( my home town ) to Abu Dhabi and then Abu Dhabi to Athens after a layover of 2 hours. I had gone out of India only once before this trip, and never went to Europe before this.
So when we landed at Athens airport, I was very excited for the week to come. I guess one great thing about GUADEC is, they choose amazing locations and since GUADEC runs for 6 days, you’ve great amount of time to get quite familiar with the city. So from here we had one more domestic flight to Thessaloniki. Once we reached Thessaloniki, we met Kat and some other people on the bus. With their help, we reached Stay Hybrid Hostel. Stay hybrid hostel was the official place of accommodation for GUADEC attendees, and it was very nice, like it was in much better condition than the hostels I see in my home town. I really enjoyed my stay here. There was an informal meet at a nice and cozy place on 22nd night , we got a little late but we finally made it. Finally I got to meet Jean, Felipe and many other people. In the days to come, everyday I was interacting with new people. I realised I’ve so much more to learn and so many things I can explore.
On 23rd August, GUADEC 2019 finally started. On first day itself, we had our lightning talks. I didn’t get much time to work on my presentation before, so I sat with Jean and he gave some suggestions, and then at 4 PM, we had our talks. Since this was just a short talk about the work I really enjoyed, I wasn’t very nervous. But it was very nice to present my work in front of so many people, many of whom have done great contributions in the open source community. After the talk, many people came to us and asked more about projects. Those coffee breaks and trivia contest were really good way to meet new people!
In the beginning, I faced few challenges like none of my devices were getting connected to internet, electrical plugs here were different from India, food was very different from Indian food. But I guess facing these challenges is a part of the travel, and it’s all worth it. GUADEC organisers and volunteers were very helpful, we all can’t thank them enough for all the things they’ve done.
First three days were quite hectic, as we were jumping from one talk to another, and because of meal/coffee breaks timings, days were pretty structured. In the hacking days, I discussed some challenges in tracker writeback part of my project with Jean and Sam. Jean also reviewed Tag Editor, I realised there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Hacking days were quite chill compared to talk days. I really enjoyed all the social events also. Picnic spot was really awesome, it was like doing picnic on a hill inside a jungle. I liked the food also there, I had good discussion about corporate jobs vs open source development with Umang and Sri. There’s so many different career paths I can take, I can go into corporate, I can do Masters or research, I can continue working for open source organisations, so many decisions to make!
GUADEC days were not all about events organised by GUADEC, I also did lots of sightseeing. The shore side walk from port to White tower was really nice. I also went inside White tower, it was all greek to me, literally, since all the information was in Greek only! But I really enjoyed the view on top of white tower. The location of Stay Hybrid hostel was really amazing, as it was surrounded by many food and market places. The path from Stay Hybrid hostel to University of Macedonia had so many nice spots. Every day I would take a different path and explore the city, many times I stopped at the historical places or churches. I visited so many places like Agia Sophia, KTE tower, museums, etc. I hadn’t done RSVP to the last day beach trip, so I missed that, but instead I went to Athens and visited Acropolis. Overall this trip was really amazing! I really hope to attend more events and conferences like this, there’s so much you learn and enjoy!