I am a Jordanian archaeologist. I completed my undergraduate studies in 2003 at the University of Jordan, and got my first MA degree in Archaeological materials in 2005 at the University of Nottingham. Now, I am a current New Route PhD student in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.
Being an archaeologist is a very interesting profession to many especially for a person coming from Jordan. Studying this subject gave me the opportunity to explore a lot of things; it has been a window through which I can learn more about ancient civilizations. I worked at several archaeological excavations dated to different periods, from the Neolithic to the Late Islamic. This work gave me the chance to meet many local and international teams from various nationalities such as; Greek, German, and American.
I also had my share in tourism before being rewarded the University of Jordan Scholarship and coming to Sheffield. I was appointed in 2006 as a marketing communication and media officer at Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority where I was responsible for promoting Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra as a destination. That was a very interesting job in which I could attend tourism exhibitions in Europe and write exciting articles about Aqaba for international and local media.
In 2007, I started working as a TA for a year and a half at the Institute of Archaeology at University of Jordan where I dealt with different academic levels; professors and students. After that it was my time to go back again to UK, my second home, but to Sheffield this time, one of the biggest, greenest cities in UK.
University of Sheffield has one of the most leading Archaeology departments in the country, especially in Archaeological Materials. The department has an excellent rank in research, very good academic staff, and facilities such as laboratories and analytical techniques.
The most enjoyable thing would be field trips, especially when we went to a glass workshop and tried blowing glass ourselves. During my MSc year here, I got to do experimental archaeology; we learnt how to do pottery in all sorts of ways, glass, and faience. It taught me to appreciate the hard work people in the past used to do without any of the modern technology that we have nowadays, such as electric kilns, or electric wheels. Sheffield is the best place to combine theory and practice in Archaeological research.
Through my course, I study the pottery of early to mid Islamic periods in Jordan, knowing more about the societies that lived there back then. This study is conducted by studying the pottery produced and consumed by these societies, the way it was produced and transported. Thus, I could grasp an idea of how people back then lived their lives and how the relationships were amongst cities.
I found teaching and studying methods very good where academics encourage students to participate in seminars. We get to read numbers of articles and discuss them with the lecturer. We also have the chance to apply what we learn in practical classes. Field trips are part of the teaching methods that I find interesting while studying here. Professors also encourage their students participate in conferences.
Education in Sheffield teaches postgraduate students the skills they need to conduct a research. The university has 3 main libraries with excellent sources and references as well as online access to most of e-journals. Students are encouraged to work in groups. They are encouraged also to ask as many questions as they need. This thing is very essential to me as an international student where it is a bit difficult for me to comprehend everything comparing to a home student.
The best thing is that Sheffield combines everything. Shopping is my favourite hobby especially going to Meadowhall shopping centre. The multinational cuisines that Sheffield has, you have different choices that you don´t need to stick to one all the time such as; Lebanese, Turkish, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. I also find the activities that the Student´s Union do are extremely good and exciting where students can give everything a go such as; dancing, watching movies, learning to play a sport, learning a language and organising trips to cities in the UK. Transportation is one of the things I can´t ignore because they really do make your life easier. There are buses and trams to everywhere in the city and they have good student fares.
… So there is everything for everybody.
I will go back to Jordan as soon as I finish my PhD degree. I will start teaching at the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Jordan. I cannot wait to begin applying what I have learnt in Sheffield and teach the new generation of Archaeology how to be more active in this field, where it is pretty much necessary to be so, as archaeology in Jordan still needs lots of exploration and study.
I would advise prospective students to prepare themselves and get ready for an amazing learning and living experience they would never forget. This place offers excellent education, self building, and learning how to be independent. One more advice I could give to all international students, especially those coming from the Middle East, please have your umbrella with you at all time. It can rain cats and dogs almost all year round, even in August!