January 15, 2020 Hear It From Them: What Members Do After TCO Is Over – Topcoder Nation Ep. 11

[SPOILER ALERT] Travel… and work.

There are several things a Topcoder finalist could do after the Topcoder Open is over, such as eat a burrito, dance in the rain or work on challenges. It’s quite normal to see people go back home, or see folks travel around the US during the Topcoder Open dates, either in groups or alone.

TCO is over, burrito time.
source: giphy

I mentioned in the first episode of Topcoder Nation how Topcoder is this glue that binds together like-minded people who share a passion and enthusiasm for solving problems through computer science and design. It turns out that a Topcoder Open is the event where members have the chance to meet, interact and make connections. One of the outcomes of this meaningful geek hangout is traveling for a long time in fun multicultural groups. Members normally plan trips in the United States around these days, with the goal of either relaxing, getting to know someplace new, hanging out or checking off bucket list dreams.


That’s it! A mix of Topcoder folks from Romania, Hungary, India, United States and Venezuela, meaning Europe, Asia and America, got together again to travel again in the US. The crew on this opportunity, Sandeep, Surya, Daniela, Viki (with her daughter!), Nick, Ravi and your humble servant behind these lines, gathered some courage to share shelter and experiences in Houston, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana (Mexico), and San Francisco. 

As a personal note, one of the things I like most about these trips is the knowledge I can get from my partners, the kind that can only be gained through experience. No book has ever taught me that I should never greet an Indian with my left hand, that I should never hug a Japanese in my first nor last encounter, that I should never arrive late to a dinner appointment with an European.

Let me try to explain this with a simple analogy. Imagine we bake a cake over 23 days made with Indian spices, American gluten-loaded wheat flour and European cream. With temperatures that go from -2 °C (28 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F), through different ovens in different times. It would produce a multicultural flavored piece of cake that has lots of knowledge, customs, first time experiences, incredible memories, meaning connections and love. I confess that I envy, value and admire any person who can eat a little slice of this cake, making her a rich person, a type of richness money can not buy.


I know we are not the only folks who came up with this idea of traveling. It’s been in our genes for thousands of years, in different forms of travel, but the point is, we are genetically wired to keep moving. In Topcoder, we can embrace the opportunity of traveling around while working, another form of travel. 

✈️ Topcoder International Airport

Other than this particular trip being mentioned here, there are other members who also benefit from traveling around the Topcoder Open dates. Let’s learn from them what they liked the most.

TCO19 Design Finalist

This is extracted from our Topcoder Nation group in Facebook, actually, a huge motivation to write this article (thanks Surya).

Topcoder is now an integral part of my life, I can’t really describe it with words. Topcoder has helped me achieve my dreams which I don’t think would be possible anywhere else. The love and support I’ve received with this platform are tremendous. I would like to give a shoutout to all of those who helped & inspired me and are now part of my family mahestro, DaraK, iamtong, ravijune, yoki, gh3ablo, hmetha, PereViki, teevics, hi4sandy – I love you guys and have huge respect for all of you.

The TCO19 trip experience were some of the best days (apparently a month) of my life with so many first exciting experiences like traveling in flight, coming to a foreign country and visiting places/cities which are famous all around the world.

There are so many best moments of our post-TCO trip that I’d like to share:

  • The best moment starts from our car driving trip (Las Vegas – Grand Canyon – Los Angeles) in which Luis was the Captain. And we talked about so much weird and fun stuff throughout the ride.
  • The snow fight we had when we reached Flagstaff was super cool. I still laugh when I remember the face Ravi bro made when I hit him twice right at the center of his face, hahaha sorry Ravi bro
  • Visiting LA and Hollywood.
  • Our super weird and random dance with the Christmas themed performing group in San Diego. And nickcastillo’s Karaoke Club was the best club for me to be honest.
  • Visiting Nick’s house, I got the new experience of living in a typical American house which was lovely
  • And last but not least, undoubtedly the quality time we spent enjoying, partying, playing together. Understanding each other so deep in that short amount of time made for a seamless connection (I felt that most when we were leaving back for our home).

