Friday, April 26, 2019

Working in a Winter Wonderland: My Internship in Athens

When I first heard about the internship offered at the Canadian Institute in Greece I couldn’t believe what an incredible opportunity the position was, and I knew I had to apply. However, it wasn’t until I had been accepted and embarked on my journey to Athens that I discovered how truly incredible this internship was. As an upper-year Classics and Medieval Studies student, the opportunity to enhance my professional skills, while gaining archival experience internationally was enticing enough, but the prospect of living twenty minutes away from the acropolis was inconceivable.

Throughout my internship I was able to discover the behind the scenes work that is involved in creating and maintaining an archive, while also learning what it takes to run a small-scale institute. As a result, I have become quite the small-scale archivist at the Canadian Institute. During my three months at the Institute, I was tasked with organising, digitising, and archiving a numerous amount of documents regarding the Institute's involvement with fieldwork as well as their own administrative documents. Despite the sometimes tedious nature of scanning and reorganising the documents, it was rewarding to bring order to the chaos. 
Outside of working at the Institute, I spent much of my time exploring the numerous museums and archaeological sites throughout the city. Athens was a wonderful place to spend the majority of my three months in, despite sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of activities, both touristy and non-touristy, that were available in a single city!  My excursions to the ancient agoras and the acropolis offered a glimpse into what life would have looked like in antiquity, while my visits to the National Archaeological Museum provided a new perspective on artefacts I had studied. The ability to examine a statue in the flesh instead of simply in a photograph allowed me to form new interpretations as more details come forward.

Another highlight of Athens, of course, was sampling the delicious cuisine. I've enjoyed the food so much that on multiple occasions my friends from the American School as well as some of my roommates and I have tried our hands at making some of our favourite dishes. The attempts at making fried zucchini balls, baking and gutting a whole fish, and replicating various salads were completed with much success. (They are not quite as good as what the tavernas serve, but they are getting closer each time!)
Beyond Athens I visited Mykonos, Aegina, Mycenae, Nafplio, Delphi, Sounion, and Arachova, to name a few. Throughout my travels, I was constantly floored by the beauty of Greece. All of the blue skies and wildflowers seemed to make every site or temple much more magical as every site felt like I was walking through a painting. One of my favourite places where I was left speechless by Greece's natural beauty was when I visited Mycenae and was able to view the surrounding plains, while being surrounded by the mountains. Even though there was a hoard of tourists all around I felt an extreme sense of peace up there, and I can definitely see why the Mycenaeans chose that location.

As I reflect on the past three months I am filled with so much happiness at the memories and friends I made during this time. I have felt my professional skills grow as I became increasingly confident in updating the archives. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I was given, and how much it has enhanced my learning as a young academic and a world traveller. I look forward to returning one day, but will continue to fondly remember my experiences here through my memories, new friends, and delicious recipes.

Moira Scully
University of Waterloo intern, winter-spring 2019

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