My first international conference

Dodoosin
4 min readNov 1, 2023

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I was in disbeleif when I got an email that my abstract has been accepted for the conference in Dresden. I was so sure that I would not get to go that I had not even bothered to check for visa slots or other travel arrangements. Even after the email, I thought the trip would somehow get cancelled- my supervisor might think I’m too young in my career for an international trip at the moment and advice me not to go. Infact that’s exactly what I thought too. I hadn’t even given my quals then (not yet now too lol). I thought I could put my contingency funds to better use by getting equipments for the lab and my time to better use by working on my project. But anyways, my supervisor was super happy for me and then I was super excited too. All the more happier because I also won another travel grant apart from my contigency funding and our department chair was happy too!

TLDR- Messed up visa planning but I got it :)- Then I realised that there were no visa slots for Schengen business before the conference dates xD. Everyone gave me stern looks- wth were you doing all this time??? (In my defence I was quite sure my abstract wouldn’t be selected). After speaking to multiple seniors I decided to get a Schengen tourist visa and the only slot available was for France. I was confused whether or not to mention the conference in my Visa application. After submitting my France tourist visa application with my conference in Germany mentioned (Also ofc makeshift itineraries for sightseeing in France), one of my seniors told me he had done the same for Swiss and his visa got rejected. This made me super anxious because I had already booked my flight tickets and the travel was less than a fortnight away with no sight of my visa. I frantically emailed the embassy and they got back to me saying the visa application load was high and they were preferring applications with travel dates less than a week away. This gave me a little reassurance and around this time my mom who was also coming with me to Europe (double yay!!) got the visa but I hadn’t lol.

Anyways I finally got the visa 4 days before travel and this was when it hit me- Wow I’m going to Europe!!! — The land of cobblestoned streets, fancy fancy art, street musiscians and RENAISSANCE! [I took this amazing history course in ug and renaissance really amazes me. But after visiting Italy I realised that everything started in Greece lol, issokay, saving it for another sponsored trip;) ]. I was also super excited to finally meet some legends in my field of research whose papers have always amazed me! I knew that confernces are for meeting these people, talking to them about your work for feedback and opportunities, but I was already nervous about doing that. I was not confident with my work, the result I was going to present was a very recent one and we had no idea why the hell that was happening.

Anyways I made my poster and packed in a rush, getting it printed only hours before my flight. We went shopping for formal shoes but they were all too narrow and uncomfortable and I decided I would just sport sandals. My mom had a HUGE trolley, the kind that people take when they are moving to a new country. I hate luggage while travelling but boy did the suitcase with all the edible stuff come in real handy, I just couldn’t eat the bland food there! If not for the suitcase, I would have preferred starving to death.

I remember pulling the heavy trolley in the dead of the night on the ramp outside my hostel and going to get the flight. When we landed in Paris, I had expected to jump in excitement but I was too tired to stay awake. On the taxi ride from the hotel to the airport I was super scared we were gonna kidnapped, both of our phones did not have mobile data. Anyways we did reach safely and despite the tiredness and the scare, the cute little Parisian streets had my heart. We were so surprised to see the sun up and bright at like 8pm!!

Nest day we had the typical French breakfast at our hotel before leaving for the railway station to go to Dresden via Frankfurt and Leipzig. It was quite an adventure to decode the tickets and the railway stations in French and German, thanks to google lens. I decided to get a Sub of sorts at Leipzig station to fill my stomach and it was the blandest and the rawest thing I’ve ever eaten. I finally understood why people say that food is the biggest problem if moving out of the country.

— — — To be continued — — — — —

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Dodoosin

Poetry and some random words. Grad student trying to document my PhD journey semi-anonymously.