Let me start by saying that I love England. Any country that successfully combines tea and men wearing tights while quoting Shakespeare and calls it culture is alright by me.
So when I go on to say that I traded my remaining time in England to go adventuring in Greece, know that it wasn’t because I couldn’t stand the place any more. True, it could’ve had a bit more sun, but even so, I was devastated to leave England behind.
There are so many things to experience in England, and I returned over the summer because, frankly, I wasn’t done with it yet. I’m still not, and I don’t know if I ever will be.
One thing that I understood only superficially before I left for Reading was that I would be studying at a completely different University for a year. There were many differences between Reading University in England and my little college on the hill in Virginia, but one of the things the two had in common was the availability of study abroad programs.
I ended up taking an archaeology class with a fellow student from the College, Sam Henderson, and our professor mentioned that she would be taking several students to Crete in the spring to help her with her dig there. Our ears perked up at the mention of it, and then the question came to us: can one study abroad, while studying abroad? We were full Reading University students during our year abroad, and so when we asked the question to those who would know, the answer was a resounding “Yes, you can!”
I gave up my hopes to study in a more exotic country to participate in the Reading program, and here I was facing the possibility of having my cake and eating it too. So when we got our acceptance emails in March, neither of us could really believe it. We were going to Greece!
It was strange to go from adjusting to life in one foreign country to adjusting to another completely different place. Neither of us spoke Greek, but after a few days there we learned ‘good morning’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’, which seemed to be the vital things to know in the small town on the coast of Crete where we spent the next three weeks.
We were travelling with two other Reading University students, and the four of us became a close group. I’ll never forget spending the days on a hill overlooking the coast while washing bits of ancient pottery and spending my nights huddled around a table in a family-run taverna, eating home-cooked Greek food and being fed free raki—the local liquor of Crete.
It was simply beautiful, in many senses of the term, and the whole village seemed to know about the four young archaeology women in their midst. As if that wasn’t enough, we got to explore much of the rest of the island on our days off.
At the same time that Sam and I were in Crete, another group from Reading University was doing a dig in Jordan, and I'm pretty sure that's an opportunity that's usually available. The University is great all around, but especially has some amazing opportunities for the budding archaeologist, not only in Silchester, England and not only in Crete, but so many more; all one has to do is ask and look into it.
I honestly believe that going to Reading is probably the best thing an archaeology student at the home campus can do for her or his future career. I cannot believe the amount of opportunities I've had in the past year, and I feel so grateful that I took the leap, both in going in Reading and in taking all the chances I was offered there. Why stop when you get to Reading?
Sure, just going to Reading is great; but it's a lot more fun to thrive there! As Miss Frizzle of the Magic School Bus used to say, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”
Who knows? Maybe you’ll get as far as Greece.