Treat Yo’ Self: Athens, Greece 2022

If you’re an archaeologist, the fact that you spend your summers working in a foreign country has probably often been (mis)interpreted as a leisurely vacation.

Don’t get me wrong – working in Greece for four to eight weeks of the year *is* something I am privileged to be able to experience. But it’s still work. And working five or six days a week in the heat of the day takes its toll, mentally and physically, after a while.

Many people have already recognized this, and schedule in a vacation at some point during their trip. I, on the other hand, have been coming to Greece for six summers and have not once taken any time to myself.

This year, however, I had a little extra time in Athens and thought, “Hey, what the hell? No time like the present.”

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Research Trip 101: Permits (Hidden Curriculum #9)

For those of you who are new here, the hidden curriculum includes a set of things we’re expected to know how to do, from attending a conference for the first time to applying for funding to going on the job market, without actually being taught them. This month’s installment is all about research trips since I’m on my own trip right now!

Embarking on your very first research trip can feel overwhelming. It’s a long, tedious process with a lot of moving parts – no wonder I’ve gotten so many questions about it! In this post, I’m going to help you get started on that process.

In particular, I’ll show you exactly how to start applying for study permits and contacting the museums you want to visit.

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BIPOC Features: Dora Gao

One of the things that I wanted to do with Notes From the Apotheke was to amplify the voices and contributions of BIPOC scholars in ancient Mediterranean studies, at all levels and from all backgrounds. BIPOC in the field are invited to reflect on what brought them to studying the ancient world, as well as offer their opinions on the future of the discipline and share any work they are especially proud of or excited about.

If you thought I’d forgotten about this series, think again!! Check out this month’s post by my friend and colleague Dora Gao for more on their journey to studying the ancient Mediterranean world and their thought-provoking and inspiring perspective on the field!

University of Michigan on Twitter: "@doraygao Congratulations! We can't  wait to welcome you ho〽️e!" / Twitter
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Scrivener vs Word vs Google Docs: Which is Best for Thesis Writing?

Given the choice between Scrivener, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs, which would you choose?

Institutions are pretty strict about the format in which a thesis should be submitted. However, there are no rules about what word processing application you can use during the writing process.

How you decide which application to use depends primarily on your budget, your writing style, and what features you need.

In this post, we’ll compare Scrivener, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs. We’ll go over the strengths and weaknesses of each, so that you can make the best choice for you. After that, your thesis writing process will (hopefully) be smooth sailing.

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5 More Grad School Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

Another year, another grad school interview season underway.

This is (I think) the first year that my program (archaeology) and our department (Classical Studies) have decided to go their separate ways for recruitment. Last week was the department’s; in a few weeks will be my program’s.

I figured that now was as good a time as any to breach the subject (again). In case you missed last year’s installment, you can check out the first five questions I suggested here.

Last year’s post was centered primarily around considerations for BIPOC prospective students, including questions about interdisciplinarity, DEI approaches, and institutional support.

This year I thought more about questions that dig deeper into structural issues, such as pedagogical training, time to degree, and financial support.

A quick reminder: although some questions may seem best suited for faculty interviews, don’t forget to talk to current students! Current students are just as (if not more) valuable as sources of information about grad programs. And don’t just ask younger students – talk to the older ones, too!

I promise, we don’t bite.

Now, on to the questions.

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Get Rid of Writer’s Block Once and For All

The worst advice I’ve ever been given to beat writer’s block can be summed up in two words: just start. Let me tell you why that advice sucks.

First, there is nothing more terrifying than a blinking cursor on a blank page combined with high expectations.

Do you have a million ideas and no idea which one to choose?

Do you have a quickly approaching deadline?

Are you a perfectionist?

Whatever form your high expectations take, being told to just start is a recipe for disaster. Staring at a blank page is the surest way for me to do just about anything else instead.

Writer's block affects all of us

Second, when someone tells you to just start, they rarely if ever tell you where to start. Put another way, they never tell you what to start with. It’s like giving you a box of furniture parts and some tools, but no instruction manual.

There are two ways to approach this situation.

You might abandon the task entirely, which is entirely fair. They put you in an impossible situation!

Alternatively, you might break down and choose a place to start that looks straightforward enough. But it would be a lot easier if you had a piece of paper that enumerated each of the steps for you.

For most of us, the stakes are too high to go with the first option, so we figure out where to start eventually.

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Notes from AIA-SCS 2022

Last year I summarized the highs (and lows) of the annual joint meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Society for Classical Studies (SCS). I figured, why not do it again?

The 2022 AIA-SCS conference was virtual again this year.

I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find out that this year’s meeting did not proceed without incident. 

Most egregious, I think, was when it was brought to everyone’s attention that the title of one paper was both inappropriate and wholly unprofessional in its exposure and trivializing of a student’s mental health issues. The matter was seemingly quickly resolved, with a change in the paper’s title and an apology issued by the presenter.

I think the issue raises three larger problems, however:

  1. Why would anyone think that such an approach would be appropriate?
  2. How the heck did a paper with such a title and premise get accepted in the first place?
  3. When will our relationships with our students be such that making light of serious issues in conference papers and on social media becomes far less commonplace?

I’m not going to go into any of these points, but they’re just things that have been on my mind since it blew up on Twitter.

Instead, this post will focus more on the highlights of the conference for me. It will also include a list of sessions that I wish I’d had the time or energy to attend while the conference was happening.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s more exhausting: physically running between rooms in a conference hall or the mental effort it takes to shift from Zoom session to Zoom session. Right now, I’m sensing it’s the latter.

You may sense a theme in the talks and sessions that I managed to make it to (and even some of the ones I’m planning to watch later). Sorry not sorry.

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Syllabus Shake-Up Day Five

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the fifth and final day of the 2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge.

If you missed the other days of the challenge, or if you want to start from the beginning again, here they are:

Day 1: Syllabus Audit

Day 2: Traditional vs Innovative Strategies for Syllabus Engagement

Day 3: Examples of Syllabus Engagement Strategies in Action

Day 4: Common Harmful Assumptions We Make About Students

Today’s installment of the challenge is all about reflecting on the process.

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Syllabus Shake-Up Day Four: Avoiding Assumptions about Students

It’s day four of the 2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge! If you’re just joining in, don’t forget to check out days one, two, and three. In today’s installment, we’re talking about common harmful assumptions we make about students and how to combat them.

As with the previous days, there is a prompt for you to work through on your own at the end of the post. Feel free to share your thoughts with the community by commenting on this post, or on social media by tagging @ApothekeBlog or #SyllabusShakeUp!

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