My alarm went off much too early this morning. I scrambled out of bed, dragged myself into the shower, and finally started coming to life around 10 AM. We met downstairs in the lobby before piling (once again) into the limo-of-extreme-proportions, on our way to the Chwila Klub for the first day of the YouStars event. None of us really knew what to expect, but the club itself was really nice. It kind of gave off the vibe of an indie coffee shop, with mismatched furniture and pillows and neat art on the walls. There was also a table on the ceiling, which I didn't notice until Kate pointed it out to me.
The first hour or two was meant for hanging out and chatting, and slowly but surely we started to meet some of the people who had come from across Poland for our meetup. Of the people whose names I remember -- I met a nerdfighter and fellow NaNoWriMo winner named Nela who was lovely, another girl named Hannah who watches my videos, and a girl named Klaudia who hadn't seen my videos yet but promised she was going to look me up when she get home (she was very enthusiastic about YouTube, which was adorable). Everyone I met and talked to was so nice, and so interested in what we all do online. It was fun to talk with people from a country where YouTube is something most people don't understand (as in the general public). I think a lot of us American YouTubers spent a good portion of the day encouraging people to make videos, to vlog, and to try and convince their friends to do it with them to help them find ways to make a larger YouTube community within Poland.
After they got the livestream up and running, we jumped into our individual talks. I went second, which was kind of nice (I always like getting things that make me nervous out of the way so I can just enjoy the rest of the event). It was 15-20 minutes long; I mostly just spoke about how I fell into YouTube through Harry Potter and how I discovered the larger community of vloggers, and how that community was built on the desire to talk about mutual passions. The crazy part about the whole experience though is that we had a Polish translator up there with us. After every minute or so of talking, we'd have to pause while they repeated everything we said back in Polish for the people in the audience who couldn't understand, or who we maybe had spoken too quickly for.
Everyone did a really good job with their talks, and I even learned some stuff about some of the other American vloggers that I hadn't know before. It was such a relaxed setting for giving "presentations", and I think everyone really appreciated that. Jimmy played a little music during his talk as well, which definitely helped give the afternoon a casual, welcoming vibe.
I have to stop for a second to complain about something that's been bothering me this whole weekend -- the pillows in this hotel room are so SQUISHY. I am currently propped up on FIVE pillows and I am still sinking back into an almost lying down position. How is that even possible. I don't understand. Polish feathers must just be REALLY small, haha.
Anyway. We took a bit of a break from the YouStars event to go and have some lunch, where I ate the most delicious mushroom soup I've ever had. I'm a huge fan of mushrooms. Dan didn't want his and offered them to me, so my soup was doubly mushroom-ified. Then we head a breaded pork dish that they called a schnitzel (though I was always under the impression that schnitzels were sausages; guess you learn something new every day) with cabbage and these potato noodles that I really loved.
We went back to the "Klub" after lunch to listen to a few of the Polish YouTubers speak (though we didn't get English translations, sadly) and then our two Polish buddies who've been helping with the event (I am so terrible with name spellings here; I think it's Vlaudich and Karl?) played some music for everyone. The Polish kids were going CRAZY for them! It was amazing; I loved watching people fangirl over something in a language I can't even understand. It was such a surreal experience.
I don't remember the exact course of action for the rest of the evening, but at some point the event transitioned from speakers/live music to more of an actual club atmosphere as they got the karaoke up and running. It was at this point in the evening as well that we realized there was an open bar for us, which definitely changed the tone of the night from academic to fun-time. While we looked through the karaoke song lists, one of the Polish guys (named Lukas -- the thing about names in Poland is that many of them sound like American names, but aren't exactly - so I have no idea how to spell them. I figure if I just replace all the C's with K's, in general, I'll be okay. I actually made a comment about that last night - this is the first time in my life where the "K" spelling of my name is actually more common than the "C" spelling… maybe this is where I belong! Wow this was a long tangent. Maybe I should just start over.) (One of the Polish guys) decided we needed to try some of the local common drinks and kept bringing them over to us totally unprompted. I figured I couldn't come to Poland without trying their signature drinks though, so I obliged. Especially since one of the drinks was made with apple juice! Vodka and apple juice, none the less, but I at least FELT like I was drinking something cute.
…that might help explain how I ended up onstage with my new Polish friend Klaudia singing Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". And "Wonderwall", with the aforementioned Lukas (and a bunch of other YouTubers). And "Can't Fight the Moonlight" from Coyote Ugly, totally by myself. I'm pretty sure all of these got filmed, so for better or worse they'll most likely be going online at some point.
I had such a great time that night. I felt like I bonded a lot with the other American YouTubers, as well as making friends with a lot of the Polish people as well. I chatted for a long time with Nela (the NaNoWriMo winner). I also spent a lot of time with Klaudia, one of the girls who Meghan and I were trying to convince to start vlogging (also mentioned above - can you tell I wrote this blog post in multiple sittings?). I met a boy named Paul on the way back from the bathroom who had just watched all eight Harry Potter movies last weekend after being a "hater" for years and years who after hearing my presentation, felt I would appreciate how much he likes it now. I watched a lot of people sing incredible karaoke, in both English and Polish. I tried to sing along as Lukas interpreted a Polish love song to me in English, but only managed to catch the "Yeah yeah yeah's!". And I danced onstage to "Mambo No. 5" with the winner of the karaoke contest as well as everyone else who'd gotten onstage and "competed" as well.
When we finally boarded the crazy-town-flashing-lights-mobile to go back to the hotel, we were nearly dead on our feet. But this was the good kind of tired. The kind of tired you would not only expect, but would welcome after a day like this day. It was the kind of tired that you know will leave a permanent mark on you, for being in a new country, making new friends, experiencing new foods, traditions and ideas, and pushing yourself to new limits.
This Poland trip has been all of those things for me. I went to bed Saturday night with a smile on my face and absolutely filled to the brim with love for everyone sharing this experience with me.
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