Blog

I suppose it was always inevitable ending up here. Growing up in the small town of Athens, Ontario meant that I never heard the end of jokes drawing on the parallels. Jokes aside, I never expected to feel like Athens would feel like such a good fit for me. When I left for Greece, I was in the position many recent graduates find themselves in; do I look into graduate studies? Do I try to enter the workforce? Do I travel and spend my time on introspection? Lucky for me I didn’t have to choose, my time at the CIG imparted me with all three.

I was fortunate that while I honed my professional skills and got to see the many facets of post-graduate studies from an outsider's point of view through new friends, I also got to solidify and apply the knowledge I learned from my degree as I travelled through Greece visiting archaeological sites within Athens and without. There is no denying the emotional impact of viewing the Acropolis for the first time, nor can I explain the experience of seeing the beautiful light wells of Knossos after seeing them time and time again in slide shows for classes lecturing architecture and archaeology alike.

It was another trial altogether navigating the facets of work that are seldom taught in the classroom. Starting with absolutely no knowledge of archiving or my work with the institute, it only became more intimidating as networking and the daunting conversations with academics in the most respected positions of the field at the various lectures that occurred around Athens. However, as with anything else, I slowly adapted and honed those skills. Not to perfection, but an improvement over where I started.

Besides the formal learning experiences and professional growth, it was important to strike a balance between work and play, after all I think we’ve all heard what happens when you have all of one without the other. My spare time was often spent travelling; whether it be Cycladic islands or the beautiful Saronic Gulf, I was never disappointed. I saw incredible natural sites, met many friendly stray cats, practiced photography, and had engaging conversations with locals from things as mundane as bread to their families living in Quebec. I don’t think I will ever forget my favourites such as the Temple of Poseidon at sunset, the crystal-clear beaches on Naxos, or Kalos Tous, the souvlaki restaurant forever taunting me across the street from the Canadian institute.

My time at the Canadian Institute ended abruptly, but as I look back at the sunset of my time there, I am extremely grateful that I had the time I did to explore specialty coffee shops and make friends with those I met at the Institute. Even leaving the archives felt like saying goodbye to an old friend, as I delved through files thrice as old as I am. I just want to say thank you to the Institute and all its associates and members for an unforgettable experience that benefitted me in more ways than I could ever fit in a post such as this. I suppose now the jokes and comparison about my life Athens, Ontario are more fitting than ever.

Ben Nyland
Simon Fraser University intern, winter 2020