Between Work and Travel: My Experience with Studying While Abroad

Although it often feels as if I am on a long summer vacation, each day I am hit with the realization that I am in Europe for school. This is not bothersome, however, because I absolutely love my field and the information I am studying. I am thoroughly enjoying learning more about archaeological field techniques while on the land of my ancestors and one of my favorite countries, Romania.  

As I am solely participating in the excavation portion of the field school, I do not typically have assignments outside of the 40 hours I work in the trenches. It is practically as if I am working a full-time job every weekday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. While at the field I work with a partner to excavate complete or semi-complete skeletons. This is a lengthy process which takes about one or two weeks in order to properly find, map, catalog, and pull the skeletal remains. I have thus far excavated one juvenile skeleton and am currently working on my second.

Out of respect, I am not allowed to attach a picture of my work, the trenches, or the remains. However, I have attached an image of the view I have outside of my trenches. I greatly appreciate this view during my breaks and lunch hour.  

I am very grateful to be partaking in a program which allows me multitudes of free time while abroad. Unlike the participants of the lab program, I do not have homework and must only concern myself with my work hours. On weekdays I return to the hotel around 5:00 PM to which I have about two hours to prepare for dinner. By 8:00 PM I am free to do as I please. With this time, I typically socialize with friends, call home to my family, watch a movie, or take a walk with others around the neighborhood.

On the first two weekends, we took mandatory fieldtrips. This was entertaining as I was able to explore more of the Harghita county and learn of its history. I feel that I have been able to piece together more of Romanian history from these fieldtrips. The Rupea fortress was my favorite stop as I learned more about Dacian history and its late connections with Roman occupation and war. I am very excited about the third weekend as this will be our only weekend designated purely to free time. I intend on visiting the medieval city of Sighisoara with a group of friends.

Overall, I am lucky to be in an abroad program which makes it very easy to balance work with travels. I am able to learn necessary excavation skills while feeling as if I am vacationing through Transylvania.

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