This blog post is written by Ivana Frisa. Ivana is a third-year literature Ph.D. student at the University of Florida, and she is also an Associate Editor of Communications at Spanish and Portuguese Review (SPR). Last year, she attended her first conference at the 104th AATSP Annual Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she also competed in and presented her academic paper titled: “El polirritmo de la naturaleza cubana en Sab de Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda”. Based on her experience in San Juan, below Ivana shares some advice she hopes graduate students who are traveling to the conference in Salamanca, Spain will find useful and valuable.
For those graduate students presenting their academic paper for the first time: I highly advise you to not attend your presentation day on an empty stomach. From previous experience, I can assure you that eating before presenting your project, can make a positive impact on your performance that day, because ingesting food will enhance alertness and composure. Now, for those who prefer something lighter, a fruit smoothie or juice will also do the trick. I remember I had some coffee and a croissant!
- Wear Professional Attire
Image and first impressions are important. Many of us graduate students may have been encouraged and advised to present ourselves professionally. For each presentation, keynote address, or event, my advice is to wear an outfit that makes you feel confident and happy, however, aim for comfort. I can assure you that you will be attending other presentations, talks, and networking opportunities, which means a lot of busy walking may be on your schedule. You can always take a pair of comfortable shoes with you (bring a backpack). For ladies who love heels: I ended up with blisters and swollen feet that night!
- Arrive extra early
Salamanca is a busy city, and if this is your first time visiting, you may want to arrive at least 2 hours prior to your presentation and any other event. This will not only reduce stress-related feelings, but it will allow you to become familiar with the area. Last year, I downloaded the app on my phone and, studying the map, was a useful tool for me as I visualized the different locations, which ultimately helped me to prepare for each event I attended.
- Bring your laptop
Given that Spain operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz, you should buy a universal adaptor/cable for your computer and bring it on the day of your presentation. You never know if the necessary materials will be available or provided to you. For detailed information, look at AATSP’s travel FAQ.
In addition, I advise you to save your presentation materials everywhere, including locally on your desktop, Google Drive, and maybe even a separate flash drive. This will not only save you time, but will give you peace of mind. Sometimes, you may have to rescue another grad student as I remember one whose laptop was not working, but I was there to assist him with mine 🙂
Additional Source: Electrical Safety First, https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guidance/advice-for-you/when-travelling/travel-adaptor-for-spain/
- Meet your fellow grad students
Aim to mingle with other grad students! One of the most exciting aspects of these conferences is to meet students from other universities and to connect with them later, even during the conference. After each presentation or session is over, try introducing yourself to at least three other people and start mingling! I was lucky enough to have already been working with my SPR Managing Editor of Communications, Lillian Jones, and even fortunate to meet her in-person on the day of my presentation!
I wish you a wonderful experience and best learning experience,
SPR, Associate Editor of Communications