Last week the CIEE International Education Conference took place in my hometown. I went to the CIEE conference in Philly a few years ago, and I found it enjoyable enough. At first I thought it was going to be great to have a conference at home– an opportunity for further education in my field, a chance to see some people I don’t often see (yes, I do enjoy seeing colleagues I don’t often get to see), and the ability to come home to my spouse and dogs and sleep in my own bed? Sounded great! And in many ways, it has been. But it’s difficult too. While I am happy to be able to see my family in the evenings, I’ve definitely felt an inner tension between obligations to my family– to spend time with them– and conference social events in the evenings. It’s almost easier to be in a different city– at least then one can be entirely in the “work” world and not try to live in two worlds at once.
Despite that tension, it was a pretty good conference. I went to a few interesting sessions– my favorite one was about creating community amongst study abroad students on a certain program before departure, which I’ve been trying to do via Facebook for my France students. It seems to be working pretty well anyway, but I picked up some good tips at that session that I think will help even more. I also got to see some colleagues that I don’t often see, most notably a colleague from the University of Limerick in Ireland. I like her a lot, so it was fun to be able to hang out a little bit!
Even though I find conferences exhausting, and the evening social engagements even more so, I did pretty well last about attending the many evening receptions. In addition to our office’s open house Wednesday afternoon, and a (very) brief stop at the conference opening reception, I went to a reception/dinner on Wednesday night that kept me out until 10pm. I went to the one our office hosted on Thursday night (because it was required!), but skipped the second one– after a late night the night before, I just didn’t feel up to doing two receptions in one night. (And I was in bed by 9pm!) Friday night I went to two receptions. A bonus was that all these receptions allowed me to visit some great places that I rarely (or never) get to in my own city– ours was at Brit’s, which is a place I do get to fairly frequently and like a lot. Another was at Solera, a really good Spanish restaurant, one was at Prohibition at the top of the Foshay Tower (I’d never been to the Foshay at all, let alone Prohibition, so that was cool), and one was at the lovely Guthrie theater, which I’ve been to many times but always enjoy. The one I skipped was at the Mill City Museum, also a really nice venue. But that night especially, there was no nicer venue than my home and my bed!
Now things are back to normal in the office, which feels weird. It’s also a short week, of course, due to Thanksgiving, so everyone seems pretty quiet and mellow. A lot of people are out of the office. A big change from the hustle and bustle of last week! The conference was exhausting, chaotic and yes, pretty fun for the most part. But I am ready for some quiet time.