We have just finished our first day in the field and the students are extremely excited for what comes next. To learn more about our students this year you can check out “Meet the Students” to read their blog profiles. Here is the first student blog: written by Madison and Safaa, to share their experiences at orientation in Athens, GA and traveling to Italy. Today was the first day of three weeks in the field where students will get hands-on experience of collecting information from archaeological human remains. We’re looking forward to the rest of the summer!
Getting into such an interesting and competitive program is pretty exciting, so arriving for orientation was slightly nerve-wracking. My stomach was in knots when I made it to Athens, GA, but I started to feel better as soon as I met my fellow REU participants, and when we went to group dinner I immediately felt like we were all long-time friends. All week we hung out and ate so much amazing, local food, and each night we would congregate in a hotel room and get to work writing about our projects. It made orientation for the program a breeze, and I value the closeness that we have cultivated from it!
During the week we learned about intricacies of the field, being culturally conscious abroad, presenting ourselves as scholars and how unique our program is; as REU participants, we are not field school students, but more like professionals in training. We also worked with our primary professors to create an independent project that draws on our academic strengths while also enriching our knowledge on parts of the Bioarchaeology of Mediterranean Colonies Project that we are learning more about.
While it has been slightly intense to conceptualize publishing a poster in an 8 week window, the clear instruction from the fantastic Dr. Kyle and Dr. Reitsema, along with the companionship from my fellow participants have been confidence boosting. We have all worked hard to have this amazing opportunity, and we can not wait to get to work in Sicily!
Our first leg of the journey to Sicily began with a shuttle from Athens to the airport in Atlanta. Once we arrived, we checked into our flight and checked our bags. From New York, we boarded our 8 hour-long flight to Rome, the longest leg of the trip. Luckily our flight had movies and games with which we could entertain ourselves in between naps and meals. From Rome, we landed in Palermo, Sicily and traveled by van to the town of Campofelice di Roccella.
Traveling internationally is not necessarily something to look forward to—it is long and exhausting—but ending up in a town as beautiful and scenic as Campofelice made it all worth it. Then the hardest part began—trying to stay awake for the remainder of the day to avoid jet lag! Luckily, the graduate student assistants, Katie and Eli, offered to show us around town to keep us from napping. This town is definitely the perfect setting to do work!
Safaa and Madison