Ode to Post-Ex

FullSizeRender(2)Everyone knows the flamboyant side of archaeology.  The digging, the troweling, the muddy pants and Indiana Jones hats.  That’s the part that everyone sees first, and for good measure.  Archaeology wouldn’t be half as exciting or mysterious if it weren’t for the deep pits in the ground and the funny looking equipment.  And let’s be honest, there would be no lab work to do if nothing were coming out of the ground.  But in my opinion, it’s what happens after the dirty work that really defines an excavation.  When you’re assigned to post-ex, moans and groans ensue.  Everyone loves being out in a cutting, hoping to discover the coolest find of the day, so being resigned to working under a tent, washing bones and registering bags after bags of finds can sometimes seem dull.  But I’ve grown to love working in the lab this last week, and here’s why:

1. You get to see, examine, and catalog everything that’s been excavated

And I do mean everything.  When you’re troweling away in a cutting (the marked area of space where an excavation will take place), anything you find gets placed into a tray that’s taken to post-ex at the end of the day.  The trays are labeled with the cutting number, the feature number, initials of the person in charge, and the date.  These pieces of information are crucial for beiFullSizeRender(1)ng able to correctly label and store the artifacts after they’ve been processed, and are part of a huge cataloging system that ensures no one mixes up animal and human bones, and no bits of medieval pottery get lost among piles and piles of rusted nails.  The next morning, lab techs take each of the finds trays and assign them a special number that is recorded into a larger register and then later bagged and stored in their appropriate place.  That means you get to sort gorgeous pieces of glazed pottery, a ginormous animal mandible with teeth still in tact, and a perfectly preserved ivory stylus from all across the entire dig site.  You are the first line of defense for what stays and what goes, and you’re in charge of determining how best to classify the finds and divide them up according to as many possible factors as you can.  Even though you’re not the one bringing it up from the dirt, you’re the one getting personal with the artifacts by washing them, bagging them, and making sure they’re properly tucked away into the right bin.

2. You make everyone’s life easier by doing the jobs they don’t want to do

FullSizeRenderPost-ex is a labor of love.  It takes a special type of person to really, truly enjoy marking checked boxes on a register sheet, making sure disarticulated human bone is properly logged into the blue binder and not the pink binder, and writing what seems like a million different pieces of information onto the world’s smallest ziplock bag.  It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s one that everyone else absolutely hates doing, so if you love it, you’re in.  The other day, both of the post-ex supervisors were gone, so I was left (loosely) in charge of making sure that the previous day’s work was completed and that as many finds were registered as possible without bothering anyone more than the socially acceptable amount of times.  Knowing where everything is in the cabin, which sheets to fill out, how to sort finds vs. samples, and breaking down the science of routine so you become basically a lab work machine was so satisfying.  Feeling confident in my ability to properly log and store items that were crucial to the understanding of the medieval layer of the excavation, knowing that I was helping to do arguably the most important work on the site, and that some of the items I’d registered and bagged would be shipped off to the National Museum was such a gratifying feeling.  See here, my roommate Cara, expressing her thanks that she doesn’t have to wash anymore animal bones because she knows I’ll do it for her.

3. You have an excuse to stay inside (i.e. warm and dry) when it’s cold and raining without looking lazy

Let’s face it.  No one likes being outside in the rain.  And you know what’s worse than being outside in the rain?  Digging in the dirt while it’s raining.  When you work in the lab, you have the perfect excuse to stay inside in the nice cabin with a roof and continIMG_2046ue on with your day while all of your friends and colleagues are miserable and getting drenched.  In Ireland especially, the sky can be clear and sunny, yet pouring with rain.  Today alone between 9am and 2pm, we had to stop excavations three separate times due to intermittent downpours.  Guess who stayed dry because she was inside doing digital post-ex work importing excavation photos on Excel?  Me.  See also: the girl who didn’t go home completely soaked and muddy.  Post-ex is the best of both worlds because you still get to be outside all day under the big marquis tent, so you don’t get that same cooped up feeling like with an office job, but you’re also protected from unpredictable and unpleasant weather when the time comes.  Who says you need waterproof pants to be an archaeologist?

