Alyssa (2nd from right) with her Interns group (2019).
Alyssa (2nd left) on the INHP tour (2018).
Before I came to Ireland, I was not quite sure what I wanted. After taking an introductory anthropology course in my first year of university, I had decided I did not want to major in anthropology. I frequently switched what I wanted to be and what I wanted to study. That summer, I was set to travel to Germany; however, my plans fell through at the last minute. Knowing that I wanted to travel, I quickly looked up study abroad opportunities through my university’s website and came across an archaeology field school in Wexford. Despite switching out of anthropology, I was intrigued by this course and I liked the fact that I could receive transferable credit for it. As a student, it is important to me that if I travel right now, that I am travelling for two purposes: to contribute to my degree and to go somewhere that I have never travelled to before. I had exactly two days before the deadline and I had to find references and fill out paperwork in that timeframe, but I managed to complete it on time.
When I arrived in Ireland, it immediately felt like home. I was incredibly nervous before my departure because I had never stayed in a homestay before, this was the first time travelling on my own (and I have absolutely no sense of direction), and I had never studied or completed any archaeology courses or fieldwork prior to this trip. However, once I had the opportunity to meet everyone and get settled in on my first day, my worries quickly dissipated. Mid-trip, I had even changed my major to anthropology (which includes archaeology in Canada) and history and switched all my courses that night to accommodate for these changes. Beyond the personal experience component to this field school, is the academic one. The skills that I obtained from this field school better prepared me for my future studies and allowed me to excel in my classes. As a person who cannot simply understand concepts by reading about them in a textbook, it was a great opportunity for me to gain hands-on experience in the field, to help me visualize and understand what I was learning. As previously mentioned, I was able to transfer my credits back to my university which equated to 3 credits (one standard course weight) in archaeology.
Overall, my experience at this field school was amazing: I mean, I did come back as an intern the next year! Leaving Ireland was definitely the hardest part of the entire trip for me and for many of my friends that I met whilst I was there. I knew the moment that I got on that plane to return to Canada, that I wanted to come back as an intern. I think even students that are uncertain about studying abroad or those not in archaeology but in related fields of study, could really benefit from this experience. A professor of mine once told me that everywhere you travel to, you leave a piece of yourself, and I completely believe that. Any person can benefit from studying abroad, meeting new people and experiencing something completely new, and this field school offers that experience.