Am I On “Vacation”?

Working “holidays” and the double-bind of academia

Dr. Casey Lawrence
Reviewsday Tuesday

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Photo of the author in Zurich, 2023

Last week I was in Zürich, Switzerland for a small academic conference. Academics often travel during the summer holidays for conferences, where they present their current research and hear presentations from other scholars in their field.

The conference circuit is an essential part of academia. Many PhD programs consider delivering a certain number of conference papers a core part of their “professional development” curricula, because going to conferences is inherently built into academic culture — which you have to be a part of in order to have any chance at all surviving an extremely competitive industry.

So this time, Zürich! Last year, I was in Dublin. Before that, it was Newcastle, Trieste, Dublin again, Oxford, Toronto. Sometimes it’s hard to explain these trips to friends and family who aren’t in academia, especially when I’ve received a stipend or scholarship to help offset the cost of travel and accommodation.

“An expenses-paid vacation? Academics have it made!”

First of all, no. If you’re lucky enough to get travel funding, it never covers the entire cost of a conference trip. Some parts of it will be out-of-pocket, especially for an expensive destination.

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Dr. Casey Lawrence
Reviewsday Tuesday

Canadian author of three LGBT YA novels. PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Check out my lists for stories by genre/type.