COLA Study Abroad Interview- Kait Carrion- Belize

10918363333_5f3f8e46b4_zCredit: Steve Sutherland

COLA: Tell us a bit about yourself (Major, hometown, interests, etc)                                  

Kait Carrion: My name is Kait Carrion, I’m a second semester senior who majors in Classics (Latin) and minors in Anthropology. My main interest lies with the subject of Archaeology and in the future I hope to engage in cultural resource management or perhaps curation.

COLA: Why did you choose the Belize program?                                                                         

Kait: Belize presented an opportunity to find out if I enjoyed the act of excavating sites as much as I was in love with the idea of it. I went into it knowing that it would be physically challenging with the climate change and the regimented schedule and had no idea that I would come back feeling healthy and more confident in my abilities than ever. I applied because I wanted a culturally enriching experience and I had also never been outside of the US before. The most important aspect that made me want to go though was hearing about the locals and their positive energy. Theres such a melting pot of language and culture that is so exciting to briefly become a part of.

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COLA: What was the biggest surprise during your experience?                                             

Kait: The amount of fears I overcame was astounding. I was terrified of so many environmental factors such as insects and open water. Both of these fears were dealt with while abroad, I even managed to push myself to go snorkeling.

COLA: What was the adjustment process like when you arrived in Belize? What advice could you share with other students?                                                                                            

Kait: Adjusting in Belize proved to be somewhat difficult in the first week. It really truly helps if you communicate with the project directors and do frequent check-ins with them. When I found myself feeling displaced or missing home it was always extremely helpful talking to all of them and they did a fantastic job at making themselves available to us students.

16563767291_b48f0cc38f_zCredit: Mike’s Birds

COLA: What courses did you study while in Belize? Did these classes help you better understand field and lab techniques? How?                                                                               

Kait: We attended several lectures on how to use the technology in the field and on survey mapping itself. The lectures were easy to follow and informative, by the time the final came I felt very prepared on how to use GIS equipment and Arch GIS software. The final consisted of mapping out my own survey map with my partner Josie and making individual topographic contour maps of a plaza complex that was located near our place of lodging. Each lecture thoroughly guided us on how to bring our best energy to the field and respectfully do our part in peeling back each layer (or zone) of the sites themselves. We were also provided a field journal which was a really huge part of reflection and reinforcement for us students on how much progress we were making.

COLA: How was it being immersed in a new language? Did you pick it up from them and how did it affect your day-to-day life?                                                                                         

Kait: Many of the local residents spoke some English. Those who did not were open to trying communication with hand gestures (facial expressions are key) . I learned a lot about how they convey certain concepts and moods in Belize. Being immersed in a place with a foreign language from ones own is slightly isolating but if you put the effort in to be openly/obviously friendly then the yielding result is almost always positive.