On Attending International Conferences

I first wrote this when I was about to begin graduate school. Although I have not had as many opportunities to attend international conferences during my graduate career, I believe early career psychologists can gain a lot from attending international conferences.

My Experience with International Conferences in Psychology

To date, I have attended two international conferences: The Asian Conference on Psychology and Behavioral Sciences in Osaka, Japan; and the 4th Mind-Body Interface International Symposium in Taichung, Taiwan. Through these experiences, I have had the opportunity to combine recreational travelling with career development. To illustrate, preceding the conference in Taiwan, I traveled to Hong Kong to see the sites and to meet with colleagues. Later during that trip, I had the chance to stay with a friend of mine who resides in Taipei, Taiwan. While at the conference, I spoke with psychology researchers and students from around the globe. Of all the attendees, I was the only American, which is quite the rare occurrence in the research field of psychology. I especially enjoyed how the conference espoused cultural diversity in perspectives regarding research on the mind-body connection (i.e., the concept of our thoughts having a direct influence on our physiology).

Wandering around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Wandering around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Why International Conferences?

One of the perks of a career in the sciences is the expectation to attend conferences and symposiums. Though I am sure it would behoove you to attend certain national conferences in your field, international conferences allow for vibrant and exotic travel experiences that local, obligatory conferences will likely not provide. To illustrate, large national conferences such as the American Psychological Association annual meeting undoubtedly draw an international audience, yet your experience will not be the same as being the international attendee, immersing yourself in the culture and diverse perspectives on science.

View of Taipei, Taiwan from the Taipei 101 building

View of Taipei, Taiwan the the Taipei 101 building

Take Home Message

Attending international conferences gives you the chance to utilize your occupation as a scientist by taking full advantage of traveling opportunities. Doing this will allow you to engage with the global science and non-science community in person, thus organically gaining perspective through experiencing other cultures. And beyond networking with internationals, you can develop your presentation skills by challenging yourself to effectively generalize your research to an international audience.