The GSA conference was a good time. I think we all thought so. Honestly when we set off, I didn't know what I had gotten myself into. I was a little miffed that the attendance ticket alone was $150, because I'm just a broke college student. After we got to the convention center, however, I got quite a bit less miffed. I was handed what looked like a text-book from the man behind the counter and I asked Jen what it was. "The itinerary," she said. I was shocked, to say the least.
Things definitely started looking up after this, because I finally felt like my money was well spent, and I even felt stupid for ever having thought otherwise. We spent the first and second days going to lectures and the beer garden which followed, and we learned so much our heads nearly burst.
Something that surprised me both about GSA and our own group was the camaraderie that pervaded everything. It was clear from jokes people made from the podium and from conversations I accidentally dropped eaves on that GSA is a tight-knit community, everyone knows someone, and everyone respects each other. Our own group definitely saw some friendships blossoming, and altogether we had a fantastic time together.
Aside from all the soft and gooey human interaction stuff, there was also science. There was science in abundance, and I don't think I've ever felt the strange combination of belonging and perplexity anywhere or anytime else in my life. The atmosphere of intellectualism was astounding, and the topics were often completely over my head. The second day I stayed most of the day in a room on arthropod paleontology, and I was fascinated by the cutting edge research and the specificity of the topics. One other thing I liked about GSA is that I learned I have interests in subjects I had no clue even existed.
It was truly worth $150, at least.