Diary of a conference attendee – day one, coffee and impostor syndrome

Hotel beds are a special kind of bed that are strangely comfortable when you first lie on them but progressively less comfortable the longer you lie on them. This means that my first day of EGU has not started well.

06:40 – Beepy noises are loud and unpleasant and should be banned. I regret not setting an alarm clock that was nice pretty tinkly wake up sunshine music. BEEP BEEP BEEP is a very aggressive start to a day.

07:15 – I’m starting to feel more awake partly because I’ve had a shower and that’s always refreshing, but partly because this particular morning I had to contort myself around the shower to get anything more than mildly damp. I had a shower; I feel much more awake.

07:30 – As this is the first day I’ve gone with a breakfast of muesli, yogurt and fruit juice. While I feel virtuous I also know full well that tomorrow I’ll probably have some eggs on toast and by Friday I’ll be piling up my plate with a small mountain of bacon, while drinking a vat of coffee and cream. But for today I can enjoy the smug satisfaction of having had a healthy breakfast.

08:10 – I’ve now packed my bag three times in the hope of getting the right combination of things for the first day of the conference. I’ve decide on about 10kg of stuff 90% of which is essentially “just in case”. Also some snack bars, at no time during a conference do I want to be unable to snack.

08:45 – The conference started about 15 minutes before I arrived. In retrospect looking at a metro map and randomly judging it to be about 20mins was not the most responsible way to to guess how long it would take me to get there. I’ve not had any time yet to look at the conference program so I decided to choose my first sessions by “the door was open and there weren’t many people so I took pity on the speaker”. It’s a time-honoured method.

09:30 – I’m starting to wonder if the time-honoured method was the right way to go. I ended up in a session on “Phenology and seasonality in climate change and ecology”. I have a suspicion that what they were doing was very clever… I’m just think I need a whole new degree to work that out… or a lot more coffee.

10:30 – First exciting surprise of the conference, free coffee and much more importantly free giant cookies! My brain is now slowly changing from mildly befuddled and sleepy, to wired and highly caffeinated. I’m already questioning my decision not to have morning coffee at the start of the day.

11:30 – After this morning’s cold shock of geoscience I’ve decided to take a session off to draw cartoons. Cartoons drawn with a sleepy brain tend to be a lot more wobbly and well, crap. So I’m skipping that session just to keep the ‘quality’ up, you’re all collectively welcome 😉

12:15 – With my press pass I have access to the media centre. This is a small selection of rooms where I can write and get better internet access. But even more importantly it’s also where I can go eat some delicious free lunch. Apparently a good strategy in press relations is keeping them well fed, a strategy I wholeheartedly agree with. That said, being well fed hasn’t in anyway reduced my imposter syndrome of being a blogger in a ‘press’ room but at least I’m now full AND feeling like an imposter. Oddly enough the imposter syndrome from not being a geoscientist is being nicely masked by my ‘press’ imposter syndrome, which is a plus.

13:00 – More talks, this time in an area that from the title I may actually know something about as it involves detecting stuff! What we having just had a deliciously large lunch I’m now feeling more than a bit dopey, I need some exciting sensors stuff to keep my brain awake!

13:10 – Turns out I can’t read the programme and this session doesn’t start for a while… this lecture room very warm…. Zzzzzz

15:30 – I woke up in time to discover that there is stuff in soil that’s worth detecting (I’m pretty sure I knew that already). More importantly for me the people here seem to actually know what the stuff they’re looking for is (something I certainly didn’t already know). I now have a handy list of lots of things that I know are ‘of interest’ which is a good start and at the very least gives me topics of conversation to talk to people about at the posters.

17:00 – Poster time! I love posters, especially because there is beer lots and lots of tasty beer. EGU has a grand total of FIVE poster halls every day. In one hall the poster numbers go up to 500 o.O. There’s a lot of posters. Including several posters that are being worn by a particularly fashionable Rolf Hut.

18:30 – I’ve been conferencing for 10 hours. Time to find beer and tasty Austrian food. Check back same time tomorrow for day two of A Diary of a Conference Attendee which will be featuring a geology badger.

Click to read day two here

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