One of the best things about studying in London is that travelling around Europe is fast and inexpensive. So every time I have an opportunity to go to a different city, I don’t even think about it, I just go. For me travelling means so much more than just to visit a different country. I think that when you travel you also learn a lot about yourself. You get to know what it is that you are capable of, and you mature in so many ways.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Sixth CONACYT Symposium in Strasbourg, France. This symposium gathers a lot of students from Mexico that are completing a master or a PhD in Europe. It is the perfect opportunity to share with others the project that you are working on in your universities.
Even though I have previously attended and participated in multiple national conferences during my undergraduate program in the U.S., I was a little bit nervous. Attending this conference was in so many ways different from the previous ones. First of all, it was in a different country where I do not speak the language. Secondly, I usually travelled to conferences in a group, but this time I was going by myself. Every single part of this trip was just a whole adventure.
To begin with, I lost my bus to the airport, and you can imagine how stressed out I was. But when I was finally on the airplane, I promised myself not to be stressed out about anything else but instead enjoy every part of the trip. As I arrived two days before the conference, I took a train to another city close to Strasbourg, Colmar. I had done a quick research on the area before, and Colmar was highly recommended.
Colmar was fantastic; the architecture of the houses was beautiful, it was like being in a fairytale. The first day, as Colmar is a small city, I walked around the town and had a nice dinner. On the second day, I decided to rent a bicycle, and go to a town which supposedly was only 25 min away, Eguisheim. I never learned how to ride a bicycle properly, but a couple of summers ago, on a trip to Chicago, a friend of mine and I decided to do a city tour on a bike, and although at that point I hadn’t ridden a bicycle before, I kind of learned. So I thought that if I was able to ride a bicycle in a huge city, I should be able to ride it in a small city. It didn’t take me 25 minutes because I was constantly stopping, but after 50 minutes, I finally arrived at Eguisheim. And it was worth it! Eguisheim is picturesque and lovely.
On the third day, I took an early train back to Strasbourg where the conference was going to be held. I went to the student residence where I was going to be staying, and quickly changed clothes for the induction ceremony. Entering and being in the European Parliament was a whole experience. Going through security, and seating in one of the parliament seats was just astonishing. As I told you before, I didn’t know anyone at the conference but thankfully, I quickly started meeting people and, after the conference I am happy to tell you that I have so many new friends all throughout Europe.
The symposium itself was amazing in every single detail. I was able to learn about other projects, which ranged from microbiology to political science. In addition, this was an excellent opportunity to network as there was a lot of famous directors and professors from very recognized universities, plus all the great colleagues who are studying in Europe.
There is no better combination than travelling and participating in a conference. I think that assisting and participating in conventions is key to our professional development and, as students in Europe, we should definitely take advantage of the geographical proximity to other countries and travel as much as we can.