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!

 

 

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.

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.

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.

The 19th International Conference on Building Simulation and Environmental Engineering in Dubai

By Christopher Xavier Mendieta, Graduate Program in Building Science

The plan went like this: stay awake on the flight to Dubai, power through and come out smiling, having beaten jetlag and remaining energized for my first international conference. Twelve hours later I walked off the plane feeling not the least bit tired, taxied to the hotel, got into the room and decided to test the bed. I woke up in the dark. My cellphone read 5:30. Perfect, I’d head out to watch the 6:30 sunrise. The receptionist at the front desk hesitated when I asked about a good place to go, “at this hour?” She replied. I hit the street and notice the cafes and restaurants are full of people in good clothes. They start early here, I’d thought. I was craving an ocean sunrise. I walked on, the streets were empty, the Metro was still locked up. I stopped a slow moving couple and they told me, gently, that the beach was too far to walk. I checked my phone, 6:30. I looked from the screen to the sky, absent the sunrise, and then caught sight of a clock through a storefront window. It was 3:30AM, local time. I went back to the hotel and got some much needed rest.

Dubai plays host to a number of excesses, which match the extravagance of its scale. For $7,000 you can have a drink layered in gold flakes, for a cool $200,000 you can have the world’s most expensive pizza, topped assumedly with “the best ingredients in the world”, not to mention plenty of gold flakes. This richness is present all over the United Arab Emirates. It makes possible the extravagant activities and building designs.

I would be presenting my research at the 19th International Conference on Building Simulation and Environmental Engineering in front of industry professionals, scholars, and professors. For me it was a massive step into my field, a surreal experience for an engineer with limited conference exposure. In the beginning I was nervous, but I felt confident enough to deliver the message that had been crafted with the support of my advisor. The development of energy benchmarks through the collection of public data allows us to granularly compare the energy efficiency of buildings without the need for extensive building audits. I was gratified to see the level of engagement in the post-presentation discussion, and felt I’d done my part. Later I learned that I’d won Best Paper in my category, and I knew that in the future I’d begin a lot of stories about my career with that moment.

I wanted to see as much as I could of the built environment, so I took a trip to Masdar City and saw what it means to build a city with passive cooling strategies and human scale in mind. It lays the sprawl and illogic of modern historical cities bare in its compactness and attention to harmony. It wants to become the city of the future, with self-driving cars and streets between buildings for pedestrians only. While there, I was able to tour a net zero energy houses engineered for the desert climate. Everything in Masdar is designed using passive strategies to keep its inhabitants comfortable without resorting to unnecessary consumption.

Dubai was a dream, but it was the validation and momentum I drew from my experience speaking that continues to inspire me to go farther. It’s something I never could have done without the support of the Architectural Science department and the International Conference and Research Support Fund, which were there with funding available and a desire for its students to engage with professionals in the field.

And no, in all my excitement and flash-blindness, I never made it to the beach.

 

RYERSON INTERNATIONAL 2016/2017 PHOTO CONTEST!


Photo by Kangyi (Collin) Shen – 2015 Contest Winner
Title: Aurora
Location: Yellowknife

*The contest is open to all 2016/2017 participants of the Ryerson International Exchange Program, 2016/2017 recipients of RIWEF and ICRSF, as well as students who have participated in academic placements and internships

To enter the contest, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Select 1-3 photos from your international learning experience and write a caption for each. We encourage photos of your global learning experience, as well as landscape and architectural photos.
  2. Write a short description (approximately 100-200 words) about a memorable experience from your time abroad.
  3. Send photo(s) with captions and write up to rihelp@ryerson.ca by MONDAY APRIL 24th, 2017 with the subject line: Photo Contest 2017.

The winner will be announced on MONDAY MAY 8th, 2017!

The winner will receive a prize, and their photos will be featured on this blog.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

The 2017 Ryerson International Photo Contest has officially begun!


Photo by Kangyi (Collin) Shen – 2015 Contest Winner
Title: Aurora

*The contest is open to all 2016/2017 participants of the Ryerson International Exchange Program, 2016/2017 recipients of RIWEF and ICRSF, as well as students who have participated in academic placements and internships

To enter the contest, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Select 1-3 photos from your international learning experience and write a caption for each. We encourage photos of your global learning experience, as well as landscape and architectural photos.
  2. Write a short description (approximately 100-200 words) about a memorable experience from your time abroad.
  3. Send photo(s) with captions and write up to rihelp@ryerson.ca by MONDAY APRIL 24th, 2017 with the subject line: Photo Contest 2017.

The winner will be announced on MONDAY MAY 8th, 2017!

The winner will receive a prize, and their photos will be featured on this blog.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!