Topcoder Developer & Copilot

After TCO, I went to Cary, North Carolina to spend some time with my uncle’s family. I visited a few places around the area and did some sightseeing, did some shopping for myself and relatives back home, made the pilgrimage to a few of the major American food joints like Chipotle, California Pizza Kitchen and a couple of local coffee shops.

In general, I love North Carolina! The combination of a low population along with relatively new roads and buildings all around, as well as the natural beauty of the place is something unique. I love being there.

Although there are a lot of good things that I could point out about what I liked the most, in my opinion, having a leisurely time with close relatives followed by an unplanned trip to some beautiful place or experience that they think you might enjoy, is something money can’t buy. So I really cherish and feel thankful for those experiences.

The funniest was me taking an interview of my 8 year old cousin about Minecraft and his school life, and realising that the video wasn’t being recorded. To get it recorded, we did the whole interview once again from memory as if reading a script, and it was hilarious. Thankfully this time, the video was recorded and it’s one of the funniest family videos one can watch.

I also spent a good amount of time at TCO working on the Shell GameChanger submission. In addition, I was also copiloting a challenge during the trip.

TCO19 Design Finalist

During TCO19 I stayed around Houston most of the time, but in TCO18 I went to San Francisco as my destination. Of course I went by flight to save time. I chose this location because I love California ❤️more than any other state, especially because you can find history, landscape, landmarks, shopping, everything in one place called San Francisco. Especially when it’s black friday! In my country, Indonesia, the sale never feels so crazy like this. For example you can get 50% off all items in my one of my favorite shoes store. Very good deals. I love the feeling every time I travel abroad, I find something different to learn. 

Topcoder MVP & Copilot

After Houston I went to southern California: Los Angeles, San Diego, and some small towns in-between. I have old family friends living near LA, also I  had not been there for a while, and definitely had not seen everything the area has to offer. Thus, the choice was easy. The previous TCO was near Dallas, thus I already had been to Texas, and visited Houston last year. Two TCOs before that I had been on the East Coast, and I went to cities there including New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and some other areas.

I liked pretty much everything. Visiting friends, watching the sunset from Griffith observatory, experiencing Universal Studios theme park, and just enjoying the local way of life, it all was excellent and exciting.

The most remarkable part was living a week at the friends’ yacht, anchored in the downtown area of San Diego.

This time I didn’t work while traveling. I learned a lesson from the past TCOs, when I indeed combined some copiloting and even competing with travelling around TCO.  This year I did my best to finalize any urgent projects by the time of the TCO trip.

Topcoder Copilot

After TCO I went to Cuba (Havana and Varadero) and then back to the states to visit Los Angeles and San Francisco. After that I took another long flight to Honolulu, Hawaii. Once I was done in the USA I visited Japan, South Korea and Turkey, to finally go back home to Sarajevo. There was no master plan behind picking the locations – I was traveling with a friend (hopefully a future active Topcoder member) and since we were going to Houston and continuing to travel the idea was to pick a path to get home the other way around and choose a few places to visit. Conclusion: I need to do this again.

It would be tough to mention a favorite place so far. Hawaii is beautiful, Cuba is fun, Japan is different to me. Scuba diving with sharks in Hawaii is definitely a great experience. The sea life  is amazing with sharks, turtles, and many others that I have no idea how to name properly.

TCO19 Design Finalist

During the last TCO I didn’t travel outside the host city as I did in previous years. This time we stayed in the Houston Area. I liked catching up with Topcoder members, and my friends who live there. I was amazed by the Asian community in Houston, I have never seen such huge Asian towns (China town, Korean town, etc) in any of my travels. There seems to be endless Asian shops and restaurants along a very long strip of road. During the trip I worked on small tasks, and a few challenges after TCO.

Peace out folks!


Are you living the gig economy lifestyle at Topcoder? Want to join fellow members? Share your story, your travels, and experiences about the ultimate goal of working at Topcoder; the freedom, the flexibility, and the earnings that make it happen! Join Topcoder Nation.

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