An Englishman Abroad

Hi y’all,

I’m David, a graduate student from Cambridge in the UK and over the next few days, as an Englishman in America, I’m going to try and give my impressions of the conference and American culture at large! I guess my inaugural guest blog post should be about my first impressions and expectations.
As far as first impressions go, the foremost in my mind is: cold. The UK gets cold, but we are talking about some serious wind chill here! Wide boulevards and head-high awnings do seem to create optimal wind-tunnel conditions. Despite the cold, people are pretty friendly and I must admit it makes me feel a bit like a sarcastic, sullen Brit!
This was perfectly exemplified by our cab driver (a self-professed musician, poet and philosopher), who was happy to discuss a plethora of topics: sights in Philly, Neolithic edifices and the state of science and math education in the US. Is everyone equally happy to be drawn into a debate about science funding, education and access? It’s certainly something I’m aiming to explore!
Apart from discussions about federal science funding, one of the things I’m looking forward to is the food. I’ve already treated myself to a Pepperoni Stromboli (a kind of calzone for those unfamiliar with the product), chocked full of melted cheese! Out of innocent curiosity I also tried peanut butter-filled pretzels and quickly learned that these are not a breakfast time snack! I think culinary highlights will definitely accompany the Super Bowl tomorrow, I’ve heard rumours of a legendary seven-layered dip… watch this space…
I’ve just checked in at the conference and selected the talks I’d like to see today. This is not a game! There are talks, platforms, posters and symposia, a smörgåsbord of conference vernacular to learn. This is not my first conference, but the size and breadth of topic is way beyond anything I have experienced thus far! I’m going to need to develop a good conference strategy here, anyone got any tips?
I look forward to meeting a load of new people and learning a lot about biophysics… I’m going to be posting pictures every now and then (mostly of food probably) so feel free to follow my twitter feed @wearyourhead

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