As I've previously mentioned... I love to travel and one of the ways I've been able to do most of my travels as a grad student is by going to conferences. This year, our annual entomology meeting was combined with the International Congress of Entomology which occurs every 4 years. Because of this, I was able to travel to Orlando, Fl! Now, to be honest, I wasn't particularly excited about this trip. I was worried about the weather (yes, I'm from the subtropics, but after almost 9 years in northern temperate climates, I don't handle heat and humidity that well), how big the meeting was going to be, and just plain stressed out about being gone from my research for so long (1 week!). I felt so uninspired I packed about 3 hours before leaving and I didn't even make a list! - if you know me, you'll know I make lists for my trips DAYS in advance if not weeks. That's how excited I normally get.
So I tried to get pumped up by reminding myself that I would be seeing my ento-friends, whom I only see once a year at our annual ESA meeting. I tried to think about how I normally enjoy listening to other people's science. And finally, I thought that if everything else went wrong at least I could sneak a trip to Universal studios. But guess what?
I loved, loved, loved this meeting, probably one of my favorite meetings (Avignon-2013 is still probably my top, I mean... France!). I didn't even go to the parks. I had so much fun both during the conference hours as well as during the off times. I obviously spent time with my friends as I had originally planned, met new people from all over the world, and even got to catch up with one of my childhood friends who lives nearby. Sciencewise: I heard great talks both by senior scientists as well as up and coming younger researchers. My fellow grad students killed it at their talks!
Overall, I just felt inspired... I charged some batteries and now I am so excited about finishing my PhD and moving forward with my career. Postdocs anyone? I'm searching. So in conclusion, if you are a grad student - go to meetings. You'll meet potential collaborators, you'll get to see what is happening in your field without having to go through tedious papers, and if you're anything like me, it will remind you how awesome science is and why you're putting yourself through the pain of grad school. If on the other hand, you are a PI - send your students to conferences. They'll get all the exposure they will need later in their careers and they will get back to your lab with new exciting ideas. And if you're neither - just go anyway! You'll get to visit a new place ;)
I didn't get to take many photos cause I was having such a good time but here are a few: