Requested by @Nicholas and I didn't think anyone knew what OM was! For people that don't, it can be summed up way too simplistically as a creativity competition
  1. Flying in a plane for the first time
    And panicking that my friends taking pictures with their flip phones were going to crash the plane
  2. Landing in Iowa and seeing nothing but nothing - my first and only impression of the Midwestern United States
  3. Getting a University of Iowa dorm room and thinking "is this what prison is like?"
    A thought I'd have again when given another university dorm room 7 years later
  4. Marching in a scuba diver costume in the opening ceremony that I can only imagine is what the Olympics are like
    New Jersey's theme was sharks: Take a Bite Out of Creativity
  5. All the countries and US states traded pins to put on a towel
    This was the coolest part of the whole event. Getting international pins was really valuable (I remember Hong Kong had interlocking black and white dogs to look like Yin and Yang so you got TWO PINS out of it).
  6. No one wanted a pin from New Jersey that had glowing shark eyes on it
    But it lights up! Surely that's cool! Texas had the best - Tositos and Salsa pins, followed by Kansas who had a huge collection of Wizard of Oz pins.
  7. Hanging out in the Rutgers team dorm and thinking we were actual best friends
    Now as a Rutgers student, what kind of college kids befriend a group of sixth graders for a week?
  8. Having university dining and getting soft serve ice cream three times a day
  9. Seeing a rainbow stretch across the entire plains and deciding Iowa was the best after all
    Despite apparently not having any actual residents
  10. Watching my team fail in the Spontaneous round and not being able to do anything about it because 1 team member had to sit out
    Some explainin'- half of the competition was the Spontaneous challenge, the most stressful thing put a child through Verbal spontaneous was about creative responses. Ex. Name something blue: "the moon, once in a while" would get more points than "this shirt." I crushed those. Physical spontaneous was usually building structures out of office supplies, which I always knocked over accidentally. So I sat out. But this ended up being a puzzle and they got 7/100 points (awarded for teamwork)
  11. My team member throwing the competition by deciding moments before performing that she "lost her voice"
    Something I believed as bad luck at the time, something I call complete bullshit today
  12. Feeling this horrible tightness in my stomach and chest for the first time that I didn't understand, but would later be diagnosed as lifelong anxiety disorder
  13. Carrying the performance anyway because I was the lead and I love attention
    The main challenge: doing a hilarious skit that fulfilled a laundry list of creativity challenges while having dynamic sets and costumes made of weird materials. Other challenge divisions included creating robot cars and building balsa wood structures to hold ridiculous amounts of weight. All done in like 6 minutes or you were disqualified.
  14. Our performance being about a diva (me) news broadcaster on a jungle safari searching for a precious diamond the Shimmerisha, which could make animals talk or something maybe?
  15. It not going well
    For the first time in hundreds of practices and regional or state competitions.
  16. Watching a t-shirt gun in action for the first time at the awards ceremony
    Catching a t-shirt
  17. An early lesson in the superiority of China
    The winners of just about every division
  18. Reading the final scores of non-winning teams, and scrolling my finger allllll the way to the bottom to find my team listed as last place in the whole world
    But just laughing about it because I just had the most amazing week of my life and we weren't going to beat Asia anyway