Study Abroad in Tel Akko with the Total Archaeology Project
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Rachael Knodel

Rachael Knodel

Majors: Archaeological Sciences, Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies - Archaeology Option
Hometown: North Royalton, Ohio

How did you learn about this opportunity?

Since coming to Penn State, I knew I wanted to study abroad, and it was just a matter of finding the right program for me. Last fall, I was searching the Education Abroad website's summer programs when I came across the Tel Akko field school. As an archaeology major, I knew that this would fit perfectly into my plans. I met with my adviser to make sure that the credits I earned in Akko would count for my field school credits. My adviser was so excited for me because everyone who has gone on that dig has loved it, and now I see why! After meeting with my adviser, I began emailing Dr. Killebrew, the dig's co-director and Penn State professor. I eventually met with her and once discussing it with her, I knew that was where I wanted to spend my summer.

Tell us a little bit about your experience

The Tel Akko field school is about a month long experience. Monday through Friday you wake up pretty early (around 4:30AM) to go to the tel. We're at the tel from about 5:45AM to 12:30PM, and we get what's called second breakfast on the tel at 8:30AM. Though it seems like a long day, it never feels as though the day is dragging on because there is always so much to do. After we get back to the Nautical Academy, where our temporary home was, we have lunch and the a few hours of break. A lot of the time we would spend this break either napping or going to the beach. Around 4pm we started pottery washing, which is really cool because you get to see what everyone is finding and spend time with your friends. After the pottery washing we have a lecture where either the professors with us or guest lecturers from the area come and teach us about things from conservation to archaeometallurgy. Then we have dinner and the rest of the night is ours. Saturdays are the best, though! That's when you get to see other parts of the country: Jerusalem, Caesarea, and the Sea of Galilee! Unfortunately we did not get to go to Jerusalem, but that just makes me want to go back even more next year. On Sundays we had tours around Akko, one week focusing on the Crusaders, another on conservation of the Old City, and the last week a tour through the Underground Prisoners Museum. Though you're constantly busy, you're also constantly meeting people and making friends. Four weeks doesn't seem like a lot of time, but I know that I just met some of my best friends.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This program is only 4 weeks, but you earn 6 credits in the process. Dr. Killebrew assesses your grade by a final paper and by talking with your supervisors in the field. Also, if you wanted, there is the opportunity to stay for an extra 10 days and earn an extra 3 credits by doing the independent study option. I only participated in the regular 6 credit course, but I know that this is going to be super helpful for my degree. In just four weeks, I took care of my field school credits for both of my majors, and am also now halfway done with a Jewish Studies minor, if I choose to pursue it. The Akko program also allows you to take an advanced course for returning students and even graduate school credits.

This experience was absolutely perfect for me because I now know that I definitely want to do field work, now I just have to figure out what I want to focus on and what area.

What are your career goals or plans? How did this experience impact them?

Before this trip, I wasn't sure what direction in archaeology I wanted to pursue. I knew I like field work theoretically, but I had no idea if I would like it once I actually did it. I loved it! This experience was absolutely perfect for me because I now know that I definitely want to do field work, now I just have to figure out what I want to focus on and what area. I'm currently deciding if I want to participate in Penn State's new IUG program for Archaeology and CAMS dual-majors. It would have been a much more difficult decision without knowing exactly what direction of archaeology I wanted to pursue. Now that I know I like field archaeology, determining a master's thesis topic will be much easier for me.

Would you recommend this experience to other liberal arts students? If yes, why?

I would recommend this experience to anyone. Even if you aren't interested in archaeology, it's worth it. So many of the students were not archaeology or anthropology majors, we even had a math major and a political science major. Everyone loved it. I can't exactly explain why it was such an amazing experience, it's just something you have to experience for yourself.

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