I meant to write this post while I was actually in America but I was a little to busy fitting in as much as I could, sight seeing and sciencing. The conference was good, the actual trip was great (apart from a small 7hr delay in NYC after our connecting flight to DC got delayed, and delayed, and delayed …).
It was just the boss and I. We left the UK at ~9am on Saturday morning and finally arrived in DC at 2am (7am UK time). This ended up being a blessing in disguise as we were forced straight onto US time without even thinking about it, but the 7hrs spent in terminal 8 of JFK airport was pretty rough going. We slept for about 6hrs before heading out and exploring DC on our only free day (we had to make the most of it 🙂 ).
On the Sunday evening we had a short conference session – the opening remarks and a keynote lecture followed by a drinks reception, but before that we managed to fit in the White House, Washington Monument, Captiol Hill and a little bit of the Smithsonian.
On Monday morning (with the classic red tint of a Brit in the sun) the conference properly got under way. Before the sessions began at 8am(!) I put my poster up and settled down for the day. The conference wasn’t huge so there weren’t multiple sessions, which means no decisions to make about which talks to attend. In the morning we had a coffee break and the first lesson I learnt was, do not, under any circumstances try the tea. I quickly moved onto coffee which I discovered I could drink with a good sugar or two (no hope without).
We had two complete days of talks, with a poster session between 4-6pm each day. I presented mine on the Monday. I have to say I appreciated the early finish of the talks as I really start to fade by 4:30-5pm but it did feel strange having poster sessions wrapped up so early. Both evenings we ate out with other attendees that the boss knows, having Thai food the first night and Turkish the second. As we’d booked an apartment with AirBnB, rather than a hotel, we could sit on our balcony enjoying a bottle of wine in the evening which made the trip much more relaxing.
The conference wrapped up at lunchtime on the Wednesday but we had to leave a little early to make our flight. After an overnight flight we landed back in the UK on Thursday morning. The boss, being the dedicated boss he is, went straight to the lab. I however went straight home for a few more hours sleep (and to do my laundry). I know who felt better on Friday 😛 .
Overall we had a lovely time. I look an exciting new result to the conference and that meant I could really focus on talking to a few specific people. I’ve been to conferences that offered more, but I think the timing of this one worked out really well for me personally. Initially I was really worried about taking time out of the lab so close to the end. There’s a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it, but I think the break actually did me some good. I’m now much more focused and clearer about what really needs to be done. It feels achievable and I’m positive about it. Check back in 3 weeks to see if I’ve changed my mind 😛 .