EDIT: I started this post soon after returning from Akademy, but never really finished it. So I'm publishing it as I wrote it back then, but I'll keep updating it.
Thanks to KDE e.V., I got a chance to attend Akademy 2012 at Tallinn, Estonia! :) This post is going to be filled with personal experiences so read it when you find it hard to fall asleep. It was an exhilarating experience meeting the wonderful KDE community for the first time IRL. Also, since this was the first time I would be traveling anywhere outside my country, the trip was bound to be special. (Skip stuff but do check out the gallery at the end!)
29th June 2012
I started my journey by meeting Rohan (shadeslayer), Shantanu (Shaan7), Sinny (ksinny), Shreya (shreya), Yash (yashshah) and Smit (smitmeh). I had met Shreya at LeThAc but the only interaction with everyone else I ever had was through my IRC bouncer. We all got seats near each other (Thank You Rohan's dad!:) ) and we let the whole aircraft enjoy our hearty conversations. I would see new faces for the next 9 days. And because I have the memory-span of a goldfish so I knew... And because I have the memory-span of a goldfish so I knew I would have a difficult time keeping track of people I meet. As I was among the few 'new guys', it was important for me to remember people. But I instantly knew I would have a good time with everyone I had met. The competition from Shantanu in PJs was, and will always be, appreciated. Also, I noted it was easier for me to address most people using their IRC nicks. ;) Met a lot of other members of the KDE community (of which I initially recognized none) at the Helsinki airport. I remember faces but as far as names are concerned, I can recall Runa, Aaron and Yue. The propeller powered flight to Tallinn was a noisy experience, but fun nevertheless! We (Me, Shantanu, Shreya, Sinny) stayed at Academic Hostel initially, then shifted to Teko Hostel for three days and spent the last day at Go Shnelli Hotel. With excellent public transport, getting around the city was quite convenient (except when we had to travel with our luggage).
Pre Registration Event
To join a community where everyone seemed to know everyone can be quite intimidating. Everywhere we went, people were greeted with bear hugs and high fives. Met more people from the Indian community (Pradeepto, Vishesh, Nikhil). Things got more interesting with the arrival of my mentors Akarsh (kstar) and Rafal (rkulaga). With so many conversions from nicks to humans, I half expected CIA-39 and CIA-114 to turn up ;)
The sessions were awesome. Some of the slides still stuck in my head. I would always get stuck between the two tracks though. Wanted to attend everything! Two eventful things happened on the first day. I gave my lightning talk (which didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped for, but was fun nevertheless). Secondly, I was a session chair for 2 hours (in 3 sessions). I was probably the most awkward session chair in Akademy's history. I still do a reflexive facepalm if anyone mentions that. On the positive side, now I know everything I should have done and would do a better job if I'm a session chair anywhere else.
I wish I could have attended every BoF there was. Specially Qt Quick ;) But the ones I did were a very unique experience. I only participated (a bit) in the discussions at the Plasma Active and KDE Edu BoFs though. I wasn't familiar enough with a lot of topics and was in reception mode throughout all the BoFs. I couldn't contribute to the conversation so it's always better to shut up and learn as much as you can.
Random Memorable Stuff That Happened
- I went to the wrong bus stop and proceeded to get separated from everyone on the way to Viru Keskus. I ended up charging my laptop and cellphone in a coffee shop (both were out of juice) and looked up to see everyone walk past me. It was a good adventure though.
- The pepper spray incident.
- The Indian Restaurant Incident. Had good food and a conversation in Hindi.
- Spending time with k-c folk
- My review on the day of the first BoF
- Karoake (Or as I refer to it, The Wailing Kid Incident). Thanks to Akarsh and Vishesh for the co-op mode.
- Eating weird meats at Olde Hansa.
- Pizza (twice) at that Italian place near Olde Hansa.
- Souvenir shopping and a did-not-go-as-expected trip to a Russian market(?)
- Staying in 2 hostels and a hotel. Nothing was as fun as our stay in Academic Hostel, though. Teko was nice but I missed the fun I had at Academic. (Including a very amusing discussion about Katrina, not the actress by the way)
- The Beach.
- Using KStars to do some star gazing on the way back home.
My journey was less about places. More about people. And I loved it. I made amazing friends, met people I had only read about, witnessed how a community comes together and makes everyone feel at home. Loved everything about Akademy! :)
 Yes, I know the 3 second goldfish memory-span is a myth