I feel like a cow on pasture, happy as a lark. Am on my way westward bound; first train to Copenhagen and then a flight to Aberdeen in Scotland! Why am I so happy? Well, first of all I have been home with the kids for roughly a month, on paternal leave, and it feel good to do some grown-up things for a change – like going to a conference. (And, yes, I love my kids, etc., etc., but it will be good to do something else for a few days). Secondly, I will meet a lot of colleagues from around the world, chitchat about bacteria and life, swing a jug of ale (or two) and enjoy the scenic interior of a conference venue.
The last part is true – if you go visit an exotic place for a conference, chances are that you mainly will spend your time in the hotel and in the conference venue. Long hallways with carpets, English breakfast and a touch of bland dullness. This particular conference series – Campylobacter, Helicobacter and Related Organisms, CHRO – is a biannual thing. Usually, the hosting countries are chosen so that it is Europe every second time, and US/rest of the world the other times. My first CHRO conference was in Freiburg, southern Germany in 2001, and then I went to Aarhus in Denmark in 2003, and Rotterdam in 2009. This means I skipped Australia in 2005, Japan in 2007 and Vancouver in 2011. Am I stupid or what?
This time I will be chairman in a session, which bespoke of a transition of states since that first conference in Germany. I can still remember it. It was my first conference what so ever, I had no clue what to expect. Sure as hell I did not expect to give a talk in front of 500+ people in the biggest session. Rock star stage and bright lights. I was the only one that used old-fashioned OH-slides… But it was good, I got a kick-start in Campylobacter research and many of the contacts I got there and then are with me still. And that is what makes conferences a great place to be: you learn the latest advancements in your field, and you make friends. And friends are good to have in science. And in life.
Admittedly, conferences are also places where people get too drunk, end up in the wrong bed and doing other bad deeds. But let’s not worry about that now. Aberdeen here we come!