photo by: RustmanI was at a three-day conference this week. I met up with some academic friends from the circuit, I attended a few fascinating presentations from various fields (something that always makes me feel less isolated and more inspired about the academic enterprise), and I received a lot of positive feedback after my paper.
However, it was also terribly exhausting. These days, even heading to the shops can be a small test of character so I am not sure how I thought mingling with over two hundred cerebralites would be a supple experience. I have been assured that this general ickiness is thesis-related. But just in case things don't change after submission, I have written myself a list of things I need to read before the next conference:
Your Pre-Conference Reminder
- Arrive with some sense of stillness. You are always zonked by the time you walk past the first set of publishers' stalls after registration. Pack earlier. Leave the evening before for relaxation.
- Give a positive comment before questions and comments (because you're almost always enthused by the research going on out there!).
- Avoid responding vocally to phrases like 'transferable skills' or 'employability' in other people's presentations unless you have written down my question or comment beforehand. It's essentially an emotional response and should probably be left to eye-twitching unless an answerable question can be posed or a measured comment can be made.
- Remember to take a watch or finally buckle and trade in your 2004 phone for one with some useful applications (and some degree of attractiveness). Having to ask a fellow participant to provide your wake-up calls each day (via mobile phone) isn't smooth.
- Avoid the biscuits at afternoon tea. They make you zone out during the last session and contribute to your erratic responses to certain buzz words.
- Be more accommodating and subdued when accepting feedback. Maybe don't say, in response to someone suggesting you read more Bourdieu, that while you like his work, you think that most empirical researchers tackle the agency-structure problem by producing one paragraph that summarises his concepts of disposition, field and habitus and then simply present their findings. That's probably unwisely presuming that audience members (in front of their peers) know that the spirit behind very nearly everything you say in any context is good and that of course you appreciate their advice.
- Red wine at the social events is not your ally. It doesn't matter that everyone else is drinking loads of it. (Actually, I think you learnt this from last time and did well on this front. Keep up the good work!)
- Account for the extra time needed to unwind before falling asleep each night. Travelodges, one of the premier destinations for student-participants, are strange institutions with lots of noise and pinewood, unnervingly young staff, arbitrary heating and no phones (and therefore no wake-up calls). You know you need optimum conditions for a restful sleep.