4. You look really professional when all of your equipment is laid out

This one’s a bit vain.  But one great thing about working on the Blackfriary site is that it’s a community heritage project and a public space, so people living in Trim and people vacationing in Ireland are free to peruse the site at any time, even while we’re working.  We have at least one person come and walIMG_2029k their dog on site every day, and since I’ve been here, have entertained multiple groups of people eager for the chance to see a real live archaeological excavation up close.  Because we’re very transparent with our work and our work space, many of the visitors like to ask what we’re doing and come over to check out the finds.  When you have everything working in a system, all your registry binders, stacked finds trays, and bones drying on a bakers tray after being washed, it just adds to the experience.  Part of archaeology is making it as accessible as possible to the people who are most connected to it: the community.  We want them to be excited about their heritage and about the work that we’re doing, so being able to show how the process works and how we go about treating the items that we find respectfully and carefully is just a bonus.

These are just a few of the reasons why I’ve loved working in the lab.  There’s something about being able to make everyone’s day smoother, to be the one to put everything in its proper place, and to make sure that the record is correct for future scholars that’s so gratifying.  At the end of the day, we post-ex champions can go home knowing that, no matter what Hollywood may say, the ‘boring’ lab work is just as important as the actual digging.  Next week I’m on bio archaeology, working with recently excavated burials and (hopefully) fully articulated skeletal remains.

An Archaeologist’s Beauty Toolkit

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You might be wondering what kind of makeup an archaeologist wears day to day on the site.  And the thing is, there’s no one real answer.  Some may say none at all, some may say just the basics, and some might want to show up full glam and ready to dig.  The great thing about makeup is that you can wear as little or as much as you want, and there are thousands of product options to ensure you’re looking your best, and your makeup stays on all day through whatever comes your way.  My personal philosophy is just enough to mask my imperfections, but not so much that it becomes a hassle and affects my ability to do work.  In this post, the complement to my last entry, I’ll be showing you some of the products that I use on a daily basis, and travel sized versions of products I use on more special occasions, like going out with friends or weekend trips to different cities.

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I’m a sucker for anything travel sized with cute packaging.  That’s why this primer, from Smashbox, caught my eye in the check out line at Sephora.  It’s the Photo Finish Foundation Primer, in the color correcting adjust shade of green.  In the world of color correcting, green is used to neutralize redness which makes it a great choice for an overall primer.  It saves me from wasting extra time concealing places like underneath my nose and on my chin where I tend to get red and blotchy throughout the day, and isn’t greasy feeling on the skin.  Although I don’t feel it does as much as other primers I’ve tried as far as increasing the longevity of the makeup, it does help keep everything in place throughout the day, which is essential when working outside.  And bonus: at $16 for the .5 oz travel size, and $39 for the 1 oz full, buying small ends up being more cost effective.

Tinted Moisturizer:

FullSizeRender(1) copy 4One of the greatest loves of my life is the Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream by BareMinerals.  Longest product name aside, this gel is incredibly lightweight and is practically undetectable on the skin.  It gives bare to light coverage, just enough to even out skin tone, and sinks beautifully into the skin when applied with a damp sponge.  As an added perk, it comes formulated with SPF 30, which, if you’ve read my other Toolkit post, you know is practically the first rule of archaeology, and stays on the skin for a surprising amount of time given the consistency of the product.  Plus, it’s an Allure Best of Beauty Award winner.  Mine is in the shade Opal 01 (“for the fairest porcelain skin with cool tones”), and while I discovered Sephora does offer a few shades in the travel size, it’s a way better deal to buy the full, especially if you’re planning on using it as a daily product.

Concealer:

FullSizeRender(7)Little known fact: I’ve been struggling with mild hormonal acne since I was 19, after it developed from taking a medication that apparently didn’t agree with me.  Because of that, concealer has become an absolute lifesaver.  I’m talking stranded on a desert island, can only bring one item lifesaver.  And being paler than printer paper, it’s hard to find a brand that makes one in a shade I can wear on its own without having it turn yellow and mark every single breakout with a big, makeup stamp.  Then, as if by an answered prayer, Urban Decay released their Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer.  The only full coverage item in my makeup bag, I use this product in the shade Fair Neutral for everything.  Dotting under my eyes to mask late night dark circles, spot concealing breakouts on my chin and lower jaw, and down the bridge of my nose to cover redness thanks to hay fever and seasonal allergies.  It doesn’t feel heavy, blends seamlessly with my skin, and doesn’t crease when set with a translucent powder.  I’ve gone through at least three tubes of it since they released, and out of all the concealers I’ve tried, this one is a forever repurchase.

