10 Things to Know Before You Go to International Convention

April 25, 2022
Ruthie Zeidman

Portland, Oregon, United States

Class of 2023

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BBYO’s International Convention is the highlight of every year, as thousands of teens from over 40 countries come together to celebrate siblinghood, Judaism, and much more. IC 2022 was in Baltimore, Maryland over President’s Day weekend and it was truly a life-changing experience. To ensure that you have the best experience possible, read below for my top ten tips for having the best weekend ever.

1. Prepare early

It’s always a good idea to set your travel plans to IC as early as possible. This will take the stress off of you and your family. Also, make sure to have a backup plan as the weather can be unpredictable. As far as packing, I know lots of you love to save it until the last moment. With school, extra-curricular, and all that comes with the week leading up to IC, I suggest packing early. 

2. Don’t overpack

Do not go crazy and overpack. I promise you need less than you think. You’re going to need room in your bag to pack your new merch from shuk and it’s an overall pain to have a lot of stuff. Trust your instincts and if you have to sit on your suitcase to make it close, you’ve probably brought too much. Not sure what to bring? Text older members in your chapter, check the official IC packing list, or ask a staff member. (My personal packing suggestion: bring a tote/small bag to carry essentials in).

3. Keep an open mind

IC is one of the most incredible things you will participate in during your time in BBYO, but it’s also what you make of it. Keep an open mind when experiencing new things, meeting people from all over the country and the world, really all weekend: it’ll make your experience so much better. Try out programs that you wouldn’t usually go to and explore every opportunity offered to you. 

4. Find a buddy

There are a lot of people at IC and there’s always a lot going on. If this is your first IC, this step is important. Text a friend before going and make a plan for how you two can connect through the chaos. This person should be a shoulder to lean on and feel free to spend time with them, but make sure you’re also connecting with other people. IC is going to be overwhelming sometimes, so having a buddy that you can talk to and connect with is super helpful.

5. Be patient

At IC 2022 there were over 2,000 teens which means there were a lot of lines, and I mean A LOT. Be patient with the people around you and the staff members. No one likes to wait, especially not hungry teenagers. Use your waiting time to talk to your friends or get to know the people around you, which leads me to my next point… 

6. Introduce yourself

Take every single opportunity you get to introduce yourself to the people around you. It will make your experience so much better and it’s an important skill to have in life. Some great places to do this are when you’re waiting in line for the elevator, or are on a bus heading to your sightseeing destination. I met some incredible people just because I turned around and introduced myself. It sounds scary but really all you need is your name, region, and grade. One of my favorite memories from IC was going around with my friend and introducing ourselves to random people. We were very nervous and giggly the whole time, but we ended up meeting people from all over the country and the world. 

7. Don’t let your insecurities control your experience

It’s always hard to let go of insecurities, especially when you’re meeting new people every day. Despite that, try to let your anxieties go and have fun, be silly, and enjoy your time at IC. It’s important to remember that everyone is way too focused on themselves and how other people see them to think about whatever you’re doing. Chances are the people around you are feeling the exact same way you are. It’s also completely normal to have an embarrassing experience, and if you do, accept it and move on. 

8. Enjoy your experience, but don’t worry about being happy every moment

Some things just aren’t for everyone and that’s OK. There are points at IC where you might feel nervous, bored, or frustrated and that’s totally normal. Don’t stress yourself out by worrying about having fun all day, every day. If you’re feeling down, take time for yourself and do something that makes you feel good. Self-care is never a waste of time.

9. Live in the moment

IC is way too short, so savor your experience! Living in the moment also means putting your phone away, and I highly suggest you try to disconnect as much as possible. Of course, you should take it out to take photos or text your friends to find them, but work to put your device away during programs, especially Opening Ceremonies. Don’t live through your phone screen, live in the moment! Acknowledge how incredible this experience is and appreciate how thousands of Jewish teens have come together (that’s pretty cool!). Also, you’re meeting friends from all over the country and the world, so it’s likely pretty hard to visit them on a daily basis. Enjoy your time with them and let them know what they mean to you. Don’t forget to keep in touch!

10. HAVE FUN!

Do I even need to explain? 

I hope this list helps you to feel more prepared for all the ICs to come! 

Ruthie Zeidman is a BBG from Evergreen Region, and her passions include inclusivity, Judaism, writing, volunteering, listening to music, and laughing (and BBYO of course).

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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