By Casey Sennett

Finding My Home at Akko

I have always struggled with homesickness. Whether I am away from my parents for a night or a month, I typically suffer from separation anxiety. I thought, however, that I had outgrown that anxiety when I spent spring break this year studying abroad in Paris. Since I suffered no separation anxiety in Paris, I thought I could manage a longer study abroad experience this summer.

I managed to fly to Israel with no problems and spent hours in the Ben Gurion airport with no signs of anxiety; however, when I arrived at the Nautical Academy, I began to feel the separation and struggled to suppress my anxiety. I spent the first couple days at Akko missing my parents and American food dearly. I was not optimistic about my stay at Akko, I wanted nothing more than to go home to my parents and my cats. I knew, however, that I could not leave. I had committed to the program and I knew that I would never be able to travel the world and pursue my career aspirations if I could not spend time away from my parents.

I began to cope with the distance with long phone calls home and promises of taking me to Chili’s and to see Spiderman: Far From Home when I got home.  As the days went on, I began to feel more comfortable with the other students, participants, and faculty at Akko. I had been worried about coming to Akko and not knowing anyone, but most of the students and participants were in Israel for the first time and did not know anyone else in the group prior to coming to Israel.  I met a majority of the group at the airport, but I slowly began to meet and interact more with others at meals, on the Tel, during pottery washing, and on excursions in Akko and Israel. When you spend six hours a day in a square with someone or at least two hours a day washing pottery with someone you tend to learn a lot about them.

I was worried about not finding my place at Akko, but it found me. After the first couple of days I had not anticipated to be comfortable at Akko. I thought I had resigned myself to counting down the days until I could go home. I, however, reached outside of my comfort zone and began to meet and learn more about the other people in the program. Those interactions slowly began to make me feel less lonely and foreign. Although I do still miss home on occasion, I have become comfortable with everyone in the program and feel good about being away from home.

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By Caitlin Donahue

I ❤️ Archaeology!!!

By Caitlin Donahue. When I was in the 3rd grade, I decided that I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up. My dad had continuously exposed me to the joys and wonders of the ancient world, and in the process, he created a monster. I realized my passion for history and archaeology and never looked back

Shortly after my 9-year-old self had determined my future career path, I began working on my “Archaeology Notebook,” as I called it. A very creative title, if I do say so myself.  I would spend my days after school researching my favorite topics or regions of the ancient world and write a summary, or at least attempt to, on that particular subject. I’d include poorly drawn illustrations of ancient monuments, fun facts that may not have been entirely accurate, and embarrassing side notes and doodles such as “I ❤️archaeology,” and so on.

My intention for this notebook was to cover a wide array of historical topics and groups, varying from ancient Egypt to Mesoamerica to the Vikings to ancient Greece, etc.

Although this notebook is somewhat embarrassing to look through now, it allowed me to express my passion and encouraged me to always try to learn about different places and parts of history.

Fast forward to the present, and it is clear to see that I took my 3rd grade decision to become an archaeologist very seriously. I am here in Akko and loving every second of my very first dig, and am unbelievably excited to see what else the future has in store for me. I never once had a back-up plan or another career path in mind if archaeology had turned out to be the wrong choice for me, so it is insanely relieving to finally know for sure that I ❤️ archaeology just as much as I always thought.

However, my college classes and work on Tel Akko have led me to the realization that 9-year-old me knew very little about what archaeology fully entails. Growing up, I was definitely biased towards large-scale and impressive ancient monuments and civilizations. Basically, I was interested in the type of archaeology that people generally associate with Indiana Jones and other stereotypical depictions of the ancient world. Excavating at Tel Akko has allowed me to gain a greater sense of appreciation for the seemingly mundane and often overlooked aspects of the ancient world. Now with every pottery sherd and bone fragment I uncover,I feel as if I am helping to gradually piece together the history of Tel Akko and the purpose it served in the ancient world.

Another important thing Tel Akko has helped me realize is my love for excavation. It was always a concern of mine that despite my love of history, excavation just may not be for me. I’m the type of person to scream whenever I see a spider, so the notion of encountering scorpions and other creepy crawlers was slightly unsettling. Luckily, these fears were quickly put to rest during the first day of field work at Tel Akko. I was covered in dirt and sweat and had blisters forming on my hands from never having done any manual labor before, and honestly, I’d never been happier.

