Student Reflections on Studying Abroad
In June I went to Italy. This trip was a trip of many firsts and also a great personal test for me. Having never traveled outside the states by myself and never been to Europe, the trip was daunting. It also didn't help that I didn't speak a word of Italian. But I managed to survive and even grow as an individual. I was there as part of the 2012 excavation season of the roman bath in the Carsulae Archaeological Park. While there, I was fortunate enough to see the rest of the park, which was a very cool place. I dug up part of the bath, got to know some awesome people from around the world as well as many of the locals, and participate in some of their festivals.
I also traveled around Italy and saw some amazing things. I spent time in Rome and felt an amazing connection to the Classics I had been studying since I arrived at Iowa. After seeing the Ara Pacis, the Pantheon, and numerous references to Romulus, Remus, the She-Wolf that raised them, along with other mythological tales, my love for my Ancient Civilizations Major was reaffirmed. This reminded me why Ancient Civilizations and Classics are so important to study; many people believe Classics and Ancient Civ are all stories, myths, and fables, but they aren't. They are stories apart of history and this culture. They stand side by side with the modern day world and they demand attention. The photo above is me at the top of the dome of Santa Maria Del Fiore. I play a lot of Assassin's Creed and in the 2nd game you can climb this church. My brother had actually climbed it a couple of years ago and kept picking on me that I had only done it the game so I vowed that I needed to do it too. So this is me accomplishing a life goal.
My study abroad experience was at the 2012 archaeological field school in Gangivecchio, Sicily. Because of Sicily’s strategic place in the Mediterranean, its history is long and complex. The Greeks, Romans, and Carthaginians all passed through, leaving traces at multiple archaeological sites. Our site was a huge sloped field behind a medieval Benedictine monastery. By day we worked with Italian archaeologists excavating what was perhaps a Roman villa or farm house. After 5 weeks our dig clothes were unrecognizably dirty, we were pro’s at paperwork, and we had washed carts and carts of pottery shards! On the weekends we were able to take day trips to other archaeological sites in the area. We climbed the hills to see the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, explored the nearby museums in Polizzi and Gangi, and stumbled through the ruins of the Greek site at Himera.
The experience was fantastic. Field school is the best way to dive into archaeology, and working one on one with professionals is the best way to learn. I encourage anyone interested in archaeology or Classical studies to take a field school, especially in Sicily!