And that’s it!  That’s my daily makeup for the excavation.  It seems simple, and that’s because it really is.  Takes less than 10 minutes, and that’s important when you have a 9am call time, a 30 minute walk to the site, and you have to be entirely ready to go, dressed, lunch and backpack packed, and down for breakfast which is served at 8am.  I have, however, slightly cheated by getting my eyelashes tinted before flying out, which saves me from putting on mascara every morning and risk having it flake off into my eyes out on the site.  Since both my eyelashes and eyebrows are bright blonde and barely visible naturally, at $30 for a brow and lash tint from Salon 730 in Fredericksburg, VA, it was worth it for 6 weeks of mascara free lashes and the vanity of still looking halfway #flawless from the moment I wake up.

Honorable Mentions:

For special occasions, like going out to one of the pubs or on a weekend getaway, I brought travel sized bronzer, blush, and highlight.

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The matte Hoola Bronzer from Benefit is compact, closes shut with a magnetic clasp, and doesn’t look orange or streaky.  Perfect for chucking into a downsized makeup bag!

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For highlight, I bought a travel sized version of Laura Mercier’s Matte Radiance Baked Powder in the shade 01.  While it doesn’t quite have the pigment I was hoping for, it does have a beautiful color and helps catch light on the tops of my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose in a natural, non-glittery way.

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For blush, you can never go wrong with NARS in the shade Orgasm.  It provides the perfect flush and works on an incredibly wide range of skin tones, which has helped it to earn the coveted cult favorite title from makeup lovers across the world.  Mine in particular came from one of the Sephora 500 point perk packages, but sadly, doesn’t come in a travel size.

Packing makeup is always a hassle, but at least on an excavation, there’s literally no pressure to look even remotely socially acceptable.  Just these simple products, along with brushes and an eyelash curler, work fine for me.  Skincare, on the other hand, demands far more attention and dedication.  How exactly do you pack for an extended stay, and still try and maintain the same routine so your skin doesn’t freak out from a combination of stress, gross airplane air, different water pressure and a change in diet?  That’s coming in another post, so stay tuned!

An Archaeologist’s Tool Kit

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Since it’s now my third day on the site, I feel like I’m obviously qualified to shed a little light on the toolkit of a junior archaeologist.  All of the pictures are from my personal collection of items, aside from the tools and technology actually used on site, which explains the glamour shots on our host family’s window sill.  Stay tuned for the second post in this series (An Archaeologist’s Beauty Tool Kit) which I’ll try and get ready for tomorrow!

Trowel:

FullSizeRender copy 7 Arguably the most essential tool for a budding archaeologist is their trowel.  This is my personal one, a Marshalltown 4-inch London Style, which you can find here.  As you can tell, it’s already encountered some pretty muddy territory.  It came recommended to us by our field school instructors, and seems to be the standard for excavations.  To use, hold horizontally at a 45 degree angle and gently sweep the dirt back towards you in a line.  Always try and work in equal depth, so that everything is level with the same soil type.  We’re definitely starting off slowly, but more experienced archaeologists can fly through the soil with an expert troweling technique.

Gloves:

Preferably latex cFullSizeRender(1) copy 3oated, gloves help protect your hands from anything you may encounter on a dig, whether it be creepy-crawlies, bits of metal that can cause tetanus, or just general dirt and grime. For example, on our first day at the site, we were tasked with uncovering tarp from a section that hadn’t been worked on since last year.  There was heavy mud and rocks, burrowing bugs and spiders, and even patches of grass that had made their home in the holes of the coverings. Needless to say, it was kind of gross.  Gloves certainly came in handy when rolling up 50 pounds of old tarp!  They’re also great for helping scoop up the extra piles of dirt that collect from your troweling, and for encountering some unexpected items while excavating (like dog poop…).  I got mine from an Irish home and garden store called Woodie’s, but these are similar.

Proper Footwear:

FullSizeRender(2) copyProper footwear is essential for having a good experience at the site.  There are a lot of different options to choose from, like hiking boots, work boots, or sturdy sneakers that are waterproof and have hard soles.  Some notable brands that come to mind are Keens and Merrells (like mine), but the most important part is that they’re closed toed, built to last, and comfortable.  Nothing is worse than crouching to expose part of a medieval wall and hitting a blister right where it hurts.

