Shedding Skin at Talking Bodies 2017

By Emma Dunn, PhD Student in the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture

As a PhD student, international conferencing can be intimidating. If you’re like me, when surrounded by brilliant minds in your field, you can often feel stuck somewhere between shameless optimism and crippling self-doubt. However, the recent conference I attended with the support of Ryerson’s International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF) – Talking Bodies 2017 at the University of Chester, UK – helped assuage my uncertainties and increase my confidence as an emerging scholar.

 

Engagement; networking; motivation. If I had to summarize my experience with Talking Bodies 2017 in three words, these would suffice.

Cathedral, Chester UK

Both the organizers and the delegates of the conference were extremely friendly to graduate students; in addition to presenting my research on anorexia and doll culture, I was able to absorb many engaging ideas from my fellow presenters. I made meaningful connections with scholars and graduate students from around the world, and gained new motivation to work on my thesis upon my return to Toronto.

Town Hall, Chester UK

Moreover, the conference took place in one of the most enchanting towns I’ve ever visited. Chester was used as a Roman fortress in the 1st century A.D., a fact that is illuminated by its long, red sandstone Roman walls, which frame the old town. Chester is also characterized by its red brick row houses and authentic Tudor style architecture. In between my intellectually stimulating conference sessions, I made time to walk around the town and take in its beauty.

One of the big bonuses of travelling to the UK for a conference is that there are many low-budget travel options offered to numerous places in Europe. With this considered, I of course couldn’t turn down the opportunity to continue my journey once the conference was over. I went on to travel through the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany for two weeks. Travelling with low-cost transit, sticking to a strict budget, cooking instead of eating out, and staying in inexpensive AirBnbs allowed me to travel to these three additional countries on a low student-friendly budget.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Canals, Amsterdam

May Day Protests, Switzerland

My inspiring experience at Talking Bodies 2017 would not have been possible without the support of Ryerson’s ICRSF. Participating in international conferences has allowed me to see places I never would have seen on my own, and to grow academically, emotionally, and spiritually; I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

Conferencing in Thailand and Beyond

By Adel Alhalawani, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

 In March 2017, I received the International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF) to travel to Thailand for an unforgettable global learning experience. My wife, Rania, came with me as well!

For the first week of our trip, we explored Bangkok, getting a taste of its people, food and culture. Soon after, I presented my research on new silicate-based bioglasses for orthopedic applications at the 3rd World Congress of Smart Materials hosted by BIT Global Inc. The conference was an extremely rewarding experience. I took advantage of various opportunities. For instance, sharing knowledge from the other side of the world, discussing possible advances in the field and making plans for future collaborations with leading innovators in the sector.

After the conference, Rania and I drove 2 hours away from Bangkok to the beautiful city of Pattaya, where we parasailed in the Gulf of Thailand, relaxed on the beach of Koh Larn island and tried some of Thailand’s world renowned seafood.

The week after, we actually flew to the beautiful Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is where I completed my Masters Degree in 2013, so I was very excited to show my wife around. It was 45 ℃; a great contrast to the -20 ℃ we left behind in Toronto!

During the trip, we visited Malaya University, where I met with a cardiac surgeon and discussed details of a future collaboration.  We also visited the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC), the 100 acre site that hosts the tallest twin buildings in the world.

We then traveled northeast of the city to the Genting Highlands, which is 1,740 meters above ground level. We loved cooling off and trying a diversity of tropical fruits. One of the most exciting parts of this trip was the cable car, which took us to the top of the hill passing through the clouds. The nature around us was breathtaking.

Our trips to both Thailand and Malaysia were full of fun and adventures. Lots of unforgettable memories in different theme parks and city attractions! I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Mark Towler, and Ryerson International for giving me the opportunity to participate in an international conference that was so relevant to my program of study.