My first attendance saw me squeeze in a class everyday, lots of lunchtime and evening lectures, the opening, the finale - just about everything that was available. Unfortunately, I discovered this leaves little time for viewing the exhibitions, sightseeing or shopping the merchants mall.
|All the tutors being introduced on Opening Night. What a selection!|
|That's me joining in Brenda Gael Smith's floor talk about the Living Colour! exhibition. Thanks to Brenda for inviting me and for the picture.|
Attending four symposiums doesn't quite make me an expert (they've been running in NZ since 1984, so I'm sure there are people who have attended plenty more) but it has given me some insight, and so I thought I'd write down some of my 'top tips'. At the very least, I can use them to remind myself before I attend the next one in Christchurch, October 2017.
|The raffle quilt, a group quilt, quilted by Paula Shailer. Unfortunately I didn't win it!|
- Register early. If you think you may like to attend the next one, go ahead and register now. The earlier you register, the lower your registration number and the more likely you are to get your choice of classes. And attending a class that you really wanted to makes the whole thing more fun.
- Plan carefully and leave a day or two free in your schedule. If you completely fill up your time with classes there is no time to see exhibitions, go shopping or even just wiggle room to have an afternoon hiding in your room if you get overwhelmed. And the more classes you take, the more and varied your luggage will be. Think about whether you're a night owl and will enjoy evening lectures or whether you need those evenings to recover and stick to lunchtime lectures.
- Write down your schedule and use those blank spaces from your planning to pencil in the things you want to see and do so that you don't miss out.
- Go for wheels. Find yourself some sort of wheeled trolley or suitcase to transport your class needs. Your arms and shoulders will thank you.
- Be prepared. Comfy shoes, band aids, headache tablets, water bottle, ear plugs and glasses. Five days is a long time and you'll want to be in good shape to make the most of it.
- Everything is better with a friend. If you can find a friend to go with you then do it and enjoy the symposium together. If not - exercise your social skills. Introduce yourself to people, get talking to your neighbour in the coffee queue, make new contacts because the chances are you'll see them again and again. I got talking to a group at the exhibition at my second symposium. They realised I was there on my own so they sort of adopted me . I went to lunch with them once and now I spend time with them at every symposium. New friends!
- Accommodation. Book it early and go for close proximity. Use google maps or something similar to figure distance. And consider what facilities you really need. You won't be spending hours in your room so it doesn't need to be luxurious. But you will probably be too busy and/or pooped to want to go out and eat every night - so some basic cooking facilities are handy.
- Consider being a volunteer. The whole thing is run by volunteers who have put hours and hours into making it a success. So be kind to the organisers, and consider lightening their load by offering to help as a class angel, an exhibition white glove lady or any other position they are asking for help with. It's another opportunity to meet people and learn something new.
- Above all else, enjoy yourself! You're there to have fun!
I'm still buzzing with all the ideas and inspiration I gained from attending symposium. If you've never been, you don't know what you're missing, so go ahead and register for Christchurch! And I hope some of these tips will help you get the most out of your experience.