Hat:

FullSizeRender(5)Guess what?  It’s sunny on a dig, no matter where you are, or what season you’re in.  Even though it was 57 degrees Fahrenheit this morning in Ireland, it happens to be situated right underneath a huge hole in the ozone layer, and fun fact: you can still be at risk for skin cancer from a sunburn in your hairline.  Your scalp will get burned, because you will forget to put sunscreen there (guilty), so protection like mine, from Australian company Wallaroo, that has both UV protection and Velcros around your ponytail is a life saver for those of us with longer hair.  See also: sunscreen, and we expect it to be slathered over every exposed body part you can find, including tops of ears and behind knees.  I like this kind from Babyganics, because it’s mineral based, has SPF 50, and it’s fragrance free.  Plus, if it’s good enough for a newborn, it’s good enough for me.

Honorable Mentions:

FullSizeRender(4) copyAlthough not all climates require such things (re: most African or Middle Eastern excavations in the dead of summer), it’s always smart to bring rain gear.  That includes but isn’t limited to rain boots and a rain coat, and if you’re really fancy, rain pants.  My rain coat, a trooper that I’ve had since at least freshman year of high school, is from REI and has seen me through many a storm.  Musts: a detachable hood and plenty of pockets. As for rain boots, any old ones will do, and they don’t have to be expensive.  Depending on preference, you can go pro and buy knee length ones, but mid calf works just as well.  However, I wouldn’t recommend ankle length, just because it’s a muddy disaster waiting to happen, and no one wants to walk around squishing mud beneath their toes.

So that’s it!  That’s an amateur archaeologist’s toolkit, minus all the levels, buckets, kneelers, shovels, tents, and everything else that stores on site.  Tomorrow I’ll be tackling travel sized makeup and minimal-style beauty for those of us who still want to expend a little extra effort, even in the field!

Best Latte I’ve Ever Had

It’s from a chain called Costa, by the way.  I decided to try it after we made (another…) last minute trip to buy rain boots and better fitting gloves.  I had a splitting headache after going a long day without the first drop of my precious caffeine, so  I ordered a soy latte with vanilla and paid substantially less than I would have in America (remember how I said they don’t charge for soy milk here? I’m never coming home! Sorry mom and dad).  I then tasted the nectar of heaven that was the best coffee I’ve ever had.  It was the perfect amount of creamy without being overpowered by the sweetness of soy milk, it was bold without being bitter, smooth but not watery.  I immediately wished I had ordered the largest size but it was already 6pm and even I, a champion coffee consumer, knew that another shot of espresso was not what sleep and I had planned for that evening.

Beyond all of the unavoidable occurrences that come with traveling, however, hands down the most difficult thing to adjust to is managing caffeine headaches on a tourist schedule.  Back at our apartment, I have a routine.  I wake up at 8:30 every morning, put on my granny slippers, and shuffle mindlessly to the kitchen where I push the Keurig button and wait until the glorious sound of my dark roast ground coffee drips slowly into my favorite Anthropologie initial mug.  I’ll add my creamer, a teaspoon of turbinado sugar, and wait until the magic happens and I can function as normal 21 year old humans should be able to do naturally.

I would get my second Costa latte (this time iced!) after we visited the National Botanical Gardens.

At this point, you’re probably wondering where all of the photos are.  And I promise! They’re coming.  But the thing is, at the Botanical Gardens, a photo of one flower turns into another, turns into the entire cactus hothouse, to the rose garden, to a beam of light through trees, until you end up with five grainy, zoomed in Live photos of a bee pollinating some purple flowers in your camera roll.  So I’m just warning you ahead of time – flora pictures are coming.

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See?  I couldn’t stop.  But the good news is, hunger pulled us away from the gardens before I really did some damage to my phone storage.  Just around the corner was a restaurant called Tolka House, that advertised a carvery lunch on Sunday’s.  What’s a carvery lunch, you might be wondering?  Well, as it turns out, so were we.  It was set up like a regular pub on one side with seating and a bar, but on the other was a cafeteria style line up where the chef had laid out slabs of the day’s meat selections – roast beef, roast turkey, lambshank – and then sliced and diced them onto a plate right in front of your eyes.  I chose to accompany my roast turkey with some delicious steamed carrot slices, mashed potatoes, a “muffin” (which turned out to be a deceptively fried potato ball, but I can’t pretend to be surprised), and stuffing.  Thanksgiving in Summer was a roaring success, kept me full until dinner, and lead into another beautiful sip of espresso and soy milk.

Afterwards it was time for me to be dropped off at the bus station, among goodbyes and my green polka dot suitcase.  My archaeology adventure was finally beginning, after a week of exploring Ireland and eating some pretty amazing food.  I met my roommate for the homestay, Cara, and settled in for the hour bus ride.  We checked in with the coordinators for the IFR at Trim Castle Hotel, and were later picked up by our homestay family and driven back to where we would be living for the next month.

