by Alexis Dailey

by Alexis Dailey.


If there is one saying I find always rings true, it would be “hindsight is 20/20.” As a third grader, I opened up a National Geographic magazine with an eager lust to learn about the world around me. The content inside overflowed with beautiful flowers, mysterious animals, and revolutionary photos of space. But the article I found most intriguing was explaining archaeology and the importance of studying the past in order to better understand humans in both the ancient and modern contexts. As I went home that afternoon, the first words out of my mouth were, “Mom! I think I want to be an archaeologist when I grow up!” As parents often do, she patted my head and told me I could grow up to be anything my heart desired.

A few years later, I began researching colleges and majors. After several potential majors and future job options, I finally settled on attending Penn State as a Biology major with the end goal focusing particularly on research. My family, friends, and teachers gladly supported this decision and told me I would excel in the science field. With all of the love and support, I headed off to college dead-set on graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. However, my life quickly took a turn when I realized I hated every minute of this goal.

Whether or not you believe in fate, I ended up in a Special Living Option for my freshman year dorm assignment. This particular program was only open to students living on the floor and included presentations by professors, dinners with academic advisors, and connections to nearly every professional and student at Penn State. After a few weeks of college, and plenty of stressful nights, I attended a dinner with a few academic advisors from the Liberal Arts College. At the time, I had no real intention of finding a new major, I just figured some of the information they had prepared for us would help me plan my electives. Instead, the dinner ignited a spark I only recognized at the end of the semester. Finals were approaching and instead of enjoying my classes, I was only resenting attending college, especially for Biology. Eventually I hit my breaking point and ran to the Undergraduate Advisor in charge of our Special Living Option. Once she calmed me down, we discussed my interests in science and history. She recommended I attend a few introductory Anthropology classes to see if I fitted into this program better. Reluctantly, I agreed and by the end of the semester, I had fallen in love with the major.

Sophomore year began far better than freshman year, as I now had reliable friends at school and classes I was excited to take. Skipping ahead to the end of October, a representative of the Liberal Arts College gave a mini lecture about an opportunity to study abroad in Greece for the spring semester and have the opportunity to earn a minor in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies. Because the program had been low on student interest, the department had decided to open up the application process for an extra week in an attempt to gain a few more participants. With low expectations, I applied to the program. Almost immediately, I received my acceptance letter to the program. Up until that point, I had never even mentioned this adventure to my mother. With butterflies in my stomach, I called her and asked for her permission to study abroad. She was overjoyed to hear I had the chance to live out one of my life long dreams and visit Greece. After hanging up, I logged on to my account and signed all the required paperwork to head abroad.

By the end of January, I found myself in the middle of Athens, Greece under the supervision of Dr. Killebrew. Over the next three months, I had traveled all over mainland Greece and Crete to see the ancient archaeological sites that had peaked my fascination with ancient cultures. Although I did not work on any excavations, just being able to walk among the ruins left me overjoyed. I quickly added Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies as my second major. While on this trip though, Dr. Killebrew mentioned how she would be willing to accept any of us interested in working on her excavation site in Israel if we applied by the application deadline. Having struggled to fund my trip to Greece by myself, I knew I couldn’t possibly afford to travel to Israel as well. I toyed with the idea of working on an archaeological excavation continuously after that moment, but felt I would never have a real chance to actually do so.

However, this spring I applied to the Tel Akko program with high hopes for scholarships. Receiving my acceptance letter made me ecstatic and terrified at the same time. How was I possibly going to be able to afford to study abroad again if I don’t receive enough funding? Was I going to be able to live out a childhood dream for real, or would I find out I truly hated something I had longed for? I was drowning in negative thoughts until I called my mother. Once again, she was overjoyed to hear I had the chance to study abroad again. My hesitance was quickly resolved as she encouraged me to take this chance and let fate work itself out. Taking her advice, I accepted the position and began applying to as many scholarships as possible, while simultaneously picking up more hours at work. The next few months brought me the funding I needed, as well as enough pocket money to afford to pay for my trip by myself.

As a brief interjection, I grew up in a single parent household with two sisters. My mother took on as much work as she could possibly manage. Due to a lack of money, we grew up on very little and never took vacations or travelled anywhere. In both study abroad circumstances, I knew my mother would not be able to afford to pay for my trip, therefore the responsibility had been left on my shoulders. My mother has always been my biggest fan and only wanted the best for me. She reminded me how hard work always pays off, even if it takes time.

Now, I am currently sitting in Akko, Israel on my second study abroad experience working on the archaeological dig site of Tel Akko. Regardless of the endless scenarios I imagined archaeology would be, this trip has been better than anything I could have dreamed. I have met absolutely wonderful students and professors, gained valuable knowledge, and found ancient artifacts. Each day, I return home from the field tired, but find the exhaustion is worth every other aspect of the trip. Especially since I have found two special finds since the beginning of the trip. The first special find was pieces of a Phoenician mask and the second find was a painted piece of Greek pottery. Knowing how many interesting artefacts lie underneath my feet, motivates me to work hard to both excavate and study the history of Tel Akko. The most important part of working here in Akko has been realizing I have indeed chosen the correct career path, even if that means waking up at four-thirty in the morning to spend the next seven hours sweating under the hot Israeli sun.

For years, I had given up on my dream of becoming an archaeologist because I had been told, and eventually believed, I was meant to work as a researcher in Biology. Looking back now, I can see how important browsing the National Geographic magazine had truly been for me. As I stated in the beginning, “hindsight is 20/20” and you never know how influential even the smallest moments in life can be. Dreams may come and go, but finding your true calling may be simpler than you think.


Working on the Tel

Alexis Dailey
About Alexis Dailey

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My Journey to Tel Akko