Monday, June 24, 2013

Poetic archaeologist or archaeological poet?

Today I just want to post two poems that describe my morning and my afternoon here at the Western Galilee Archaeological Field School.

The Destructive Science
Digging through the fingers
Of history in soil
In a blazing sun
And people blazing
With the promise of education
At the cost of physical exhaustion

Take caution
Archaeology is not the science
For the faint-hearted

(Photo Credit to Eric Cline)

Mediterranean moments
Waves slope in
Like time
On the heavy beaches
Of Human understanding
Bringing particles of hydrogen
From depths beyond imagination
Nature's creation not a gift to us
But a privilege
Of soaked, smooth silk
Running a marathon over our shoulders
Browned bellies
Slithering in and out of
The caressing kiss
Of that softly slapping sea

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Living in a dream

Travel often gives me a feeling of surrealism, as if my great fortune to see all these incredible places around the world cannot truly be real. The time differences and jet lag just add to the dreaminess of it all.

I have finally landed in this stunning and complicated land now called Israel. I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at 3am, with my favorite airline, Turkish Air. Three reasons why Turkish Air made my night flight so memorable this time:
  1.  Checked in my 12 kg of overweight baggage at no extra cost!
  2.  Served Turkish delight at take off and delicious freshly prepared Turkish food
  3. Had a great selection of music and movies (I watched Up In The Air and listened to Alicia Keys’ latest album)

Over the past few months I’ve been reading up on the history of the area I’ll be digging in (click to see map) and it makes me realize that right now I, by being here, am in the throes of history. The brilliant crashing waves of the present will soon leave only a memory written on foam on the sands of time…yes, I’m getting a bit too poetic. But that brings me to one of the greatest blessings of Israel (that probably upsets the Palestinians the most): The Mediterranean coastline.

After I landed I took a cab out to Tel Aviv, because there is no other way to get into the city from the airport on a Saturday morning. It was expensive, costing me 156 shekel (42.90 USD), but so worth it, because I would much rather sleep off my jet lag on the soft pristine sands of Tel Aviv’s beaches and soak up the early morning sun, than doze off in uncomfortable positions on airport chairs while breathing in that stale airport air. Thanks to my excavation companions, who remained at the airport, I could leave my luggage behind for my morning venture into Tel Aviv, and I felt so unbelievably free as the Mediterranean wind blew through through the open window and we whizzed by rows of palm trees, the blue sea glistening in the distance.

I quickly changed in the Sheraton and then dozed off. After that I had Tex-Mex food with an old friend from high school who is now in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and her boyfriend, who is also in the IDF. It’s fascinating and kind of scary to hear what it is like to be in the IDF. It makes me grateful for the fact that I can just focus on my education right now, and not worry too much about having to stand armed and ready at the border of a hostile neighbor.

After meeting my friends I got a shuttle from Savidor Train Station with my fellow archaeologists, numbering 50 people ranging from experienced to educated to beginner. Throughout the bus ride up to northern Israel, getting settled into our simple and clean rooms at Achziv Field School, and taking that blissful first swim in the Mediterranean on the beach right in front of the Field School, I found myself engaging in deep conversations on a number of topics with members of my diverse archaeology community here at Kabri 2013. I am so excited to get to know these people more, since my companions so far seem passionate about knowledge production and are marked by maturity and friendliness.

We got boxes upon boxes of pizza for dinner, which was made exciting by a visit from a praying mantis who courageously scaled our picnic table stacked with empty pizza boxes. 

After dinner we had orientation where I started getting REALLY excited about the dig. I’ll be digging in the area called “D-West” to find where this palace ends, if it does. We have no idea what we might find – we are entering uncharted territory in discovery of Kabri’s history! Funny note: during our orientation, a group of Israeli men were pumping house music out of their small rusty car. Instead of declaring it a nuisance, my orientation director used it as an example for how pumped up we should be for tomorrow. I love that attitude!

Now I need to get off to bed to sleep. I need to wake up at 4am for a tough first day of digging and I’ve barely slept at all for two days straight! Laila tov!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

If there is a will there is a way

A friend recently asked me why I manage to travel, so I thought I'd put together a little recipe for other full-time students like myself who constantly dream of traveling but find a lack of finances to be in the way. There are endless possibilities in the world for you to achieve your dreams, and even though it will require hard work, persistence, passion, and a great deal of ambition, there are so many people out there to help you reach your goals. Trust me, I wouldn't be traveling to 7 different countries this summer without the support of others and their generosity. But now on to the recipe: How to cook up a traveling adventure on your summer break:
A ton of hard work. 
I'm a very career-oriented person, as many members of my generation are. We are the generation who heard our high school teachers tell us that once we graduate there will be no jobs out there for us, and then saw revolutions erupt across the world with disillusionment over a failing world economy. I was determined not to put myself in that position. I've been working every summer since I got out of high school, jobs I got through countless emails to all my parents' friends and family and scouring numerous job sites. Most of the jobs I got was thanks to connections - so reach out to EVERYONE. Maybe they live and work in a different country, and you can get work experience and traveling in simultaenously that way. 
4 years of federal work-study or campus part-time jobs
For my first two years at college I tutored elementary school students on Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturdays. I started applying to jobs the moment I was admitted, using the campus career network and trying to personally ask around at university institutions. For my junior year, I wanted something else, so I looked at the campus network and found a part-time job at a university institution requiring me to work 10-15 hours a week. You don't need to waitress to get through college. If that isn't your thing (it wasn't mine) than there are plenty of children to be tutored or papers to be filed. Fortunately, my part-time job let me stay on after my Federal Work-study period ran out, agreeing to pay me out of their main account for May and June. They are hiring me next semester too, giving me job security I don't find off campus.
Outside career development
While I take 17 credits each semester and have a part-time job, I also take on a part-time internship. Yes, I'm crazy, and yes I never have time for lunch, but it works out. Usually I don't go for the large and well-known internships, that often require a more more difficult application process. I look for smaller firms and organizations, where I am given a lot of responsibility and sometimes even a stipend or honorarium. Since I'm usually the only intern there, I am working directly with my supervisors and benefit from their expertise. They also usually allow me to cover flexible hours, and sometimes let me work from home.


