For the past few days I've been at Drupalcon Amsterdam. I cycled here from the UK, with the rest of the Tour de Drupal team, and together we clocked up over 8000km! Since arriving, I've been at official sessions and "unconference" BoFs (my own and other people's), and done my first bit of room-monitor volunteering, and even practiced to be a sprint mentor at the code sprints tomorrow.
This is my first Drupalcon as myself, as a freelancer, and I must say it feels even nicer than the ones I've been to in the past. Because I'm only responsible for myself now, I can happily not go to any session if I don't want to. Obviously I have done, and I've taken copious notes: but still, the freedom to be able to spend time on happenstance conversations, without feeling like I owe it to the team back home to move on to the next opportunity to report back on when I return, has arguably meant I've learnt and achieved more, not less.
As Drupalcons get bigger—this one had around 2300 attendees—it can become harder to get to know new people (new to yourself anyway), so it becomes all the more important to let chance encounters play their part. That's probably why, despite its size and despite the number of strangers I met (and made friends with), it felt like a small and welcoming village rather than a big tech conference. It reminds me of exactly why, though local camps and user groups are all amazing in their own right, there's nothing quite like a Drupalcon.
Tomorrow I'm helping with the sprints, and on Saturday a handful of remaining Tour de Drupal head back the way we came, to the ferry and home. But though my heart gets heavy at the thought that it's all coming to an end, there's always next year. See you soon, Drupalcon Barcelona 2015!