Student participation is a massively important component of what we hope to accomplish through the LULP. One of the primary goals of our work is to create a thriving field school here at Libarna where budding archaeologists, and lovers of Italy’s ancient past, can follow the physical remains of the city from survey through to specialist analysis. This season, we have a relatively small student contingent made up of four students from Texas Technical University and one from Boise State University. These five very hardworking learners are doing a fantastic job and as they represent a key part of the future of this site, we wanted to give one very enthusiastic participant a voice on the blog this week! So without further ado, meet Texas Tech student, Melisa Franklin:
It’s been 11 years since I last left the States. Traveling has always been a dream of mine, so when I heard of this study abroad opportunity in Serravalle Scrivia, I figured it was about time that I did something exciting. Not only am I getting the chance to experience life in Italy, I’m getting to learn all about archaeology on the ancient site of Libarna.
Archaeology has always been intriguing to me since I was a child. Just in the past week of being here and working on the field, I have learned so much. We are surveying new fields in Libarna to find ancient ruins underneath the ground using different equipment such as the DGS, magnetometer, and resistivity machine.
I never realized how much work goes into the beginning process of an archaeological dig. The days are hot and long, the machines are heavy, and the terrain can be tricky (I realized this when I watched Dr. Friedman fall into the “Marinara Trench” while walking towards me). There are cuts and bruises all over my legs, and I definitely look forward to every juice break we get, but it is all worth it.
Knowing that I am one of the few people to start the process of this archaeological excavation on a site that has barely been dug up is what gets me up at 7 AM every morning. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the data I’ve helped to collect by the time our program is over. Knowing that one day, the site that I helped to survey will be dug up and ancient ruins and artifacts will most likely be found and possibly put into a museum more than excites me!
Living in Italy is also amazing. Touring places like Rome and Pompeii would be a blast, but getting to live in a small town and getting to experience how life is here in the north truly brings me happiness. Everything feels so relaxed. After a long day in the field, I come home (aka, the church) and I can enjoy the outdoors. I walk into town and buy a pastry and a cappuccino, I play soccer and hang with the young Italian people that visit the church (the language barrier isn’t a problem because everyone is so friendly here.
Every night the whole team comes together for dinner and we eat and socialize, play card games or listen to music. There are no TV’s in the church but Simon does have a small speaker and I loved it when “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on and I couldn’t help but jam out. I also never realized how smooth the church floors were until I pulled the perfect moon walk to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
I love being around a group of intelligent and beautiful people individuals. I am so inspired by many of them and with the others, I feel as though we’ve been friends for forever. Has it really only been a week?