I managed to find an ad for a babysitter that fit my busy work schedule, and that led to more options for babysitting as my name was circulated among the mothers. Soon I found myself most Friday and Saturday nights being paid for watching TV for a few hours, while the baby slept. It gave me time to do some course readings and prevented me from spending valuable travel money on nights out with friends.


I try and put as much money as possible in my savings account. I also try cook at home and try to refrain from buying expensive gadgets or more clothes or fancy meals in order to afford trips that have a much greater chance of significantly changing and shaping my life.


Then I also apply to as many scholarships as I possibly can. To study abroad in Jordan I applied to five different scholarships, and I was rewarded one for $4,500 that required me to do a follow-up project. I'm currently writing up the project report for that. To go to Israel this summer I applied to four different scholarships, and I was awarded two of them, $1000 each. To go to Jordan this summer, I got accepted to a program to help me write a thesis that gives me a $500 research grant. There are lots of places to look for scholarships or funding, and they often require you to just post a couple of blog posts, write up a report when you return, send a personal letter to donors, or pledge to do something like a project or a thesis.


Flight deal sites
Another thing I do is subscribe to flight deal sites, and look for cheap deals, then cheap accommodation (couch surfing, airbnb), then cheap transportation. My parents taught me that. We would grab last-minute  flight tickets to unusual destinations like Cambodia and The Dominican Republic, and traveled around on local transportation or bikes rather than air conditioned buses. It requires some flexibility, but if you check these sites at the right time, you might get lucky.


Visit family and friends
This summer, I am going to places, like Sweden and Germany and Jordan, where I have relatives (or my boyfriend) and friends and I know they will feed me and accommodate me when I'm there.
Prolonged layovers

I got to see Istanbul in September AND December by having two 24-hr layovers, and I actually saw a lot! Iceland this summer will also just be a prolonged layover, but I'll have time to see the most famous natural sites and attend the Reykjavik Jazz Festival. Turkish Air and Iceland Air, as well as other national airlines, make deals like that to promote tourism in their country.

Finally, I follow a bunch of travel blogs that constantly inspire me. Here are a couple of good ones: (also check out her "Blogs I love")
And my favorite travel website has lots of tips:

Other options could also be volunteering abroad. I went to Ecuador for 5 weeks and had a life-changing experience, thanks to a relatively cheap local volunteer organization. I was completely immersed in the local culture since there weren't any other volunteers from any of my countries (Sweden, USA, Malta) and learned so much about what I am capable of as an individual.

There is also World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms (WWOOF), which I've always wanted to try but haven't had the chance to do. You basically offer to work on a farm, anywhere in the world, for a certain amount of time, in exchange for food and accommodation.
I hope this helps anyone who struggles with finding enough finances to fund their dreams! Anything is possible, you just have to approach it from different angles.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Here is a prose piece I wrote for a writing challenge about a month ago:

You could say I’m a third culture kid, but who knows at what points my different cultures articulate. Without the borders of a mono-cultural upbringing narrowing my mind, I find myself standing at the frontiers of global processes in every opinion that marches out of my brain. I am the member of a strange and beautiful community, a diverse diaspora of people who call the whole world their home, and easily feel alone. Yet we are a species who are comfortable with our loneliness; we even yearn for it. We are the people who reject the familiar and chase the most foreign because our inborn culture shock requires continuous clashes of cultures to bring out the best in us.

Not only do we find the familiar in unknown places, but in unknown individuals too. We find comfort and understanding in the person who has never touched the earth we’ve grown up on, or tasted our native tongue on their lips, but who suffered from the same internal dichotomy that emblazoned this modern malaise into our own multicultural hearts. Our differences are in essence our shared features: we were born with a world without windows or doors, raw products of globalization ready to take over the world, open to whatever idea or identity that fate will throw our way.

For us, home is not a base to which we return, but an emotion that we continually evoke and revoke as we travel through moments that challenge the limits that hold most people in a room where they wait for an identity to be handed to them in a small book. We scour outer landscapes to find the commonalities between the constantly diverging and merging traditions of our world – a world in which the foreign is familiar and the foreigner is our closest friend.

Monday, June 3, 2013

عمان - A love poem

I wrote this poem my first morning in Amman. It might have been too early to know the city, but even after four months of living there the message of the poem feels right. I can't believe I haven't posted it yet, but it takes courage for a poet to release their work. Poetry is such a personal expression, cutting right at our deepest emotions, without any flouncy sentence construction in the way. The poetic tradition in the Middle East is one of the strongest factors that first attracted me to learn Arabic. Anyway, I'll cut to the chase, and deliver to you my poem.

The city of circles
Whirls and swirls
In motion and emotion
Encroaching upon the past
We fled from and shooting
Into the haze of tomorrows
Chasing what was lost
In the cost
Of living
In the eye of the storm
Forever together
In the world alone