Drum roll please….
Schela Cladovei in Romania!
I know, what you’re thinking, ‘Romania!?!’ And yes, it’s definitely outside of my wheelhouse, but this is the perfect opportunity for me to go out and try something completely new (and fulfill my dreams of becoming Lara Croft sshhh archaeologists can still be cool).
Here’s the excerpt from the Uni about the site:
Set in one of the most remarkable archaeological landscapes in southeastern Europe, the Iron Gates, the site of Schela Cladovei, which was occupied in turn by the last hunter-gatherers and first farmers of the region, is arguably the most important Mesolithic Neolithic settlement to survive flooding of the Danube Valley following the construction of two massive hydroelectric dams.
The site will work with Neolithic Skeletal remains and I will receive training in Osteo-Archaeology! This is an invaluable skill in archaeology, especially if I want to work on medieval sites in the future that nearly always have graveyards around them (those darn anglo-saxons and their inhumations!)
I’ll be on site for three weeks from the end of May to the middle of June. I will finish up my last exam in May and then hop a plane to Romania! I am so excited for this opportunity! It will be brand new part of the world that I have never seen before and I cannot wait to be on site. Being abroad has really taught me the value of a bigger world view. I have come into contact with people and ideas from all over the world and I think in this new globalised world we need more people who understand more cultures than just their own.
(Side tangent: conflict always stems from a lack of understanding…)
Yes, archaeology is the study of material culture from the past, but underlying all of that is the question of explaining our present. We cannot even attempt to understand the present without understanding our past and arguably vice versa.
So anyway, the excavation has been ongoing since 1965 by Edinburgh University and still is lead by a professor here at the University so I will receive training and work alongside the faculty from here in Edinburgh. We will be staying in a house very close to the site and will have the opportunity to not only attend on-site lectures but get out and travel to other archaeological sites in Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria.
We might even see some vampires. (Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula was from Transylvania a region in Romania.)
I looked around a lot for excavations and while I found some really interesting ones in Northern Scotland (there was one excavating medieval turf houses near Aberdeen) they were not long enough to fulfil my First Year 3 week requirement (bummer). But, I am still in contact with those site coordinators, so maybe in the passing years I will be up there.
But, for the summer I will be in Romania! And I cannot be more excited for it!
This brings me to my second point.
(WARNING I AM REALLY NOT TRYING TO SOUND LIKE A PRETENTIOUS TWAT)
I honestly can’t believe how amazing my life is at the moment. I’ll only be 19 in April but I am already living in a foreign country attending a world class university. I have friends from all over the world. I have seen hundreds of years of history just on my walk to class this morning.
If someone would have told me my freshman year of high school that I would be sitting in a coffee shop overlooking the Royal Mile writing about how I will be attending an archaeological excavation in Romania I probably would not have believed them.
I guess it’s just a testament to hard work paying off. And maybe a little bit of luck, if you believe that luck is being prepared to seize the opportunity when it comes and not letting it pass you by.
Some F. Scott Fitzgerald for you, ‘Our lives are shaped by opportunities, even the ones we miss.’
Which, I know I am in no place to talk much (still a first year, guys!). I guess I have some credibility to talk to those people still in high school reading this… it’s so worth it. Write every essay like it’s the most important paper in your life. Read everything you are given. Don’t stop trying to push yourself because it pays off. Talk with your teachers, they are there to help you. (Bless my high school teachers for putting up with my shitty antics.)
Don’t be afraid to pursue a crazy dream.
Because, every last second pays off.
Just go for it. There’s this quote from Amelia Earhart, ‘the best way to do it is to do it.’ I think it’s great. So many people just talk about what they want in life and never go out and actually do it. As Yoda says, ‘do or do not, there is no try.’
It might not be the cool thing, a lot of people are too caught up in trying to be popular and forgot to first like who they are themselves. You’ll be ostracized. You’ll be called a ‘teacher’s pet’ or a ‘know it all.’ But, that’s fine. Embrace it. You’re in school to learn so that one day you can be the smartest and happiest human you can be. High school is full of groupthink. And that’s perfectly okay, some people feel more comfortable in a group. Some people like having others around them that are exactly the same. I just know that I never did.
Every person to their own, just do what makes you happy.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is just go out there and carpe the f*ck out of that diem. And the diem after that… and after that… you know, honestly just go carpe vitam.
Go learn as much, experience as much as you can. But, don’t rely on others to get you there. Ask for help, learn from your peers, but make sure that you are carving your own way yourself. And remember not to live too much in the past, I know as a historian that’s a hard statement for me to say, but seriously yesterday is gone. Move on. Keeping climbing upward and reaching out for stuff and eventually it will all come together. I remember this summer when I first arrived in Edinburgh I knew that everything had been worth it.
I’m here now, but that doesn’t mean the hard work is over. If anything the prep is over and the hard work has just begun.
Okay, time to buy a trowel and work on my Romanian.