I’m still not a huge fan of seeing giant spiders and other weird insects I’ve never seen before, but so far I have not caused a scene and freaked out so I’d say that’s pretty good. I now find myself daydreaming about dirt, sweeping off ashlars, trimming baulks, and removing fieldstones, but I’m not complaining.

While I can’t determine if my “Archaeology Notebook” was cute or incredibly cringe-worthy, I am thankful that I was able to find and stick with something that I am so passionate about. Working at Tel Akko and experiencing the archaeological process in a tangible manner has helped to validate my passion and strengthen my outlook on the future. To sum it all up: Tel Akko has confirmed the dream I’ve had since third grade, and it’s only the beginning.

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By Ian Seasholtz

Akko Cures Sad Boy Hours

By Ian Seascholtz.

Let us first preface this post with a rough definition of the colloquial use of the term “Sad Boy Hours.”

 

Sad Boy Hours: The time between two and four a.m. during which people are permitted to express negative emotions through the acts of venting and/or crying. May also refer to general feelings of sadness, apprehension, and anxiety.

 

Prior to my departure, one could say that the Sad Boy Hours were in full effect. As the previous semester came to a close and general feelings of anxiety and insecurity set in, I was experiencing more than a fair share of apprehension and doubt about my upcoming adventure, which I now find was completely unwarranted. In the days leading up to the trip, I was almost to the point of dreading the thought of leaving the comfort of home for an entire month to travel to somewhere completely new with a group comprised mostly of strangers. Would I enjoy the city of Akko? Would I like working on the Tel so early in the morning in the blistering heat? What kinds of people would I meet and befriend? All these questions racked my brain and fueled my Sad Boy Hours.

 

The First Days:

Shy and reserved by nature, the first days of the trip were riddled with anxiety, which was only compounded with and augmented by the extreme jet lag I was experiencing while attempting to catch up on lost sleep from the long flights and layovers. This left me on the brink of delirium for the first several days, especially during the mindless tedium of sandbagging on the Tel. Rip, dump, rinse, and repeat, all while barely uttering a word.

The second day on the Tel is when everything began to change for the better. After completing the last rounds of sandbagging in my still zombie-esque state, I was inducted in to what would become endearingly referred to as The Southern Colony, The Prison Yard, and, “that place that won’t stop giving us so much pottery to wash”: Area Black. It was here that my feelings of doubt began to dissipate and my confidence in my personal, social, and academic life began to flourish. The labor was arduous and backbreaking. The bullets of sweat dropped from my furrowed brow nearly as fast as the literal bullets were unearthed by square NN9. I enjoyed every sweat-soaked moment of it. Every sherd we drew forth from the earth that acted as the bane of the other squares was, to me at least, an exciting new discovery. Even when the thrill of constantly pulling up pottery waned, my enthusiastic supervisors, area mates, non-stop special finds, and the daily “Breakfast with The Beatles” playlist kept the excitement alive. The only negative being the infamous and nearly indestructible “spicy onions” that plagued Area Black in the first layers of topsoil.

Shedding the Shell:

The Fourth of July was when I really started to conquer the social anxiety that constantly chewed at my psyche. The celebration at Life Beach was where fun was had, lasting friendships were forged, and free sodas were consumed. From that point onward it was as if a dark cloud was lifted from my being. I felt confident, noticeably more positive and outgoing, and excited to experience whatever that next day had to offer me. For me, the Sad Boy Hours had vanished and were replaced by hours of happiness and fulfilment. I had done what I had previously assumed was the impossible; but we all know what happens when one assumes.

While I once dreaded the thought of abandoning my little nook for the unknown, I now feel as though the unknown is now what draws me further onward. My stay in Akko has taught me so much in such a short time that the only sad boy thought that crosses my mind is the thought of leaving such a wonderful place.

If there is anything to take away from this experience, it would be find what is to be found, be who you want to be, and to not fear what is beyond the nook. So, for now and onward the Sad Boy Hours have been cancelled.

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Finding My Home at Akko
I ❤️ Archaeology!!!
Akko Cures Sad Boy Hours