All my (mis)conceptions about scientific conferences, and I have attended a few, have been shattered last week.
When I had first seen the list of plenary speakers for the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference, I immediately knew I would enjoy my week in Tucson, Arizona. Nonetheless, I remained just a little nervous–what was my place? An undergraduate who didn’t even have a poster to present. Would I be able to keep up a conversation with an expert in the field? Could I even force myself to approach strangers older and more knowledgeable than I?
As I arrived in Arizona on Monday, April 9, the excitement and anxiety both heightened. But in the shuttle on the way to the resort, I found myself having an easy enough conversation with a forensic scientist as the cacti floated past outside the window.
We finally made it to the hotel, and, finding the temperature far too high for a hike, I made my way to the pool. Even before commencing my swim, I had already conversed with another attendee of the conference. In later discussions, I learned that he was interested in spiritual experiences, and had travelled all around the globe. This isn’t too hard. Relieved, I jumped into the refreshing water and swam the circumference of the pool a few times. Then I noticed a woman reading a booklet with the TSC logo. I sat down on a nearby pool-chair, and we talked for the next few hours.
Eventually, she had to leave to one of the “pre-conference talks”, and I changed into dry clothes and went to have a salad, refusing the drinks a waitress insisted I order, after which, jetlagged, I fell straight asleep.