Three years ago, when I first came to Greece, I immediately fell in love with the culture, food, and the language... as well as their ancient history (that is a given). Since then, I’ve tried to find any reason I could to go back. I have done field schools, but that did not seem enough. I emailed some of my professors from when I was at Wilfrid Laurier, and found out that the institute had an opening for an internship. I grasped that chance and you could say I jumped on the next plane out of Canada, I was so excited. The moment I arrived (a day late because of snowy weather cancelling flights) it felt like I was back home. My internship in Athens has been as fulfilling as I imagined. It is not all work and no play, actually, it’s very much the opposite. During the week day I was leading the inventory of the library while Matt, the other intern from Waterloo University, was the social media guru, otherwise we’d be out exploring what Athens had to offer.
The inventory of the books in the library was needed to be done for many reasons. It’s been a few years since one has been completed, so this gave us a chance to clear out any duplicates, check the condition of the older books, and locate any that were MIA. The inventory had two separate processes, one for monographs and the other for periodicals. The inventory was also done for the big move! The Canadian Institute’s new building is in the process of improvements to house the library and the archives. As an intern I also did a number of tasks, such as delivering books, became master builder of Ikea furniture, and prepared delicious treats for lectures held. I was able to attend many lectures and open meetings throughout my stay. It is always fun to dress up, make connections in the archaeology world, visit other foreign schools, and of course enjoy glasses of free wine.
A goal of mine while staying in Athens was to work on my Greek (speaking and reading). I took my time to practice learning and working on basic phrases and numbers to get by at the grocery stores, restaurants, museums and sites. I seemed to have mastered my numbers at the Farmers market which I went to every Friday. The Laiki Agora (Λαϊκή αγορά) was overwhelming to the senses. I became almost awestruck taking in the bright colours of the fresh fruit and veg, the smell of flowers in the air, tasting the sweetest honey, and hearing shouts of the of the farmers yell their prices. Tuesdays were saved for the Red Lion. These nights we walk over to the pub and socialize, enjoy a beer and play many rounds of darts with people from other foreign institutes.
I’d have to say my favourite part of my experience in Athens was the weekend get-away. Travelling to wondrous ancient sites and museums was the topping on the cake. In this I was not alone. Other interns from the Swedish, Norwegian, British and American institutes became my travel buddies. I’d say my most memorable weekend outing was the trip to Cape Sounio. The sunsets at the ancient Temple of Poseidon (Ακρωτήριο Σουνιο) are as gorgeous as they are famous. Standing here on this hill top you feel the power of the ocean that surrounds the cape and hill top temple dedicated to the God of the Sea.
In other spare time, you’d find us out wining and dining. We loved to check out local taverns with delicious Greek cuisine and abundance of delicious red wine (you can probably tell by now that Dionysus would be my patron god). I am now skilled at navigating and travelling the metro, and can proudly say I’m starting to memorize the streets of this growing city like the back of my hand. There are always many more stories to share about my time working at the Canadian Institute and my traveling adventures around the country with amazing sites to see, but you’ll have to ask me. I am very grateful at this privilege and time here to expand the knowledge and interest of ancient/modern Greek culture and its archaeological history.
Wilfrid Laurier University Intern, Spring 2018