Monday, May 27, 2013

Det finns inga dåliga väder, bara dåliga kläder - Take 2

If you have been following my blog, you may know of my packing panic about 9 months ago when I was preparing to move to Jordan. This time around I need to prepare even more carefully, because I need to have the right equipment to maneuver through romantic dates in Germany, archaeological excavation sites in Israel, professional meetings in Jordan, music festivals in Sweden and Iceland, and a potential weekend in France (yes, I may be adding another country, which would top it off at 7 countries I will be in this summer). I am starting with the most important and most straightforward part of my summer packing list: my archaeology equipment. I have searched numerous boards and asked for advice from my dig director, Dr. Eric Cline, and past excavation participants, and have gradually started collecting the items that I need. So here they are:

Marshalltown trowel - The classic archaeology tool, that was made iconic by Kent Flannery's essay, "The Golden Marshalltown", which was one of the most memorable readings from my Introduction to Archaeology class.

Steel-toed shoes - As an archaeologist, you want shoes that are lightweight but with a hard toe, because apparently there is a risk with normal sneakers that you have your foot cut open by falling objects. Better not take that risk! Being in northern Israel in 2013 is dangerous enough.

Wide-brimmed hat - No one wants a melanoma on their face, let alone a sunburn. That's where putting on your archaeology hat comes in handy! I got mine at Eastern Market, a large open-air market in Washington, DC for $15. It provides nice sun cover but also stays cool since it has a knit brim. Added bonus: it will still look good after being stuffed into a bursting suitcase. This one is from C.C. Exclusives but it's easy to find others. Make sure to pair it with your bug-eye sunglasses. ;)

Bandanas - If the hat is too hot or bothersome, bandanas are there to save the day! I got these for $1 each at Walmart and you can wear them EIGHT DIFFERENT WAYS and even more if you are more creative. This way you can also add some color and flair to your outfit and be a stylish archaeologist.

Gatorade Powder - You are going to get REALLY thirsty digging in those trenches all day in the obscene heat of Israeli summer so might as well make your water superwater to keep your energy up - with the wonderfully magical Gatorade Powder. A 51 Oz container costs $8.38 at Walmart and will be enough for three weeks if you only put 1-2 scoops of it in your water bottle every morning. Bring on those electrolytes!

Finally, in regards to actual clothing, it is recommended that you wear light-colored, light-weight materials that you don't care too much about, since soil can leave some serious stains. Since you might be on your knees digging, you might like to have pants that cover those knees. Pants with lots of pockets are really useful, since you may need to use a variety of tools over the course of the day to unearth and record your findings. Think again before you throw out those old T-shirts you never wear anymore - you might as well wear them digging and throw them out at the end of the summer.

SO. EXCITED. YOU. HAVE. NO. IDEA! In the meantime I've stayed busy with finishing up my internship at the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (check out their brand new beautiful website that I helped put together), earning money for my trip by babysitting and clocking in hours at the Center for International Science and Technology Policy, and arranging important meetings with influential people who are actually interested in my thesis topic. Wish me luck in garnering the support of these people I so admire in the field of environmental security that I now intend to venture into!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Happiness has found me

"Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you."
― حافظ

Since I have gone to study abroad, I've had the happiest time of my life. I feel like I have been inspired to be a better person and that has inspired the world to be better to me, if that makes any sense (I've been warming up to the idea of karma lately). Before I went to Jordan I felt uncertain of myself. I lacked confidence and the energy that contentment gives you, and I felt a bit lost about where I was going in life. Now I have managed to excel academically in six classes, fulfill my duties at a part-time job and an internship, develop my star babysitting skills, volunteer at homeless shelters and soup kitchens on the weekends, maintain an incredibly strong and loving long-distance relationship , and spend quality time with family and friends. I don't think that would have been possible without the confidence that my time in Jordan inspired in me, and that confidence shaped the actions that generated the contentment that provided this immense energy that made all of this possible! Thanks to all my accomplishments, I am able to fuel that happiness with more travel, and I am so excited and grateful to spend this summer in five different countries, two of which are Israel and Jordan.

I was recently awarded the Rogers Excavation and Survey Scholarship from the Capital Archaeological Institute at the George Washington University and a Fellowship from the American Schools for Oriental Research, making it possible for me to make this dream come true and return to the region. This time I will be discovering the region not through the lens of the tourist, as I did as a child, or as an American college student, as I did this past fall, but as an archaeologist. I will be volunteering on the excavation at Tel Kabri in Western Galilee, to unearth a 3,500 years-old Canaanite Palace. I expect that this experience will reveal new and exciting sides to the political and cultural dynamics in the Middle East. Over the next month I will be blogging about my upcoming preparations for the excavation so that this blog can be a resource for future aspiring archaeologists as well.

When I left Jordan I felt like I had gotten what I wanted out of my study abroad experience: I had befriended locals, familiarized myself with the local dialect, and been immersed in Jordanian culture. I had experienced the country from an internal and subjective rather than external and objective perspective. However, during my time there I had also noticed the problems that exist in the country, and by the time I left, my head was already brimming with possible solutions. That is why I am so grateful to have a chance to go back, and look into some of those solutions - to give back to the society that changed my life.

Therefore, following the excavation I will be traveling to Jordan for a few days, and hopefully the West Bank, to do some research for my potential senior thesis, which will focus on the obstacles to environmental advocacy in the Middle East. I am so excited to go back and I doubt it will be the last time I return! I hope you continue to follow me on this journey and learn along with me about archaeology, environmental advocacy, and traveling in the irresistibly alluring (at least in my opinion) Middle East.