Foundation for Polish History and Culture
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Frequently Asked Questions...

Q. Is there a minimum age required to participate in field school?
A. Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to participate.
Q. Do I have to be getting a degree in Anthropology/Archaeology to participate in the field school?
A. No, we welcome people with all interests.
Q. Do you accept volunteers?
A. We are accepting both students and volunteers on a limited basis.
Q. Can the field school provide financial support
A. At the present time, we cannot offer any assistance with the payment of course fees or travel.
Q. If I have no archaeological field experience, can I still participate in field school?
A. Yes, you can still participate. This program is meant to give you training in archaeology and is designed for students with little or no experience.
Q. Do I have to have experience in human osteology to participate in field school?
A. No. We look for students with varying interests in archaeology. The program is designed for students with little or no osteology knowledge, you will learn all you need to know through the comprehensive osteology lectures taught in the evenings. If you have taken any human osteology this course will be primarily a good review. We will teach this course as if no one has taken any osteology before. For those students who have prior experience, the program is designed to give you a complete hands-on experience as we have a number of excavated skeletons to practice with and new ones continuously joining the collection during the fieldwork. However, these skeletons are for review only, and are not available for personal research.
Q. Is the skeletal collection available for students to conduct research?
A. No, not at this time. However, the collection is available to enhance your knowledge by gaining hands-on experience.
Q. Will I have the opportunity to excavate a skeleton myself?
A. All skeletons are excavated under the supervision of the field osteologist or field assistant, however, once instruction is given, the osteologist will play a much smaller role. All students will have the opportunity to fully excavate at least one skeleton and hopefully many more (of course, depending on how many are found in any given field season). Students work in rotating groups of 2 or 3 throughout the excavation process, ensuring everyone gets a chance to participate in all aspects of excavation from initial discovery, to fine cleaning, documentation (including photography and drawing), and skeleton removal. Students will then have the chance to follow these skeletons into the lab and further document and curate the remains including careful washing, labeling, inventorying, and storing of each skeleton. These tasks are always performed under the supervision of the staff osteologist or ostological assistant. The staff strives to create a uniquely independent learning environment, where students are given plenty of help and instruction, but are encouraged to think critically on their own as well.
Q. Do I need to speak Polish? Is there someone there that can translate?
A. Our staff consists of both Polish and American/Canadian instructors. It is not required or necessary that you speak Polish. Most of the Polish staff speaks some English and we have an on-site translator as well. Our osteology staff is made up of native English speakers. The only time it may become a problem is if you will be traveling around or are in areas outside of Giecz. It is because of this that we would recommend buying a Polish phrasebook for your trip.
Q. Will we be interacting with Polish people?
A. Yes. A part of the program consists of learning Polish history, but being immersed in modern Polish culture is just as important. Our site archaeologists are Polish and may have students of their own that will be staying with you. This provides good opportunity to pick up some of the language and interact (make friends) with Polish students. It also makes it more fun. Students may also be interacting with locals living in Giecz, especially in the stores, café, or bar. Remember that this is a different culture from your own, so people may behave somewhat differently than you!
Q. Do I need to bring spending money?
A. Yes, there will be times when you will travel to surrounding towns and you may want to stay overnight in Poznań, buy souvenirs, etc. Also, you may want to buy extra food and things in Giecz. It is necessary to have some extra funds available to you, outside of your included field school costs.
Q. What form of money should I travel with? Can I get cash in Giecz?
A. Almost anywhere outside of Giecz, in Poland, a VISA or MasterCard will be accepted, and this is the easiest possible way to pay for things. The credit card company does the exchange and you don't have to worry about it. Traveler's checks are safe but not really necessary. They can be difficult to exchange in Giecz. We recommend you bring some cash to exchange upon arrival and then use ATM machines to withdraw money. The ATM will also give you the most current exchange rate. It is very important to get some Polish currency (Złoty) before coming to Giecz. You can use an ATM machine in Poznań upon arrival or you can order it through your bank in your home country. There is NO ATM MACHINE IN GIECZ. There is one in the city of Środa nearby, which we visit occasionally. You may need cash in Giecz to buy some essentials (laundry detergent, bug spray, ice cream, etc.) so please be prepared and have cash. If you plan on using a credit card in Poland or while traveling to Poland, it is a good idea to contact your credit card company prior to your departure to inform them of your plans. Otherwise, they may put a hold on your account, preventing you from using the card.
