You think that when you go study abroad to a new country you’ll be completely lost. You think that you will be limited as to how many monuments you’ll see because you’re a tourist. All of that is completely untrue. Why?
Well first, your classmates are either just as clueless or have been abroad before and can help you with tips to get around! Last week was my first week of excavating EVER (I know right? I’m an anthropology major). It is really hard work. In Artena, Italy, I learned how to pickaxe, shovel, wheel barrow, scrape ruins, and to ALWAYS keep the sunscreen handy. Yes, I sweated a lot. Yeah, I was sore the whole week. But the feeling of being able to bring ruins back to life is addicting. It gives me a sense of purpose. There’s this girl in our small group of 5 who has done this Artena Excavation program before and has come back a 2nd year because she loved it so much. She helped the rest of us by giving us great advice such as the correct posture to pickaxe so that your back doesn’t hurt or what places are good to eat at around Artena.
Second, you can explore by yourself and not get lost in Italy. Mostly everyone speaks English at least a little bit. This past weekend, my group and I went to Rome by train, which is about 40 minutes away. All I have to say is: WOW. Anyone would be able to enjoy that city. Because I’m a total nerd of an archaeologist, I explored at least 12 monuments in one day by foot, spanning across half of Rome, including the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. On Sunday I went to Vatican City to see the Pope and to hear his blessing, which was an amazing experience! Whether you’re religious or not, it’s truly something you should see. Afterwards, we ventured into St. Peter’s Basilica, where Michelangelo’s Pieta is housed. What a beautiful church full of history! But beware, don’t wear shorts or tank tops or they won’t let you in! This was a moment of my life when I reflected on how cultures can be very different from ours but you must respect them. In this case it would pertain to Italian Catholics.
Not into ruins? That’s okay. The food is also amazing in both Rome and Artena. Italians eat appetizers, the first course of pasta, the second course of meat, and dessert. The hotel in Artena feeds me well, not to mention they have white wine and cappuccinos. Yum!
But let’s get back to archaeology, shall we? I have been working with French archaeologists this week. We have been digging a trench next to an ancient wall so that we can see where it leads and to be able to see the layers of dirt in order to date the wall and the artifacts that were found. So far, I found lots of pot shards and a few small bones! I don’t know what bones they are but it was such an awesome find. I feel much more comfortable about digging and I have been improving my French, which is very important for my future career as an archaeologist. I can’t wait to see what is in store for me next week! Ciao!