Monday, September 05, 2005

A Coruna!

So I returned from the ECVP conference last weekend (27/8) and thought it was about time I filled you in on how it was. The whole trip was lots of fun. A Coruna is a really interesting city, mixing the heat of southern Spain with the rolling green hills of somewhere like Ireland or the Scottish Highlands. The city is positioned on a hammer-head peninsula with a beautiful golden beach down one neck of the peninsula, a harbour on the other side of the neck and a Roman lighthouse on the rocky head of the peninsula. The cool air off the Atlantic makes the climate really comfortable (if a little wet at times) although the temperature of the water makes for a rather surreal beach-going experience: beautiful sand, hot sun, and F*****g freezing water!

I stayed in university accommodation on the outskirts of the city which turned out to be a rather “interesting” experience. I knew the accommodation was somewhat out of the way but I didn’t expect it to be positioned on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere! The accommodation looked like a mini holiday camp with swimming pool, cafeteria, bar, gym, ping-pong table, laundry, bingo, boules, and about 300 old Spanish women! My first afternoon at the accommodation was very surreal as it slowly dawned on me that the place was over-run by Spanish old people (the accommodation was a retreat for old people from Barcelona and Madrid for whom the summer heat was too much), nobody spoke English (even the receptionist), I couldn’t identify any other conference attendees and I was stuck without any way out of this place. It was like a bad comedy horror film! Luckily I met a couple of people during dinner and started to realise that the accommodation actually had its upside: cheap dinner served with all the wine you could drink and fabulously fun people to share it with. The people I met during the conference were what made the whole trip worthwhile (there were intellectual rewards, I’ll get on to them later). The first two people I met were James and Lucie (so sorry if this isn’t how it is spelt, Lucie) from Calgary, Canada. They proved to be the life and soul of the entire trip, especially Lucie who is a mini-whirlwind of unstoppable fun. James and I hit it off immediately, probably due to our mutual interest in applied visual cognition and eye tracking as well as the fact that we are both originally from the North West of England and seem to share the humour and personality traits associated with that. Lucie is his fiance who originally came from the Dominican Republic. Together they form this wonderfully complimentary couple that are both hilarious, endlessly enthusiastic, and adoring. Thanks guys for making my trip so enjoyable.

Staying at the accommodation bred a sense of community that I’m sure would have been lacking if I had stayed at a hotel in the city. By a couple of days into the conference there was a stable group of ECVP people who all hung around together, socialised, toured the city and attended conference sessions. Here are some of the wonderful people I met and hope to meet again:

Nicholas Pugeault – Stirling University

Zsara Hussain – Hamilton university, Ontario

Karol Myszkowski – Max-Planck Institute, Saarbrucken

Baingio Pinna - Università di Sassari, Italy

Kamal (?) – Tokyo

1 comment:

James & Luchy said...

I share many of the same thoughts about the conference and the residence. The people that we met were the highlight of ECVP.