Welcome to St. Louis!

February 20, 2013

By Ryan Saale

It’s a pleasure to introduce Ryan Saale, Local Arrangements Team communications chair for the 2013 NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo in St. Louis, Missouri. Ryan will provide you with an insider’s look into the city, what it has to offer, and other tips to help you plan for your visit in May. Follow the blog to hear his stories, gain insight, and post questions.

Ryan SaaleHello international educators! We are excited to welcome you to St. Louis, Missouri for NAFSA’s annual conference. As a St. Louis native, it is a great honor and pleasure to share insight and knowledge about my hometown as you begin planning your trip.

The Basics

Founded in 1764, St. Louis has a rich history as a great U.S. city. Our city sits in the heart of the Midwest at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, with a population of more than 2.8 million residents. The city was built around river trade, and this history can be relived in works by Mark Twain (a Missourian) or experienced through a visit to the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.

It’s common for St. Louisans to note that our city is a “big” small town, or a “small” big city. Either way you look at it, St. Louis is an accessible, friendly place to visit, with great culture, food, and nightlife. While St. Louis is heavily influenced by its central location with traditional Midwestern sensibilities, it also draws on influences of the eastern and southern regions of the United States as well.

Lay of the Land

From bohemian to modern, upscale to historic, St. Louis is a city of neighborhoods. While here you’ll want to check out the following areas: the Central West End (boutiques, restaurants, and nightlife), Grand Center (art galleries, symphony, and theatre), and Forest Park , one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Of course, downtown St. Louis is where you will be spending a lot of time during the conference, with its many sights, restaurants, history, and baseball (Go Cardinals !). All of these areas are accessible by the light rail system, MetroLink.

Planning your Trip Here

The annual conference falls during a wonderful time of the year in St. Louis. The weather is fantastic in May and June. Overall temperatures will be pleasantly warm ranging from 65 ° -75 ° F (18 ° -24 ° C). It is advisable to pack a light jacket and umbrella for occasional rain. As there are many things to experience while in town, I recommend you visit Explore St. Louis, the site c reated by the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission. This is a great place to begin researching and planning your to-do list.

Fun Facts

  • St. Louis is one of only three cities in the United States to host the Summer Olympics (1904).
  • The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis introduced the ice cream cone and iced tea to the world, and hot dogs and hamburgers were popularized at the event.
  • St. Louis is home to eight Fortune 500 companies, and global powerhouse Anheuser-Busch. (The brewery tour is highly recommended.)
  • St. Louis is known as “The Gateway to the West” and the “Home of the Blues.” (In fact, the National Blues Museum is opening here in 2014.)
  • The tallest monument built in the United States, the Gateway Arch, is 630 feet tall.
  • St. Louis boasts more major, free tourist attractions than anywhere in the United States outside of the nation's capital.

Ryan Saale is the Local Arrangements Committee (LAT) communications chair for NAFSA’s 2013 Annual Conference & Expo. Ryan is a St. Louis native who spent time living, studying, and working abroad in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain, and recently completely his master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis. He began his career in international education in 2009 after working in corporate communications for five years, both in St. Louis and Santiago, Chile. Ryan is assistant director of international affairs at Fontbonne University where he is responsible for all international student recruitment and global outreach initiatives.