International Conferencing as an International Student

By Desislava Stefanova, Masters Student in the Environmental Applied Science and Management Program

MIT Campus

Last April, Ryerson International awarded me with the International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF) to represent the university at the AAG International Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

As an international student here at Ryerson, I was thrilled not only to present my research, but also to explore a new city on this side of the pond.

Boston

It was my first time attending an international conference AND my first time presenting my own study. Although I was super excited, I was also somewhat sceptical that people wouldn’t find my work interesting.

My research examines how tree canopies impact traffic noise within a streetscape. In other words, I discovered that trees in front of my house attenuate traffic noise, making my life more peaceful.

Upon arrival at the conference, I put up my poster and waited. Soon after, the first person stopped to inquire about my research. At first, I lacked confidence and thought to myself: “Am I saying the right words? Is it at all important? …” But the woman was pretty interested so we kept talking and exchanging information. In fact, it turned out that some people came specifically to see my poster!

I met professors who study noise effects on human health; I met professionals who evaluate noise measurements; I met students who work on noise mitigation. It was great for networking!

Fenway Park

In addition to the conference, I had the opportunity to be a typical tourist. To get into the real Bostonian spirit – my colleagues and I went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Bostonians are furiously enthusiastic about their team!

MIT Campus

In order to get inspiration for a PhD, I visited MIT and Harvard University! The “smell” of intelligence was all around.

The experience of traveling to Boston for this conference helped grow my confidence, network, and public speaking abilities. And most importantly, it brought me joy from a job well-done!

I would like to thank the Environmental Applied Science and Management Master’s Program, the Geography and Environmental Studies Department and Ryerson International for the International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF). None of this could have been possible without your support!