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Since this is my first post on this blog, I figured I need to to give a little background info about myself.
Right from childhood, I always loved Engineering stuff, in fact most of my siblings do - yes, I have quite a handful of them, nice fellows they are. I once had a dream of becoming a researcher and spending my whole life in the lab. Growing up in Nigeria, people take Medicine and Law as the most prestigious courses; any other thing can only be a second option. Engineering was also popular but was not considered prestigious.
I remember my dad always wanted me to become a doctor - who knows, it might still be in his list of wants. I however chose the rough road of the Engineering discipline and landed my self a huge interest in computers.
My interest led me to taking a course in Computer science in the university. I always tell new friends that all IT guys are introverts, they just stay in front of their PC all day. It is their work, their study and their fun. Naturally, I was one of them.
I always frowned at social forums and events that had no flavour of tech in it. Always considered them a waste of time.
However, in Summer 2016, I was convinced by a friend to attend the RANEPA Summer Campus. From there, something changed. It was the first big non-IT forum I attended and was really impressed. I made a lot of new friends, met many great people - it was a big wow!
So, when I saw the adverts about WFYS 2017, I did not think twice - I wanted to be part of such a big event. Currently living in Russia, it was easier for me to attend the Event as part of the delegation from the Region I live - Tatarstan, than attending as a Nigerian delegate. I registered on the site, went to interviews and an orientation session and boom! - I was ready to go and see the exquisite landscapes of Sochi and the Black Sea!
The journey from Kazan to Sochi took 48 hours by train - yes, this is Russia baby! I did not feel the passing of time though, as we went together as a delegation of about 200 participants. We played, got to know each other, ate and played again. Having plans to travel around Russia by train? Go with a big company and thank me later
The Festival was to take place in the Sochi Olympic Park in the Adler district of the city, where the Winter Olympics of 2014 was held. Arriving at the train station, we received a warm welcome and got picked up by the volunteers - bless those guys - and taken by bus to the Park. The first day was not very eventful as the festival hadn’t officially started yet. As we were waiting to be checked into our hotel, some people used the opportunity to check out the beach side of - yeah, The Great Black Sea!
The next day was however different. During the day, we were in the Main Media Center(MMC) where most of the lectures took place. While walking to the MMC from the hotel in the morning, we got the chance to see the beautiful streets and buildings of the Olympic Park. It’s a whole city with a peculiar architecture. Each individual building had its architectural presence different from the others. From magnificent Bolshoi Ice Dome to the stylistic MMC - Everything was a great site to behold. From the Park, you could also see in the distance, the hills and valleys of the Caucasus Mountains rising to the horizon with the tops clothed in snow .
Later in the evening that day, the Opening Ceremony was held. The Ice Dome couldn’t hold all the participants, so not everyone had the opportunity to attend it - including me, unfortunately. Nevertheless, a huge and interesting concert with popular Russian bands was held at the Main Stage of the park for those who couldn’t make it, so it was not a complete miss out.
Throughout the Festival, there were lots of great lectures and the interior of the MMC was a great sight to behold. At each point in time, it held more than 10,000 people of different cultures, countries and backgrounds. But yet, you could see people intermingling with each and it seemed like they had known each other for eternity. Each country had a stand where they displayed elements of the culture and national pride. Each time you would see different crowds gathered in different corners listening, playing and dancing to different tunes of cultural music. It was an opportunity for people to showcase the beauty of their nationalities and this opportunity I must say, was nicely utilized by most.
One of the events I enjoyed most during the festival was the trip to Rosa Khutor. It is an alpine ski resort located at the Caucasus Mountains some 40 minutes ride from the Olympic Park. I went there with some friends I had met in the course of the festival as did many other participants. We were elevated to the highest part of the mountain close by - a height of 2,400 meters. You’ve got to see the place to behold the true beauty of nature. It was there I discovered a new passion that has since been hidden within me - I found out that, boy do I love heights! We spent the whole day going through the different levels of the resort and towards evening we went back to the Park.
Hey! did I say the trip to Rosa Khutor was the best event?? Ah, yes of course I said it was one of the best. I’m beginning to think all the events made it to the best category because Sochi Park definitely is in that category. Let me start by saying that I had not ridden on a Roller Coaster before then. Well, I think I actually rode on one a long time ago but you couldn’t even begin to call it a Roller coaster compared to the monsters in Sochi Park. So, having not ridden on a real Roller Coaster, I told my friend we should go to the scariest one there - The Quantum Leap Attraction! And as I got to know later, it’s one of the scariest in Russia. The queue was long and we had to wait more than two hours. Honestly, one of the guards told us we wouldn’t make it before they closed and advised we should go ride on the smaller ones, but we refused - well more like I refused because my friend had ridden on it before. I maintained it had to be that one. Yes I risked all the other attractions in the Park just to get to ride on that one! While on the queue, I met a Nigerian guy who had come to the festival from Germany. I immediately knew he was Nigerian once I heard him lamenting how he is not yet ready to die and chipped in an Igbo word to his new friend who seemingly didn’t understand. Apparently, they had ridden on another Roller coaster that was less scarier but scared him enough to not want to set foot on this one.
When it was finally our turn, we went on to ride and I can tell you - those 2 minutes felt like centuries! I can only say the Roller Coater lived up to its name. I was literally in a quantum superposition! It was so scary that I remembered all the names of my relatives and thought of the not so good things I’ve ever done. Anyway, I survived - uh! just thinking about it makes me sweat . The most important thing is that I conquered it, and you know what? after a few days I returned to ride on the rest and luckily it was my birthday. in what better way could one spend his birthday? The Phoenix was also hella scary. Those guys sure know how to name stuff. and that was on my birthday -
Sadly, everything that has a beginning also has an end. The end of the festival was marked with a grandiose Closing Ceremony much like the pening ceremony. And guess what? again I couldn’t make it to the official ceremony in the Bolshoi Ice Dome. But not to worry, we also had our own part of the ceremony again on the Main Stage, and this time the big boss came to give a closing speech. Yeah - by the big boss, I mean the lord of Kremlin himself - president Vladmir Putin.
The two days on the train while going back went faster than the first. Everyone was probably occupied by thoughts of new friends they made, new things they learnt, business ideas they got and of course the fun they had, because believe me, there was lots of it. Before we knew it, two days was behind us and we were back in good ol’ Kazan.