Just last week, I attended my very first conference: an ALLODD one, no less! Held in the understatedly beautiful city of Strasbourg, this event was my first chance to finally meet my fellow PhD students in-person, after joining the program 5 months ago. Thankfully, three of them had already visited me in Athens, which made the initial apprehension of facing a group of 15 new (but amazing) people much easier.
The first two days of talks proved intense and demanded all the brainpower we could muster. But once the talks were over, we still had the perfect opportunity to replenish it, just as Ilpo Vattulainen advised, by eating Alsacian-style fish during the planned social events. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear firsthand about the current role of allostery in research, both from the academic and pharmaceutical perspectives, after having spent countless hours reading about it in my first months of PhD.
On the third day, I was finally able to hear my colleagues explain their projects and share their progress in their own words. It is always alluring to learn about science outside one's own tiny research niche, and to witness the seamless flow of discussions that arose between different fields of research.
Attending the ESR-exclusive training activities (and equally importantly, our own unplanned socialization events after) was an invaluable opportunity to share and discuss between us about the challenges and achievements of undertaking a PhD, and find support in one another. I appreciated the chance to get to know my peers on a more personal level, exchanging stories and experiences, and realizing how serendipity brought us all together from different places and backgrounds.
As my TGV departed from Strasbourg, I was left with a pleasant sense of fulfillment and growth. And an even more intense urge to meet everyone again in just 4 months! See you soon.