Here we are. Months of anticipation have finally culminated into a final week of preparing to leave for Artena, Italy. There has been lots of excitement surrounding the incredible views, architecture, and food I will experience, and especially about the knowledge I will gain while studying abroad. There are also some nerves sprinkled in there, naturally, about being away from home, language barriers, and meeting new people. Most of the preparation up to this point has been surrounding these general excitements and nerves. I’ve been learning about Italian culture and tourist destinations I’ll be visiting in Rome, reading about the town of Artena that I’ll be living and working in, as well as trying to learn Italian.
Now I’ve gotten down to the more detailed aspects of preparing to go, and the time has come to pack. Most students studying abroad or people in general going to Italy for the summer are packing everyday outfits to sightsee or attend class. While I’ll have to bring some sightseeing and relaxing clothing, for the most part I’ve had to think a little differently about what I’m packing. I will have no classes to attend inside a building; I’ll be outside in the sun, rain, and dirt with the excavation site as my classroom. Following some guidance from the professor who will be on-site and some research of my own, I’ve concluded that there are a few essentials:
- Steel-toe boots. These are a must-have on the excavation site. With the amount of tools we’ll be working with, ground we’ll be moving, and artifacts we may be uncovering, we’re going to want our feet to be protected. I’m in the process of breaking them in with hopes of avoiding blisters. Hiking socks are also important when it comes to making the boots comfortable. I’m also bringing a pair of sandals to change into once we get off site, and comfortable walking shoes.
- Long pants. Despite the sunny weather forecast, and the 90-degree heat, long pants seem to be the way to go. Between the brush that we’ll have to walk through, again, the sharp objects that we may be encountering, as well as the many hours a day of sun, having my legs covered seems to be the smartest decision. I’ve picked up some lightweight hiking pants that will hopefully be breathable and protective.
This brings me to my next point…
- Sun protection. With the amount of time I’ll be spending in the sun, protecting my skin is going to be the most important thing. In addition to long pants, I have some thin long sleeve shirts, a sun hat, and a bottle of sunscreen, which I’m sure I will have to replenish in the time that I am abroad.
- Italian phrasebook. While this one is not clothing related, it is just as important and will most likely experience just as much wear and tear throughout the upcoming weeks. I already know that assimilating into the language in Italy is not going to be the easiest experience. While I’ve gotten a head start on learning the language through Duolingo, being able to recognize basic words is one thing, and being able to converse with and understand native Italian speakers is another. I’m not quite sure how many English-speaking locals there will be in Artena or on site, as it’s a pretty small town and quite removed from Rome, so I’ve gotten a basic Italian phrasebook. Even if there are a lot of English speakers, I want to try to practice and learn the language as much as I can, so this will definitely be useful.
Packing for Artena has only added to the excitement of my first fieldwork experience. I’m looking forward to all that I will learn through living and working in Artena. In just a few days I will be saying arrivederci to my friends and family and buongiorno to an ancient Roman villa, some new faces, and an incredible experience!