Conference-ing at CIRN

After more than 24 hours of traveling, I made it back to Urbana-Champaign. So while I'm catching up on sleep, I came up with some CIRN nuggets of truth on the various plane rides today. I definitely have more to say on this conference (because it was awesome) but here's a start.

  • I know nothing about Australian politics. Frankly, I know very little about Australia or other countries represented at the conference, such as South Africa, the Netherlands, or (insert another country here). At one of our dinners, it was mentioned that in Australia, at least half of the national news broadcast is about international news. I would say that the United States struggles to have international news cover more than 15% of our broadcasts. Those moments helped me see the privilege I am granted by being an American and want to make a more concentrated effort to look into international news because as a person, it’s important to know more than what’s happening inside the “American bubble.”   
  • There are people across the world who share similar research passions and have run into the same struggles of doing research in grad school. At my last dinner in Prato, I hung out with three incredible women who were all close to my age. We talked about the isolation we sometimes feel as we do research and how we talk about our research to our friends and family who aren’t in this field with us. 
  • Coffee breaks are essential. There was something so relaxing about going through a session and knowing that at the end of it, the barista would be out in the common space, ready to make me another cappuccino. 
  • Time is long and spread out. I had to readjust to dinner starting at 7:30 PM and stretching until almost midnight. There was so much emphasis on conversation while surrounded by good food. This is so different than the world I found myself in before I left. Granted, I’m sure I will feel that all too familiar rush and impatience next week as I catch up on life in Chambana, but it’s comforting to know this sort of lifestyle exists. 
  • I need to learn some Italian. There were times where I felt so embarrassed, embarrassed to even walk into a store for that fear of a salesperson coming up to me to say hello and ask if I needed anything in Italian. That moment where I would freeze and plead with my eyes. The “I don’t speak Italian and I feel horrible about it” look.