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This year’s WordCamp Europe was held in Torino, Italy, the capital city of the Piedmont region in northern Italy. Torino is known for its rich automotive history, beautiful architecture, and, of course, incredible food.

From June 13-15, 2024, over 2,500 folks from the WordPress community, including many of us from the WordPress.com team, came together to learn, connect, and give back to the WordPress project that powers over 43% of the entire internet.

I joined the WordPress.com team back in January of this year, so WordCamp Europe 2024 was my first WordCamp experience. In today’s post, I thought it might be interesting to hear about the conference from a first-timer, especially if you’re considering attending a WordCamp or WordPress meetup in the future. 

Here are my top five takeaways from my very first WordCamp:

1. In-person connection is powerful.

If your typical workday looks similar to mine––sitting at a desk at your house all day by yourself––going to a conference as large as WordCamp Europe may be a wee bit out of your comfort zone. It certainly was out of mine.

That said, I’ve recently found myself craving in-person connection after the pandemic and working almost exclusively from home for over eight years. Not only did attending this conference just get me out of my normal routine, it allowed me to connect with folks who love the tool I’ve used personally and professionally for over a decade: WordPress.

folks talking around a stand at the WordPress.com booth at WordCamp Europe 2024 with blue and green walls and the WordPress logo

I staffed the WordPress.com booth, so I had a ton of opportunities to chat with other business owners, developers, creators, and makers over the course of the conference. I actually talked with a few fellow self-taught women developers like me, and I walked away feeling inspired, motivated, and just really thankful to be a part of this community.

But the best conversations happened in places I wouldn’t have expected: over spritzes, grabbing a cafe at the venue, or just walking around the city.

Embracing connection was a big focus of Matt’s final keynote speech during the event, and I couldn’t agree more. Events like WordCamps allow for swapping ideas, collaborating and troubleshooting, and experiencing a sense of community that you just don’t get while sitting behind a computer. 

That said, if large-scale conferences like a flagship WordCamp just aren’t for you, try checking out a local WordPress meetup to connect with other like-minded folks in your community.

2. It takes a ton of people to make WordCamps great.

One of the most moving parts of WordCamp Europe was at the very end when all of the volunteers and organizers were called to the stage; it’s truly amazing just how many people need to be involved to make an event like WordCamp actually happen.

People in black tshirts on a stage with a blue background and other people sitting in chairs facing the stage
Screenshot from the WordCamp Europe 2024 livestream on YouTube

Everything was smooth and well-organized, and the volunteers and organizers could not have been more helpful. Their enthusiasm about the event, WordPress, and community in general throughout the conference was infectious.

WordCamps and local WordPress meetups are always looking for volunteers; donating your time and expertise for events and meetups like this are a great way to give back to the WordPress project and community.

And if you’re an organizer of your local WordPress meetup, check out this post for information on how you can get a free WordPress.com website for your local meetup.

3. Contributor Day isn’t intimidating for a first-timer.

I’ve never contributed to WordPress core, but it was one of my goals for this year. That’s why I was so excited to participate in Contributor Day at WordCamp Europe.

If you’re unfamiliar with Contributor Day, it’s an event that usually kicks off a WordCamp. Teams focus on contributing to the WordPress open source project, with groups focused on code, support, translations, sustainability, inclusion, and more.

After listening to all of the team presentations, I decided to join the Accessibility team. Accessibility is something that has always interested me, but it’s also something I don’t have a ton of experience with.

That said, my inexperience wasn’t just accepted, it was actively welcomed.

people sitting around circular tables and #wceu on a wall

Once I got to the Accessibility team table, I was immediately greeted and welcomed. Then I paired with a fellow contributor, Marco Acato from Acato Digital Agency, to test the accessibility of a new theme for the WordPress theme repository.

I learned so much, asked a ton of questions, and felt surprisingly accomplished after just a few hours of testing this theme. We were actually able to publish feedback for the theme developer at the end of the day as well. 

Contributor Day gave me an even deeper appreciation for the entire community that supports the WordPress project every single day. So much work and effort goes into maintaining and improving this tool that millions of websites across the world rely on to run their businesses, amplify their messages, and stay in touch with others. I felt so grateful to have been a part of it during Contributor Day and would encourage any other first-timers to attend a Contributor Day in the future as well.

Luckily, WordPress core is always looking for volunteers and contributors; check out this guide or the new Contributor Mentorship Program if you’re interested in becoming a contributor yourself.

4. Torino was a great host city, and the WordCamp team made navigating a new city easy.

Between attending Contributor Day and sessions, to checking out sponsor booths and attending side events, I didn’t think we’d have a ton of time to actually see the city or Torino.

I actually had plenty of time to explore with my coworkers, eat pizza every single day, and scope out the best gelato spots outside of conference hours. 

a gelato cup filled with two different colors of gelato with a spoon sticking out of it

The WordCamp Europe team did a great job preparing attendees to make the most of our time in the city as well; their travel guides helped me feel confident navigating the city and finding some of the foods that come from this area in Italy.

As a first-timer in Torino, I really appreciated the extra work that the WordCamp team did to ensure everyone had a chance to explore and experience the city.

5. Pizza really is poetry.

I would be remiss to not mention the food that we ate during our time in our host city! While we like to say that “Code is poetry” around here, so is pizza. 

One of my very favorite memories from the event was the branding. The design team for WordCamp Europe 2024 added subtle nods to our host country throughout the venue, which was incredibly clever and well-done.

a sign that says 'Code is Poetry (...but so is pizza)' and #wceu

And while pizza is indeed poetry, it’s even better when shared amongst coworkers, friends, and people who get excited about the same things that excite you.

five people sitting at a table with three large pizzas on top

Wrapping up

I loved my time at WordCamp Europe, and I’m already looking forward to the next time I can connect face-to-face with the WordPress community. 

Were you at WordCamp Europe this year? Leave a comment with your favorite memory from the event below.

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