I am writing this blog while simultaneously unpacking my suitcase from one of the most eventful weekends of my Princeton career. Where did I go, you ask? Well, this weekend I flew to Las Vegas, Nevada, where I presented a research poster at the annual conference for the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics!
Traveling to attend academic conferences is one of the many perks of being a researcher, and student researchers are no exception. These conferences allow you to expand your understanding of your field or related fields and network with people from around the world. While many students conduct research during their time at Princeton, however, the opportunity to attend and present at an academic conference seems almost illusory. If hectic class schedules and large conference registration fees aren’t enough of a deterrent, the fear of being inadequate/unprepared can quell even the most hopeful Princetonians from submitting their research abstracts to conference committees.
This summer, in the unlikely sleepy town of Selianitika, Greece, I had an unforgettable immersive learning experience. I applied to the Paideia Institute’s Living Greek in Greece program, devoted to immersion in Ancient Greek, at the urging of a friend. It would be perspective-changing, she said. Instead of running between classes and juggling ten different assignments at once, I would have one task–to grow comfortable with Ancient Greek–and an incredible amount of free time.
It was a perspective-changing shift from my Princeton experience. I often feel limited by the lack of time available to fully experience the overwhelming material in my classes on campus. Beyond my Indo-European linguistics class, I want to browse through the Classics section of the library to see what I can find. In my computer science course, I want to do the optional exercises and play around with code. But independent exploration and extra-curricular learning can be hard to make time for, and I often end up working from one assignment to the next. Breadth and depth are challenging to achieve together.