With the start of Google Code In this Tuesday, we wanted to share the experience of Chirag Gupta, one of our Mifos community members and GCI participants who went on the trip to Google headquarters in San Francisco after being selected as one of the winners of last year’s Google Code In. Read his incredible story below:

My Google Trip Blog

The Flight

The Beginning

I boarded flight from Jaipur on 24th June and that was my first time when I was traveling through a flight (yes, I am not joking). I landed in San Francisco on 25th in the morning (Singapore Airlines was awesome in very aspect) and Ed Cable and Sanyam Goel (my mentors) were there to pick me.

Then we headed to our first destination, LinkedIn HQ (This was not part of our official Google trip, Ed had some contacts there (pros of being a Wharton graduate 😉 )) and I must say that the food they provide to their employees is impeccable (especially Indian Veg, it is even better than Google one).

Next up, we had Facebook HQ (Ed to the rescue again :D), the host there (Ashwin Poojary) was a very nice guy and gave the ‘real’ office tour where employees were actually working. We did some chit-chat on how Facebook’s Data Centres look like and how they work. It was again a fancy office and it seemed like I was walking on a street and there were shops where I could go and ask anything for free except few ones! This thing really fascinates you to work in a big tech giant.

We then rushed to the hotel (Hyatt Regency) where we were already late, we quickly checked-in, again rushed to the hotel lobby (Thanks to the hotel staff that they gave us room so far away from the lift (Sarcasm Intended)) but we were late! So we (Ed, Sanyam, Me and my brother, Hemant) walked to the Google Office (San francisco one) ourselves and reached there earlier than the whole Winners and mentors group (feeling athletic).

Winsome Lobby of the Hotel

We were then officially welcomed by the Stephanie (GCI Program Manager). I was sleeping throughout her talk but when Mary (another GCI Program Manager) announced “Now you could go and grab your goodies!”, I don’t know from where but a sudden energy flowed inside me and what happened next, I think you have guessed it.

Then we had a game called ‘Scavenger Hunt’ where we were given a sheet of paper with questions like “who started contributing to open source before GCI” and we needed to fill as many rows with the names of winners, mentors and Googlers as we could and people with the most names would win some extra goodies. I won one!

Scavenger Hunt in Progress.

We strolled to the hotel and on the way we told the XWiki mentor (Shubham, our partner for next few days) what actually Mifos does. We said goodbye to the Ed as he was having the flight back that evening and then dozed off so as start early next morning.

DAY 1:

This was the day when my unsung childhood dream turned into reality. We started with a 1-hour bus ride to the Google HQ, I didn’t realized when the Google HQ started because in the beginning there were some playgrounds and I thought they were some public playgrounds but then when Stephanie told us that there are Googlers playing there, I was amazed! They had everything from Football Ground to Swimming Pool and did I mention that you can play indoor games near your work desk.

I don’t know how I am going to describe this astounding feeling in words! The day started with the Prize Distribution Ceremony with the Director of Open Source Google – Chris DiBiona and a small talk followed.

Me receiving the prize…. :heart emoji:

We were assigned to a Googler who belonged to the same country as the Winner’s for the lunch. In my case, it was Abhishek Singh who is working in Google Cloud Team. We discussed on various topics but mostly revolved around Google. I forgot to get a photo with him as I was too immersed in talking with him 😛

After lunch, we had tons of talks on various topics ranging from Resume Building to Cryptography. After the talks, was most exciting part of that day, the tour of the famous ‘Google Headquarters’, it included a visit to Google Store and Android Sculptures (Winners were given $150 for purchasing anything from Google Store and mentors were given $75).

Me trying to pose in Bright Sunshine

The day concluded by few more talks by the fellow GCI Winners and instructions by the Google Open Source Team (GOST) for the next day.

DAY 2 (Fun Day):

We were given a choice between Segway Ride & Cable Car Ride, I chose the first one. And I am truly proud of my decision, it was a amusing ride giving us a glimpse of San Francisco in few hours. Riding Segway that too for the first time that too with the like-minded people was truly fun-filled. The ride included many lionized monuments and places like Coit Tower & Fisherman Wharf.

Shubham’s that scary look…

After the Segway Ride, we had lunch in a restaurant in Ghirardelli Square, there was a special menu for the GCI folks which left me awestruck! Lunch followed visit to the epic ‘Golden Gate Bridge’ where some folks were crazy enough to walk across the whole bridge and then come back and I am being lazy, walked about 1 km and then returned :p (one other reason was that weather was very windy and cold that day and on Golden Gate Bridge, it increases exponentially).

Cruise was the last thing for the day and quite enjoyable, views were great, winds were strong and fortunately I got the table on the top deck (there were only 2 tables on the top deck and one of them was already occupied by GOST) getting the breathtaking views.

4 of us posing while Shubham gobbling down his food quickly ;p

This was the most tiring day and as soon I got into my room in Hotel, I plunged on bed and directly went to sleep.

DAY 3:

It was most emotional day for me as this was last day of the trip, saying goodbyes to the people whom with I have connected in last few days was tough for me. The day started with Breakfast in Google San Francisco Office and it followed by the Googlers talking about Kubernetes, Open Source License and Project Fi, those were some cool ones!

Open Source Soldiers going to invade Google Office..

Then there were some talks from GCI Winners and Mentors about their experience during Google Code-in. After that, there was delicious lunch waiting for us. We also discussed how the trip can be improved in future editions. We then clicked photos with students, mentors, googlers and said goodbye to each other and wished for their safe travels.