Sean and Caroline, our homestay family, are as welcoming and generous as ever.  They had a big dinner prepared – chicken and vegetables with mashed potatoes, and an incredible homemade rhubarb crumble for dessert.  I unpacked my suitcase into the wardrobe, laid out all of my toiletries in the shelf on the bathroom, and made myself a nice cup of tea.  It’s going to be a great month.

 

Two for the Price of One

Just one, small bit of what I love about Ireland so far is the amount of history steeped into all of its glorious, rolling hillsides.  From the cobblestone streets of Dublin to the Hill of Tara, people have been occupying this island for thousands of years.  They created monumental buildings as a testament to their power, family heritage, and piety.  They erected massive tributes to their fallen ancestors in tombs that have survived the test of time, untouched partly by the legends that surround them and partly out of sheer luck.  We got the chance to visit two of these places a few days ago, and I’ll be meeting them again shortly on a field trip this upcoming Saturday.

IMG_1842Our first stop was Newgrange, a Neolithic passage tomb that was built before Stonehenge!  It’s incredible to think about the planning, man power, and skill needed to create such an impressive structure – in an age before smartphones, fancy architecture tools, and cranes that can take you sky high.  Often, I think we tend to associate the people of the past with simplicity, and Newgrange shows just how misguided that tendency is.  Our ancestors were the ones who truly survived so that they could pave the way for the luxuries that we have in the present.

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As part of our tour, we were taken into the elusive inner chamber, where you had to hold your purses and cameras in front of you because the passageway was so narrow.  Nothing can prepare you for the feeling you get as you travel back in time, seeing a procession that was only meant to be celebrated once a year – during the winter solstice.  We ducked our heads, squeezed through sideways and made it to the very center of the structure, surrounded by four cut-outs possibly used during an ancient ceremony celebrating the rejuvenation of the ancestors through the light from the rising sun.  The passage worked by blocking light to the inside through a larger outer door, and then every year on the morning of December 21st, the sun’s rays would filter ever so slightly through a small box above the doorway and illuminate the chamber through an intense beam of light.  Our tour guide, through modern means of course, shut off all the lights within the chamber and gave us a simulation of what the solstice would have looked like to those who, 5000 years ago, built this incredible mound.  Newgrange, along with the Hill of Tara, where the High Kings of Ireland were crowned, are two of the most famous, and the most spectacular, features I’ve seen throughout all of my travels.

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The next day, we thought we’d tackle a couple of the National Museums, as well as the oldest pub in Ireland.  Both the Archaeology and Natural History museums are well worth a visit – the archaeology museum not only boasts a considerable collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt, but a wealth of knowledge and visuals on Irish History from the Paleolithic all the way through Viking and Celtic control.  As for the Natural History museum, it’s a can’t miss collection of just about every single animal, bug, bird, fossil, gemstone, crustacean…well, you get the idea.  Name any creature on the planet, and I’ll bet this museum has it somewhere – pinned, stuffed, or immortalized forever in a coffin of clear resin.  It’s laid out just like an old movie, housed in a mid-19th century building built specifically to fit the Royal Dublin Society’s growing number of specimens.  A couple hours well spent, I’d say.

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Afterwards, a visit to Ireland’s oldest pub – The Brazen Head – to end the day.  Established in 1198, this pub has been serving customers ever since, and the crowd definitely proves that.  A tourist spot?  Absolutely.  However, we did spy a few Dublin natives with a table full of freshly pulled Guinness, as well as a smatterinFullSizeRender copyg of both visitors and locals.  This lead me to believe that The Brazen Head’s popularity with people of all types is what’s kept it in business since the Vikings!

First Look

It’s been over 24 hours in Ireland and now that jet lag has subsided, excitement has set in.  After a bit of a bumpy start, today has been a gorgeous day in Dublin – a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit and not a cloud in sight.  We’ve learned from a number of different locals that this type of weather is a welcome change from the usual rain, and I can only hope (however naively), that it lasts the next four weeks!

It was the perfect day for some exploring, and, as always, last minute errands due to lack of foresight.  Our first stop was to the Dundrum Town Centre on the outskirts of the city, in need of a pair of Vans (grey Authentics, of course).  Even after breaking them in beforehand, my Birkenstocks failed me after walking what seemed like 5 miles at the Atlanta airport, and I spent yesterday treading lightly on some pretty nasty blisters.  Since the only other pair of shoes in my suitcase are for the dig (both fashion and practicality wise…), it was clear that something had to be done.

