February 4, 2020 I Finally Traveled Abroad: TCO has Brought my Dreams to Life – Topcoder Nation EP. 12

My Journey to TCO 

I had been anticipating attending TCO19 for one and a half years, approximately. In my dreams I used to see myself participating in that event someday, when I would be capable enough (it’s 100% the truth). I learned many things during that period of competition about how one has to work hard, be smart and manage time, not only to be at TCO, but also through life. “Great achievement comes through great sacrifice,” and this was true for me. Sacrifice can be in many forms and for me it was related to my college education. I left my seventh semester final exams for competing and learning. Yes you read that correctly! I literally did that and even bunked so many classes (in which I was not interested) and devoted most of my time to learning what I love, because it would lead to my future. I don’t recommend this to any students or new members. For me it was more of a calculated risk and I knew I could handle that situation later and I also had some faith in myself. So, I just proceeded and kept learning and competing. I failed 100+ challenges but learned from all my mistakes. I’m so grateful and lucky to have this superb community which helped me in my journey to TCO. To win I learned that “the harder you work, the luckier you get” so keep going.

My First TCO Experience

TCO19 was a very dynamic, thrilling, and emotional moment full of energy; I really enjoyed it a lot. TCO brought my dreams to life. I’m sure all of us had childhood dreams of being in places we see in movies, or somewhere else someday, and so did I. That was TCO for me. The most important thing was to be there because of my own capability and not on my parents expense. Being independent –  this is what Topcoder gave me. At TCO I loved meeting all of the veterans and many copilots who I’d been working with; I’d been waiting for this moment for so long. I also had a small dining conversation with awesome employees and staff and loved hearing about their experience of TCO. It was such a great and unforgettable time with so many first experiences, like taking a flight, coming abroad, trying new food and even using a fork and knife 😛 and many others but I’ll not bore you with that 😀

Meet the great Tong and Yoki sir

Our Post TCO Trip

This was the time when the ground adventure started for me, lol. I had zero experience travelling like this before. We planned to visit so many great destinations starting from none other than Houston TX, where we visited NASA and other fun places. Next we visited Las Vegas and went to the famous Vegas sign to click some memorable pics. After that we had our lunch (my favourite Indian dishes) and from there went on a long drive of 10-12 hours to the Grand Canyon. That was such an awesome driving experience with Luis and crew.  😀 We had a weird, entertaining conversation throughout the road journey asking each other’s thoughts on some random but fun questions. The day after we arrived we went to Antelope Canyon in the morning and then to Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. Wow! That scenic view was breathtaking, it was such a peaceful place. You can see them both below in the pic I’ve shared – such a beauty of nature. I was wondering how such rock formations could be made by nature.

Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona

The trip was already so exciting for me and then we continued our journey to LA. Again it was a 12 hour adventure in our minibus, yay! We stopped at Flagstaff where I saw snow for the first time (if ice from the refrigerator doesn’t count). I was so happy to see the snow. At the very moment I was realizing that this was not a dream, a snowball came flying directly into my face, (thank you DaraK, haha). Then we all got out of the minibus and began our snow fight. I’m sure no one can resist that. We played for like 5-10 min until the hotel staff came out to stop us. Some of us (including me) were so shameless we still didn’t stop, lol.

Snow, snow & only snow everywhere

The next day we continued our drive to the famous city of Hollywood, Los Angeles. We had a week there to stay together, laugh together, sing together and dance together. During that visit in LA, we went to Santa Monica, amusement parks, huge malls, Griffith Park (a museum near the Hollywood sign), and downtown LA. We also had a volleyball game near the beach and roamed the streets of Hollywood. During our stay we cooked for ourselves and spent quality time learning about each other. Those days passed like the blink of an eye.

Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles

Now was time to visit our group’s last destination: America’s finest city with miles of sand beaches located on the coast of Pacific Ocean in Southern California: San Diego. The city has such amazing weather throughout our stay. The day after we arrived, we explored some shopping malls then went to Tijuana, Mexico for dinner by crossing the U.S. border. We came back in the morning after hanging out at clubs in Mexico. I got some Pesos for souvenirs 🙂

The next day we went to Balboa Park where Nick joined us with his lovely wife. We explored the entire park, saw many great live performances and attended a short rehearsal concert of one of America’s biggest mounted music organs (Spreckels Organ Pavilion). After that we went to Little Italy near the coast. The weather and views were so amazing, similar to what you see in movies. We were talking and watching a group of children and professionals dance to Christmas music and shoot a video for social media. They called us to join them, I was like, what?! No Way!!! Haha (I was talking to myself – they didn’t know if I danced it would literally ruin their shoot, I don’t even know the ABCs of dance, lol). Soon Luis and Viki (with her daughter) joined them and I was so happy I didn’t have to go and dance since I’m so bad at it. But after five minutes one of the professional dancers called me to join. I was scared but I didn’t want to make her feel bad so I joined her with a disclaimer 😀 (that I haven’t danced before). She said it’s okay. Then we started dancing and I was doing my own signature dance move (I was inventing it for the first time 😀 ). I’m pretty sure I spoiled their video, hahaha.

Balboa Park, San Diego
Near Little Italy, San Diego

After that weird dance performance we went to Sunset Cliff Natural Park which is famous for its sunset views, and damn that blue ocean was stunning. The same night we went to Nick’s Karaoke club to test our singing abilities and had a pool game. To be honest it was the best club for me.

A view from Sunset Cliff, San Diego

Finally the day came when we all had to go back on our own path and move on 🙁  This was when I realised that we built such strong connections with each other like we have with our family, that is why my fellow travelers became a new family for me.  🙂 All that time hanging out, partying, enjoying, etc., I want to experience that again. So now I have one more reason to qualify for next TCO so I can meet the Topcoder Nation Family again.

After that I continued my solo trip to San Francisco then New York. I visited all the famous locations that I had wanted to visit since my childhood. I had dreams to go there someday, and I did it – on my own expenses.

Pier 7, San Francisco

My Golden Gate Bridge,SF and Statue of Liberty,NYC visit.

The TCO brought my dreams to life, which was a fruitful and a memorable first experience for me. I can’t wait to be there again. Thanks to all of you who made that event possible.


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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