Things I didn’t like
1. SBL Auckland is the first conference I’ve been to where meals are not included in the registration. I found the whole business of working out what I was going to eat where rather tedious and I didn’t really end up getting anything much better than I do at catered conferences. It also cut down on the networking opportunities because you more or less had to find someone to have a meal with rather than just sitting down at the same table with people and getting to know them. See my comment about the potential to be very lonely if you didn’t know anyone before you came. It was also a bit difficult to know how much to budget for meals.
I am sure that I understand why the US meetings don’t cater – the numbers are, I gather, horrific – but I wonder if catering might not be an option for the smaller international conferences. We certainly manage to do it for international university chaplains conferences which are a similar size to Auckland. Although Auckland might be unusually small. The one I went to in Vancouver gave us vouchers for meals that could be presented at the university’s eateries and if we wanted to spend more than the agreed amount at each meal, we had to pay the difference.
2. Leaving the questions to the end of a program unit. If five or six people present in a session, it’s very difficult to remember what you wanted to ask the first and second presenters, so they tend not to get questions. Perhaps this isn’t so bad for established researchers, but for grad students, getting some feedback from the audience is really very helpful. I was very glad that Harold Ellens decided to do questions at the end of each speaker in the unit I presented in.
3. Changing the order of speakers without notice (see a previous post)
Things I liked
1. The huge range of topics available.
2. The opportunity to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for ages and meet new people
3. The high level of organisation and the helpfulness of the SBL and Uni of Auckland staff
4. Beginning with the welcome from the Maori people
On the whole, a great experience. Pity I am not rich and my school is not rich, so I can’t manage to get to many of them. 😦