Friday, December 30, 2022

A Bioarchaeologist's Life in a Classicist's World

I did not know what to expect moving to Greece for three months to do an internship. I was both excited and terrified as this was going to be the biggest adventure of my life. Being an Archaeology student, I have learned a lot about the fieldwork side of the discipline, but this experience was going to provide me with an opportunity to learn about the behind-the-scenes work involved in Archaeology. My internship at the CIG involved working with catalogues and collections of publications, sorting through boxes of a professor’s life’s work, hosting events, and revamping the social media accounts. I came into this experience wondering if I belonged in Greece and at the Institute because I do not study classics, but rather human remains, and I do not know Greek or much about the history of Greece. I was out of my element, but that is what made this internship that much more rewarding.

I am very fortunate that I had multiple chances to not only explore Athens, but see what else the country had to offer. Weekends provided opportunities to do smaller trips, such as a short ferry ride to the island of Aegina, or a road trip down to Kalamata during olive harvesting season. My greatest expedition while here was hopping on a plane to Santorini for a few days and getting to experience the island culture, take a catamaran cruise, and swim in the volcanic hot spring. During my time in Greece, I got to visit many sites and museums, try traditional Greek food, and make some friends who worked at the local coffee shops. As well, Friday afternoons were spent going to the street market around the corner from the Institute to pick up some local grapes and figs.

Visiting the Acropolis was obviously first on the list of things to do, and it was incredible seeing the structures that I have heard about my entire life. The Ancient Athenian Agora was mesmerizing as it was tucked away within the heart of the city despite its extraordinary size. Seeing how the modern and ancient cities are so interwoven is truly remarkable as you are surrounded with rich history everywhere you step. The archaeological excavations underneath the Acropolis Museum especially highlighted this for me. With so much to see in such proximity, it is impossible to run out of things to do in Greece. It was a busy three months balancing my internship, schoolwork, and experiencing Greece, but I made the most of my time and the opportunities before me.

What I was not expecting about coming to Greece was meeting a large network of people from all over the world that I became so close with. Between darts nights on Tuesdays, events at the CIG and different foreign archaeological schools, and roommates at the CIG apartment, I have made connections in Greece that are going to last long after returning home to Canada. I am thankful to have met so many people who have opened my eyes to the different opportunities that are out there for a young archaeologist finding her way. Between graduate programs, field and lab opportunities, and career paths, I have learned a great deal by taking a chance getting out of the classroom and immersing myself in the professional world. I eventually found my footing and have grown as a person because I was forced out of my comfort zone coming to Greece. I would highly recommend an opportunity like this to anyone who is trying to find their own footing in their academic career. The experience is invaluable and unforgettable, and I will forever be grateful for the Canadian Institute in Greece having me as a part of their team these past three months.

Sarah Bidinosti
Wilfrid Laurier University intern, autumn-winter 2022

Friday, December 16, 2022

Experiences in Athens

Familiar Signs of Athens- of the Institute, the Apartment, and the Red Lion

The last three months have passed quickly, working at the Institute and touring around Greece. As my time in Athens comes to a close, I would like to reflect on the different ventures that I experienced.

Being accepted into the intern position at the CIG, I was extremely excited, yet a little apprehensive. It was my first time travelling internationally, the first time away from my family for an extended period, lots of firsts. Arriving in Athens, it took about a week to settle in. The hustle and bustle of the city and craziness of the streets was both visibly and audibly evident, with mopeds and motor cycles weaving in and out of traffic, and always someone honking their horn! After walking from the apartment to the Institute for the first few days, I became acquainted with the atmosphere.

Drafts of Hellenistic Architecture by Dr. Frederick Winter Sorted by Chapter

At the Institute there was lots of work to be done for the Frederick E. Winter (FEW) Archive. The main task I was assigned included organizing and scanning the various notes and drafts that the Institute received from the Winter family. Organizing the items did not take long- it was the scanning that consumed most of my time. Page by page, I slowly made my way through the papers, keeping myself entertained by listening to music or podcasts. Looking back on all the work that I have completed during my time at the Institute, it is great to see the development of the FEW Archive and how it has taken shape.

View of the Acropolis from the Areopagus

With the open hours of the Institute being from nine until one, and my normal work hours from nine until two, afternoons were free to explore. I often found myself going for walks to the Acropolis and back or hiking up the Lykavitos hill. Having received a free entrance card for museums and archaeological sites from the Institute, many afternoons were filled with touring the local exhibits. My favourite museums that I visited were the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Museum of Cycladic Art.

The Lion Gate at Mycenae

During the weekend when there was more time for touring, I branched out from the city centre. I went out with the other intern and the fellow of the Institute and explored different areas. We went to Aegina for a beach day and floated in the sea. On the “ochi” day long weekend, we made a trip to Kalamata and toured the countryside visiting the Palace of Nestor. I also booked two guided tours, one went to Mycenae, Nafplio, and Epidaurus and the other to Delphi. At the Institute, working hours can be changed to accommodate plans during the week. So, I worked double hours one week, and took the next week off to visit with my parents and relatives in the Netherlands. Needless to say, my time in Greece has been full of travel and seeing new things.

Enjoying the Ambience of a Local Restaurant

One of the best things that goes hand in hand with travelling is the exposure to different food. I have grown to like the family style that most Greek restaurants serve their food in. Some of the best memories here were made in secluded Greek tavernas, enjoying the authentic music and food, just taking everything in. The foods that I thoroughly enjoyed were gyros, paidakia, dolmades, meatballs, and potatoes with tzatziki. Not only was the prepared food delicious, but also the fresh products that were for sale in the street markets. In particular, I appreciated the fresh olive oil, fruits, and vegetables that were grown by the locals.

Darts Night at the Red Lion

Working at the Institute, I became connected with the greater community of archaeologists in Athens. The main way that the different archaeological schools associate is through events. In particular, the Tuesday darts night linked a group of us mostly from the American, British, and Canadian schools. It was nice to meet students working in the field of classics and archaeology in a relaxed atmosphere and interesting to hear about research that they were conducting. Pairing this with some friendly competition in a game of darts, the evenings were enjoyable and great memories were made.

The opportunity to live in Athens and work at the Canadian Institute has been full of new experiences and lasting memories. I am thankful to have been welcomed into this community and for the work that I was able to accomplish during my three months here. Thank you for having me!

Aaron Westrik
University of Waterloo intern, autumn-winter 2022