I guess this is just the first in what will hopefully be a long series of very boring posts about my summer digging up a Roman Villa in Southeast England. So, I’m just going to start by saying a few things about myself.
I am an archaeologist who currently lives in Portland, Oregon. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a focus on biological anthropology and archaeology from Portland State University in 2011. After several years trying to find a job in my field (barely and very unsuccessfully – including a year of post-bac classes), I took the opportunity to move to England and earn my Master’s degree in Osteoarchaeology from the University of Sheffield, which I finished in 2014.
Since returning the US, I have been trying (much harder and equally unsuccessfully) to find a job in archaeology. Unfortunately the system feels a bit like it’s rigged against me. The truth is really that the expectation surrounding archaeologists graduating from their undergraduate degree to have had field experience, specifically with a field school is unrealistic for many people. For myself, there were several factors that went into me not having a field school attendance under my belt when I graduated from PSU. Firstly, at the time I wasn’t particularly fond of my department, though I realize now that most of my frustrations were with the school as a larger whole (but the department wasn’t perfect either). This displeasure led me to decide to finish my degree a year early, which I succeeded in doing… after taking a summer term and full class loads every term. But what about the summer after you finished school, you might ask. This brings me to my second problem, money. Yes I could have applied for and probably gotten a scholarship for at least part of my field school studies, but this would not have paid my rent or fed me during the time that instead of dedicating myself to my job, I would have been dedicating myself to a training I felt I should have been able to get while in attendance at a university.
Therefore, I did not follow through with a field school for years after I finished my degree, despite the insistence from everyone I talked to (or was forced to talk to by my parents) telling me I would never get a job without it.
This brings us to the present. I took a full five weeks off of my job to dedicate myself fully to obtaining a job in archaeology. After the five weeks was over, I was exactly where I have always found myself at the end of a job search: unsuccessful (you guessed it). So I made a decision. I decided to go to field school.
I know, you’re like wow this girl can really whine (I’ve won the gold medal to prove it), but seriously, is it so difficult to consider that our system places undue burden on people that are already putting themselves into too much debt? The problem is that all archaeologists are complacent in this. We need to be more creative in our solutions to teaching the practicalities of our subject. I’m hoping that one day I can lead a change in this, but we’ll have to wait and see.
For now, I am going to England again in a little less than a week to join an archaeological field school at a Roman Villa near Lewes, on the banks of the River Ouse. I am excited and frustrated. But mostly excited. I’m going to be blogging about all the things that happen and all the feels Ihave. But mostly the things that happen.
Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my rants a little more succinct in the future, but for now, I needed to get this all out there into the world because I am tired of feeling and thinking these things to myself.
Also, I love penguins.