I’m writing this post from Melbourne, Australia, where I’m attending ICER 2016. This is my second ICER, and it’s been a great experience. However, this post isn’t about ICER, or at least it’s not directly about the conference. Before I arrived in Melbourne for ICER, I spent a week in Auckland, New Zealand. The combination of the dates for ICER and for our first quarter this year meant that I was going to have to miss the entire first week of classes to attend the conference. So I decided to use the last of my summer break to extend the trip. I knew some people in Auckland, and I made that my first destination.

What surprised me was how much more I looked forward to the Auckland part of the trip than the Melbourne part of the trip. At first glance it doesn’t make any sense because both are lovely cities with plenty of things to see and do. The gap in my enthusiasm continued until I arrived in Melbourne when I finally realized what was happening. On the first night I went out to dinner with an American colleague I only see at conferences. On the second night I went out to dinner with two collaborators who live in Melbourne but whom I wasn’t expecting to see much because they’re involved in ICER organization. By the end of the second night I was as happy to be in Melbourne as I had been to be in Auckland. And the answer to the gap was easy: for me visits to cities are mostly about the people. Yes, I like to see and do things in new places. But mostly I enjoy doing those things with people I like and with whom I want to spend time.

Realizing this has made me all the more grateful to have so many wonderful colleagues and collaborators in various places around the world. Experiencing their home cities with them is one of the joys of my life.