Don't Forget Your Passport: Reflections on an International Conference

I can remember somebody saying early in the research process it was essential that the research student present his/her material to an international forum. As an inexperienced researcher I thought "you must be joking". However, now I'm further on down the research process line, I'd like to share some experiences of presenting internationally for the first time.

Why present at an international conference? The priority for me was an international publication - the conference abstracts were refereed and published in house - which looks good on a CV and future jobb or fellowship applications. There is also room for improvement within papers with constructive comments from international (as well as domestic) presentations for future periodical or book publicationn. It was also useful networking internationally. This might sound strange but on reflection I found it slightly comforting being unaware of the majority of the people around me. Let me explain. Oncee you begin to get to know those in your field or subject area and become part of that field, I would suggest that personal and other expectations grow. If you are reasonably new to a group you can usee this to your advantage. You can introduce yourself to a total stranger without intimidation, who you later find out is the new Dean of Sydney University and has a publication record we can all only drream about. It can also be a humbling experience when somebody gives you an email address and you suddenly put the name to the face and realise you've quoted this individual in your thesis. Ultimatelyy, I tend to support my supervisor's observation that international conference gives a very positive reception to a researcher.

How do you get to the international conference? You firstly need the information and knowledge concerning the conference which can come from your supervisor, department or subject bulletins or periodiccals. Secondly, and fundamentally, you need the cash. I was lucky enough to be able to combine the remains of an ESRC Studentship, departmental money (expenses) and my own money.

Thirdly, you need understanding departments. The conference was held during a semester so I had to rearrange tutorials with course leaders, secretarial staff and my students. This proved difficult butt not impossible.

Was it worth going to the Australian and New Zealand History of Education Society (ANZHES) Conference held at Newcastle University, Australia. Yes!The conference was well organised and run. It was sponsored by the University and private finance which was visible in the quality of the in house publication of conference papers. This last point is one I would hope we can develop here within the Keele Education Discussion Support Group (KEDSG) with regard to our future student conferences. I got some positive feedback from my paper and it was enjoyable networking with the conference delegates.

Oh yes. I 'misplaced' my passport after arriving at Newcastle airport which gave me a unique insight into the locality: I needed forms obtained from the Student Travel Associationfor a new, temporary passport; I had to 'report' the event to the local police station which also meant I got to meet half the taxi drivers in Newcastle; and, I had to go to the local post office to puurchase the package which would send my temporary passport forms by overnight courier to Canberra. I called the British Embassy several times - believe me they do a good job.

Thankfully, I telephoned the airport and my passport had thankfully been handed in. If you do decide to lose your passport, do it as close to home as is theoretically possible! The time difference in Auustralia means at least a day's delay in temporary passport application. This could be perceived by some as a bonus, especially during an Australian summer, but a risky endeavour considering there were students back home waiting to learn more about the delights of social theory.