By Nicole Constantine, a student of MA program in Maritime Civilizations, 2016-2017 Cohort.
My name is Nicole and I’m a 23 year old student in the International Master’s program in Maritime Civilizations. The MA in Maritime Civilizations is a uniquely interdisciplinary program that educates its students in underwater and coastal archaeology, Mediterranean history, geology and oceanography.
I was born in Austin, Texas and attended Loyola University Chicago for undergraduate degrees in anthropology and history. I’d always had a passion for history and an interest in archaeology. At Loyola, I also became involved in the Jewish community and found a home at my campus Hillel.
In 2013, after my freshman year, I went on Birthright. I had never given much thought to Israel but like so many others, took the opportunity to get a free trip abroad. After the 10 day Birthright trip, I was able to extend my stay and registered to volunteer on an archaeological dig in Israel. I spent a month with a team excavating the bath house at the Roman city of Sussita-Hippos. The experience was incredible, I got to interact with artifacts and meet scholars while living side by side with Israelis on a kibbutz.
I returned to Chicago the next year with a new determination to pursue archaeology. During my junior year, I got an internship at the Chicago Field Museum, working with a collection of ceramics that had been excavated from a shipwreck in the Java Sea. This experience piqued my interest in underwater archaeology as a subfield and I began casting around for ways to pursue it.
There are only a few schools in the world that offer programs in marine archaeology and Haifa appealed to me because it was so interdisciplinary and so hands-on. I had wanted to experience living in Israel and it seemed that the program afforded me the perfect opportunity to live in Israel, gain experience in archaeological field work and earn a degree.
For all my positive expectations, the program is even better than I imagined. I constantly get to participate in excavations – including underwater ones – and am taking classes with professors who are at the top of the field. The best part about studying archaeology in Israel is that you’re living among the very sites you study.
I’ve even decided to extend my time in Israel in order to write a thesis on a pottery excavated from a harbor on the Israeli coast. After I finish my thesis, I’ll return to the States and hopefully begin a PhD program in archaeology. I feel that my two years in Haifa have prepared me to enter academia and make a contribution to my field.