Sureyya Kose is a former sysop who is in the middle of changing her career to archaeology. In Part 7, she discusses what it's like to be a student, and some of the ups and downs of the academic life.
- Part 1: A Career Change to Archaeology
- Part 2: Career Research in Archaeology
- Part 3: A Bump in the Road
- Part 4: Sometimes Life Intervenes
- Part 5: Being a Freshman
- Part 6: Part-Time Student / Part-Time Job
- You are Here: Part 7: Full Time Student
- Part 7b: First Excavations
- Part 7c: A Bunch of Nerdy Lunatics
- Part 8: Sureyya the Shovel Bum
- Part 9: Sureyya in the Field
I hope you are all doing fine and well.
Thought I'd quit didn't you? hah. I know it's been a long time, but I had a few existential crises, personal and monetary beasts to slay. As a result of the length of time this may be a lengthy journal post.
I did think about it. Quitting that is. Somehow the 'instability' of archaeology creeped doubts in my mind. I didn't feel secure. I suppose the need for security was instilled in me at a young age. Reading reports of archaeologists needing a second qualification as back up also added to this fear that I may well be struggling for naught and climbing the wrong ladder. I was studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in archaeology. Latrobe University offers a Bachelor of Archaeology: the only university of its kind doing this.
I debated with myself about what the best degree would be to pursue. I found myself dabbling in politics and found it interesting at first, but then it demanded too much and took my attention away from arch.
I dabbled in a few more subjects to round out my education, like philosophy, sociology and history. I liked how all these subjects had a commonality. Sociology and Politics in particular did illuminate how archaeology can influence modern events. Such as Mussolini's standards. [Note: In the 1930s, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini selectively destroyed or preserved archaeological ruins according to whether the 'right' ethnic group had built them.] And I found these subjects along with my own self-study in anthropology fitted rather well in gaining a deeper understanding of humanity and its development. All these subjects although fascinating in a theoretical sense took me away from the 'science' side of archaeology. The nitty-gritty of getting ones hands dirty, and gaining a solid understanding of quantitative measurable methods which involve geography, geology, survey analysis, that is where to dig, how to section the site off, store it and develop accurate recording systems. How to date the material within labs, restore it or preserve it. Instead of learning all this (which I have been slowly) I was drifting off with the 'Art' side or theoretical domain of archaeology. I decided I knew quite a bit about it all for now anyway and that I should stop wasting time and focus completely on the science.
Flirting with Heritage Law
In the Archaeology degree, you could do as many arch subjects as you wanted based on the methods and practice of archaeology itself, rather than the theory and so I changed degrees. The idea of gaining a second qualification kept creeping in as I said earlier and so for 'security' I decided to apply to do law. During an arch subject a guest speaker form the department of justice gave us a talk about heritage legislation, its merits and its shortfalls and its relation to Australian aboriginal native title rights. The legislative side of it, how heritage laws are made, and how the history of power and law in humanity has risen and progressed interested me greatly especially after some of the politics classes I took. So I decided to apply for a law degree, and low and behold I got it. The first subject was rather brutal as the dedication one needed to give the first subject was rather huge. The content covered pretty much from scratch what law was about, its entire history and a brief outline of what each category of it entails, such as criminal law and torts and above all that, statutory interpretation. Are you guys bored yet? It was rather fantastic to me, ha! ...but wearisome. All in all I decided in the end that I wouldn't be able to do it simultaneously with the arch degree if I wanted to get good results in either one, so I have left it for now. It may be something I pick up later for 'security.' I may not need it in the end, but if I do I'll be in good stead.
At the Half-Way Point
Apart from that the journey still continues. We could very well call this my half-way mark. Out of a 3 year degree, I have 1.5 years to go to finish it. I just visited the about.archaeology website, and was rather taken aback at seeing '22-year old sysop.' I can't believe it's been 5 years... The finishing line is just up ahead. But throughout it I worry, like I have been for the past 5 years. Will my current job hold up? The hardest thing about this study has been maintaining stable employment. From wearing a hair net and lab coat in a catering role at Qantas where I felt like I was in a female prison, and had to learn how to defend myself and others, to a job at various cafes and call centres, one which I had a semblance of routine to then have the call centre outsource to India. I can't say i'm not glad it happened. Right now i'm on the look out for more work and can now pour a damn good cup of coffee. And I tell you what, learning how to pour a good cup of coffee can get you rather far in this kind of scenario. I don't think I can even call it a journey anymore, it feels rather like a hard slog to a finish line in an internal world. That kind of sounds negative, but I'll tell you something else, for going on for as long as I have I feel like i'm one of the world's top optimists haha... changing careers and signing up to study from the bottom up in a career I really had no idea about, working in hard unreliable slog for 5... going on 6 years... and still not too sure if it's going to pay off in the end!