picture of a sunrise from the inside of the plane, with the wing in the view

Preparing For My Academic Conference Abroad ✈️

The prospect of leaving home, for however long a period of time, can be daunting. In this case, I will be leaving for four days to attend a the Western Political Science Association's Annual Meeting. At the site in Portland, Oregon, I will be presenting some research I had conducted during my term at American University as a Fulbright Canada Killam Fellow. I'll be part of the postering session, which is the only undergraduate event available. It involves creating a trifold science-fair-style, and discussing it with people who walk by the display. Unlike a science fair, I don't think there is a prize to be won.

But this is precisely, at least to me, the allure of participating in an academic conference. I enjoy being able to share my ideas without threat of a declaration that it is better or worse than somebody else's. The postering session is also a great venue to meet new friends interested in the same political science oriented topics as me, among them global trade and public polling methods. I read through the participants' names and institutions in the program emailed over. There is a great diversity of home schools and in ideas being presented. As terrifying as crossing the US-Canada border may be, I am quite excited to learn about others' work at the postering session and some of the graduates' talks afterwards.

To prepare, I have started with booking an antigen test for travel clearance a week in advance of my departure date. I always opt for Shoppers Drug Mart's service, for they have many locations and lots of availability. I have also taken time to unwind at home. When I work with pastels, I find that I can play with colors while contemplating some of my talking points—both at once.

a pastel sketch of an apple on a table, with a box of pastels nearby

I am also planning on having my poster printed before flying to Portland. I don't want to cut it too close by having the printed poster mailed to Portland or having it printed upon my arrival. I will invest in a laminated, long-lasting stock, for I plan on sharing the same research at another conference in Quebec next month. Poster printing is expensive, it is slated to cost upwards of over a hundred dollars, but I don't think there is a way around this. The Victoria College has a printing shop (in the basement of Old Vic), but the largest size they print is not large enough for my needs.

Lastly, I also applied for an award from the department of political science to offset the costs of attending this conference. The Professor Frank Peers Award I received covers all of my proposed budget, which turns out to fall a little short of the actual expected budget. I am able to cover the difference in costs, but would not have been able to cover all the expenses associated with attending this conference—which is upwards of 1400 dollars including airfare, lodging, poster printing, and COVID-19 travel testing.

I hope this helps you consider how you might show some of your research at an academic conference. There are many opportunities to join other students in your field, and also to get funding for assistance with doing so. 💡

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