Conference - annual or biannual meetings for academic discussions of a certain branch of professional field - is an essential part of professional research life in most fields. However, more casually speaking, conference is one of the first official academic event most graduate students join as part of their own professional discipline. Reflecting the wide spectrum of academia, each conference boasts truly iridescent facets of academia - from 1st year graduate student to big names of the field in their 70s or 80s.
For every graduate students (or undergraduates if they start research early on), the first conference is full of excitement and nervousness. I also remember my first international conference in hot summer of 2011 at Taipei, Taiwan for IROS. I presented my first research work on bioinspired robot in front of numerous robotics experts around the world (and I went there alone for some reason). I can still recall vivid feeling of the excitement and heart trembling nervousness in hot and humid summer days of Taipei, which in turn have guided me toward a professional research life since after.
As days in graduate study pile up, conference attendance becomes more like mundane events. Excitement on their own presentation or poster session starts to be shared with networking, other people's works, trend of the field, and so on. For me, this evolutionary process has been a great enjoyment. It was like, more dramatically speaking, walking from audience to the stage in play or concert. In first couple of conferences, I felt like being audience of big play or concert even though I presented something in oral or poster session. I couldn't understand all languages and information of vast range of talks and sessions, and nobody really knows me in the field yet (or more or less newbie). Watching famous people's flamboyant talks and active networkings accompanied by numerous handshakes and name-card tossing gave strong another-world-feeling. However, as my years in the field counts 1, 2, 3, and more years, I have gradually walked onto the stage. Famous people's talks are not anymore sound like flamboyant but informative. I can swim through streams of languages and information rather than spinning in turbulence of ignorance. People start to recognize and know me as like I start to know them, and hand-shakig and name-card tossing become my part of act too.
The most remarkable part of our lives is that we all change and grow in many sense. In recent conferences, I saw many early year graduate students with audience's eye - reminiscence of all researchers' early days. It is always grateful to tell them to walk into conference, on the stage.