So we know in our other posts we briefly mention our month away living in another country, but today we wanted to talk more about that and what we did there, and all that jazz!
Kathleen and I decided last year that we wanted to get more working experience with our anthropology degree. We emailed professors trying to find sites in Canada that were more affordable and really could not find anything that interested us. We heard from one professor that she was taking anthropology majors to Italy to get some cultural anthropology experience, and we attended that meeting, but the professor was super boring and Kathleen was road tripping (see other article!) around that time so it wouldn’t have worked out. I had even debated going myself feeling desperate for any sort of experience, but then Kathleen mentioned looking up archaeological sites online that seemed to be promising! After finding a reliable website, we decided on Pompeii at the scavi (ruins)!
Our month was one of the best things that ever happened to me! We lived with an Italian family and had lots of parties with them, and got to know them really well regardless of the language barrier. We lived with 5 other people in a basement suite and although we could drive each other crazy, we did everything together and had a lot of fun getting to know people around the world. One time we were grocery shopping and we would say something with our Canadian accent and they would say the same word with their British, Scottish, and American accents and we would stop and be like “Wait, how did you just say that” then get in debates about who was wrong. We travelled around Italy together on weekends, and worked together during the week. We had family meals every night and we all knew when to hang out by ourselves so to not drive everyone crazy!
The work we did in Pompeii was also very cool. We had a very strict supervisor, but I felt like I learned a lot. Our artifacts came from a bathhouse within the scavi, and for the first few days of the trip, we would wash the pottery and let it dry. We would have to weigh it, date it, mark it down with a number and try to figure out what kind of a vessel it was. Was it used for cooking, transporting oils… the list goes way, way on! Also, we would have to weigh it, describe it in Italian, and then they would get photographed and drawn later. The pottery was very cool and some pieces could be put together to make up a whole side of a pot!
I like to think I’m pretty used to travelling to new places, however, I didn’t really expect to experience so much culture shock in that month! Something so simple as finding taco seasoning became a guessing game, and the people who ran our dig worked on Italy time (aka being late means nothing). It was super interesting to compare what was expected of us in Canada, versus expected in Italy. Italians have an interesting nightlife, where all the stores and shops stay open until midnight or 1 am on Friday. Saturday, and Sunday. People dress up and spend most of the night hanging out with their friends, dancing, playing.and of course, trying to get the attention of the opposite sex. Plazas and town squares really facilitate these interactions, and its something I miss a lot about Italy! There is no designated meeting place in Canada. Young people meet in coffee shops or bars,which in themselves facilitate interesting interactions, they are just not as universal.
Definitely a key component of this experience was knowing when to take alone time. It’s important to remember that we all need some time to ourselves! In the house we all took alone time after our day of work, sat on the couch if we wanted and cooked meals together if we wanted. If you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) as I do, it can be EXTRA hard to find the time you need for yourself, since there is always something going on! As long as you recognize that the party is not going to take off without you, you might be able to charge your batteries a bit! Cook some meals with your friends after and you’ll jump right back into the fun!
– Erin and Kathleen or Kathleen and Erin