May 21, 2016

Mish Went to BEA || A First time for everything!

Hi bookworms!!!

Guess who's back?????

I am back safe and sound from BEA, and it's time to share all the stories and pics! I am super excited, and I already miss US and all the fun!

I knew that my recap is going to be a long ass one, since I am not going to leave you all alone without explaining every single detail - #sorrynotsorry - I decided to make a series out of my recaps!

So Mish went to BEA, and let's hear about all the adventures!!!

Today's post is all going to be about my preps and my trip! Day 1's post will be up tomorrow!

P.S - In case you didn't know, I don't normally share pics of myself here or on twitter. So all the pics I share in my recaps now will be taken down in about a month or so! :)

Deciding that I am going to go to BEA 2016 was an impulse decision. One that took a long period of planning and saving, but still the initial decision was so sudden and even surprised me. I have always wanted to go to BEA - I mean, tell someone who doesn't! - and being a Sri Lankan blogger it has always been a far fetched dream for me. That's something I've always written down in my bucket list as a dream I'll achieve when I grow up, but I really didn't expect it will happen all soon.

First of all, I have to thank my parents for this entire experience. For a typical South Asian conservative parents to send their kid to US to attend a book convention is quite a big deal. When I proposed the idea of going to BEA to them last year September, they only took a few days to give me a green signal. I was obviously excited, but what I didn't know at that time, is how much sacrifices and planning they had to make in order for me to go.

Then came the whole process of planning. I saved for almost a year. I went on a huge book buying ban, saved all my pocket money, sacrificed a whole lot of shopping and got myself committed to the mission of achieving the trip of the lifetime. It didn't go all easy for sure. At first I was supposed to travel with a friend, who couldn't make it for personal reasons, which made me have to travel all alone to Chicago. Then by December, my aunt had a severe heart attack for which my parents had to offer some of my BEA savings. The worst of all would be when I was rejected for my VISA, which totally devastated me, until I tried my luck again and got it!

Certain things worked in my favour as well! I was offered the chance to speak in a panel for Blogger Con, which was a huge feat for a girl who's shit scared of speaking in public. But still, when Ashley @ Nose Graze offered me a space in the "Growing Your Social Media Presence" panel, and I shared that with my friends, they practically forced me into saying yes, them being super excited about the whole trip from the start!!!

Isn't my Speaker badge gorgeous???? *flails*

Then there was the hunt for roommates! Since I was travelling all alone, my mum's biggest dilemma was with whom I am going to stay. After a long hunt, so many drop outs and additions, I finally found the best roommates ever!!! :D I roomed with Shannon, Val, Holly, CJ, Rashika, Nori and Kalli, and it was amazing!!! I'll tell all about our adventures in my next recaps, but for now, all I have to say is that we made the best BEA squad ever, period!!!

And there was all the preps! My friends dragged me for shopping saying I need special clothes for a special week, though I was horribly mislead that it was summer in Chicago and ended up being super cold whenever we went out! :D

I read a lot of BEA tips posts in preparation! Honestly, those who take the time to write tips posts based on your experiences, you guys rock! These posts practically saved my life as I knew next to nothing about BEA or signings in general.But thanks to these posts, I knew what I was getting myself into. What to wear, what to pack, what to leave behind, what to expect - these posts taught me all, and served as my lifesavers!

My wonderful overscheduled, colour coded schedules, which my dad actually put in plastic wraps so they don't get crushed! :D People must have laughed at me when I carried these around. But they worked perfectly, as I stuck to my schedules to a T, doing everything I prioritised perfectly! I was pretty proud of my own organisational skills!

Then I went and got myself business cards! After a long debate, I decided not to go with my blog design as my card design as well, so I went for something totally different. The cards were designed by Mitchi @ Rainy Ink Studio whose gorgeous and minimalistic designs I've always adored! I totally fell in love with what she came up with for my cards! I was a bit too enthusiastic with the printing - I actually went and printed 500 - and only handed out around 50 - 70 or some.

Then all that was left to do was packing and flying. I being my paranoid self, overpacked - I practically took my entire underwear drawer - and put on my brave face and big girl shoes and set out to fly alone. I am not going to lie, the flying part was horrible. With the layover, it was a total of 21 hours of travel, and by the time I reached US, I was dead on my feet, hungry and I probably stank as well!

And then to add icing to the cake, I got lost in the airport. Now that was one epic moment. My phone didn't roam when I switched it on in the O'Hare Airport, the Wifi didn't connect for some reason, and I couldn't find a way to contact Shannon, who was supposed to pick me up at the airport! I actually wanted to cry there, and probacly looked so lost, so much so that a kind man actually offered me to buy coffee because I looked too thin and lost :D It was one crazy hour before I found Shannon finally, and at that moment I just wanted to hit the bed and sleep!

I also met Britt from Please Feed the Bookworm, as she was travelling in the same flight as Shannon, and we set out to the hotel, and just before we got on to the train, we also met up with Val. What continued was an interesting train ride, with all of us dragging our luggage while being extremely tired.

That night, I met all my roommates - it was amazing to see all my online friends in real life, especially Nori, because I didn't know what she looked like until then - and we had random convos while I was demanding for food and complaining that the room was too cold! :) We ordered Pizza, was terribly disappointed to know that the hotel only left us a cooler and not a fridge - it's one crazy, funny, long running joke, don't ask :D - and finally went to sleep somewhere around 1. So much for me thinking that I'll get some proper sleep on the first day before going for BEA the next day!

That was my view out of my room when I got there, I just fell in love with the city that day itself!

But it was also very exciting!!! It was not only my first time to BEA, but also my first time to Chicago and US, and everything was so new and exciting! I wished I stayed there for longer though, as we barely had time to explore or go shopping - the latter for which my friends still haven't forgiven me - and I hope I don't make that mistake the next time. Well I hope there's a next time, my parents have given the green signal for 2017, but anything can happen in a year, and I am having my fingers crossed that everything will go well!

That's for today's recap, I guess! Well, tbh, that was longer than I expected, and I still haven't got to the main part! :D I just have a lot of stuff to tell you guys, okay? Hopefully I haven't bored you all to tears already!

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for the recap of Day #1 of BEA!!!

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