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My first international MUN conference was definitely... abroad. I had to actually get on a plane and fly for 5 hours to get there! Surprise! This may be obvious, but for someone who has never been on a plane before, it was somewhat a shock. Once I got out of the plane and into the airport, it was even more of a shock. Everyone looked differently, spoke differently and dressed differently. It was really scary at first, mostly because I felt like I stood out - head to toe covered in fabric in the middle of July- I felt like a stranger. It did take me a while to feel comfortable again, but in the end, I did overcome that feeling of culture shock and started embracing the new culture. Meeting new people, seeing new places and trying new foods and drinks is not something you get to do everyday, so better get the most of it instead of curling up into a little ball of awkwardness!
2. It's Okay to Be a Beginner
I remember in my very first session, I did not say a single word! I sat there for two hours in total fascination of what was going on. All these well-spoken delegates with their fancy jargon and classy debate, it was like the things I saw on the news. I was so scared of raising my placard and standing up and not knowing what to say, and embarrassing myself. I was even scared of approaching others during unmoderated caucus! Total failure, right?
Wrong. It's completely fine to be scared and confused at first, as long as you are focused and trying your best to learn, you will be fine. Don't be intimidated by more experienced MUNers, you will get there at some point. Try your best and learn from them, and don't be too hard on yourself.
3. Be Sociable
There is no point in sitting alone in the corner and not talking to anyone! You are here in a room full of students from all over the globe, so you might as well take the chance and make some new friends. Get out of your comfort zone, get up and say hi to someone, you will be surprised at what happens next. Making friends from different countries will not only give you more confidence, it will introduce you to new cultures, new opinions and will teach you a lot. I personally learned how to view things from different perspectives and have a fresh new eye. I learned how to stop being judgmental, how to embrace others and how to empathize. These are things that no textbook will teach, these are precious things you only learn through interaction with others.
4. Say Something, Say Anything
Drawing on from number 2, being a beginner is no excuse for staying quiet through all the sessions. Not only do most conferences deny providing a certificate for delegates who don't participate during the debate, but you are also defying the whole point of the conference. You are here to debate, to learn and to widen your horizon. If you stay an observer, you are doing none of these. It did take me some time and effort to speak confidently, but I did it. And trust me, no one will think you are stupid or laugh at your accent! You are in a room full of people from different countries and continents, and varying levels of experience. It is completely fine of you slip, the chairpersons and your fellow delegates are there to help you and pick you up. I remember, sometimes I got up just to say "the delegation completely agrees with and encourages this sentence" and no one laughed at me, on the contrary, everyone (especially the chairpersons) appreciates a beginner who has the courage to raise their placard and say something! If you mess up with a few words, or forget to yield the floor back to the chairs, that's no problem, just try your best and learn from your mistakes.
5. Don't Forget to Enjoy it!
In the middle of all this debate and researching, it is very likely you might get burnt out and miss all the adventures. Most conferences organize excursions, outings and parties for their delegates, so try your best to attend every single one. Being out and about will help you bond with other delegates and will show you a city you probably never saw before. Don't hesitate to take on the new adventure! If there is any chance to go on more outings by yourself or with your friends then go ahead and take it. I basically toured the Netherlands in the few gap days I had until my flight, and some of my friends toured Europe! Trust me, even if you spend the last penny in your pocket on traveling, you will never regret it!