Afterwards, we headed to the heart of Dublin to inquire about my bus ticket for Sunday’s journey to Trim.  There, I’ll meet up with the other program members, my instructors, and my host family.  I’m glad we rented a car for the time being though, because that gives us the opportunity to explore farther out of the city while my parents are here, and now they can easily drop me off at the bus station before they fly out.  That will save me from having to deal with hauling my huge suitcase and backpack in and out of a taxi, or dragging it through the Dublin streets!

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The highlight of the day was to come at the next stop.  After finally getting the hang of the road system (with help from a GPS, naturally), we headed north-west towards Trim, the city where I’ll be helping with fieldwork from Sunday onward.  The drive was absolutely lovely – very few bits of traffic, easy to navigate, and charming as ever.  You’re greeted almost immediately by Trim Castle after passing the welcome sign, and it’s a huge, dominating piece of history that’s flanked by a lot of flat greenery, making the remaining structures look huge compared to the houses and shops around it.  One of my favorite things I’ve noticed about Ireland, from our first trip 6 years ago and still today, is the fact that the Irish are so used to seeing medieval architecture remains that it becomes commonplace in the everyday aspects of life.  I suppose coming from America, where castles and looming ancient stone structures are a rarity that one can live a whole lifetime without seeing in person, it seems hilarious to me.  Considering the Blackfriary dig site is flanked on three sides by neighborhoods and on one side by a SuperValu supermarket, I guess remnants of the past can make their place beside necessities of the present easily here in Ireland.

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We stopped at The Castle restaurant across from…any guesses?  Through one door was a sit-down area, and through the other was a place for takeaway.  I ordered a delicious plate of fish and chips, very fresh and battered perfectly.  After paying, we spoke with a woman there named Paula, and as I told her I would be staying there for the next month come Sunday, she welcomed me, asked who I was living with (in case she knew them), and told me all the secrets of getting to Dublin on the weekends and some awesome activities that the town will be having while I’m there.  She, upon noticing I was also wearing a FitBit, asked me how exactly to work it, how to fix the time, and how I got all those icons on my bracelet.  We had a quick lesson of navigating the app and syncing it through Bluetooth, and I promised her I would stop in again in a few weeks and ask her how her FitBit knowledge was coming along.
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I should also mention our first pub meal yesterday afternoon, after a long flight and being awake more than 24 straight hours considering the time change.  It was at John Kavanagh, “The Gravediggers” Pub.  Located right next door to Glasnevin cemetery, it’s been in the family since 1833, and we were served by none other than 7th generation owner, Alfreda Kavanagh.  She was extremely friendly, and the food was absolutely delightful.  I ordered the chicken curry on naan, mum and dad the Parmesan risotto with mushrooms and smoked bacon.  For drinks?  A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon for me, straight whiskey for mum (what else?) and a Bulmer’s cider for dad.  The atmosphere was exactly what you’d expect, the food was generous in portion and incredibly good, and the service was impeccable.  We’re definitely planning on going back.

And one final discovery for the day – Starbucks doesn’t charge an extra .60 cents for soy milk, so as long as there’s still money on my gift card, I’ll continue being my basic, Starbucks loving self.  Even 3000 miles away from home.

Countdown: One Week!

There’s only one week left until we take off for Ireland! I’m so excited for the field school, but I’m even more grateful that my parents are able to spend a couple days exploring Dublin with me before I’m off to Blackfriary. It’s been 6 years since we first vacationed in Ireland, and I can’t wait to see how things have changed – and to go on a true pub crawl! I’ve been waiting for this experience since November when I first sent in my application for the field school, and it’s finally down to single digits…will it be everything that I’ve expected?  As much as I hate to admit it, I am nervous.  What if I can’t do it?  What if it’s too difficult?  What if archaeology isn’t really what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?  Going into anything from a fresh perspective is hard.  You can try and prepare yourself as much as possible, by asking advice from those who’ve been through the same things, Googling until your fingers fall off, but nothing really prepares you for your first extended stay abroad.  I’ve always loved to travel, and knowing that I can handle things like getting an international SIM card, looking up the bus schedule to make sure I can get where I need to go with a huge piece of luggage, making hotel reservations and just generally being responsible for myself in a country that’s almost a mystery is an empowering feeling.  Here’s to hoping that this is the first of many solo adventures, and that field work is both challenging and rewarding.