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.
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.
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.
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