Q. How do I get to Giecz from Poznań?
A. Everyone will be meeting in Poznań on a specified date at a certain time. You will be responsible for finding accommodations in Poznań until the agreed upon meeting time. From there, we will arrange transportation for everyone as a group from Poznań to Giecz. The staff will be in contact with you about a meeting time and place.
Q. Is Giecz a safe place to be?
A. Giecz is very safe. It is a small town with few people and almost non-existent crime. However, we cannot control the activities of the locals and we live and work in public areas. It is important to follow general safety guidelines as you would in any city or town, including, for example, not walking by yourself at night. As far as wildlife goes, you may see a lot of storks or local dogs, but nothing threatening. Mosquitoes and flies can be a problem (bring bug spray). As with most of Europe, there are no screens on the windows in Giecz, so we deal with the insects the best we can! There are no snakes, scorpions, wolves, or any other live obstacles to compete with at the site.
Q. What is the weather like?
A. The weather is slightly unpredictable, but overall, very nice. Some days it will be 80F (27C or more) degrees and sunny and others it will drop to 55F (15C) and pour rain. The weather can make drastic changes very quickly and the temperature makes large jumps from days to nights. It's important to bring clothes for ALL types of weather (from tank tops and shorts, to jeans and sweaters and rain coats). There is no air conditioning in the living quarters, although a fan is provided for each sleeping room.
Q. How do I receive credit for this field school?
A. Check with your university to confirm that they will accept transfer credits from Adam Mickiewicz University. Make sure that you have all transfer information before coming to Giecz as well as the address to which your transcripts should be sent. After we receive confirmation from you of desiring credit, we will submit your grades and registrar information to the university. Transcripts usually come out around the end of September.
Q. Do we work on the weekends?
A. No, weekends are spent traveling to various places and relaxing. Saturdays consist of a field trip to a nearby city or village and Sundays are spent in Giecz. You will have the entire day Sunday to yourself. Prepare (bring things to do) accordingly.
Q. How much free time do we have?
A. Weekends are free time for students. There is almost always work to be done, but it is optional during these times. Very often people leave for sight-seeing trips to Berlin, Gdańsk, Kraków or other destinations. It's always good to bring things to do with you. Examples: playing cards, books, games, music, etc. While evenings are generally free time for students, there may be instances where additional work in the field or lab is necessary.
Q. What are our sleeping arrangements?
A. We all sleep on air mattresses. Small pillows are provided for you, but it is necessary to bring some sort of bedding (sleeping bag, blankets, etc). You may also consider bringing an additional pillow. There will be separate girls and boys rooms, and a bathroom with four showers. Be aware that the living space in Giecz is relatively small so personal privacy can be hard to find at times. There will be on average 6–7 people per room with the beds rather close. The showers are co-ed and are used in rotation in the evenings after the lab work and field work is finished.
Q. Do we have access to the Internet and phone?
A. We have limited internet access from Giecz. Do not expect it to be high-speed as you would find at home. Students are able to use Skype, although the connection may be poor and/or slow at times. On the rare occasion that we get into the city, there are accessible internet café's. There is a pay phone in the village. It is absolutely necessary to have an international calling card for use of the phone, so please make sure to purchase one before you arrive. Some students opt to bring an international cell phone in order to make calls home or you can purchase a prepaid cell phone in Poland.
Q. Do I need an outlet adapter?
A. Not necessarily, but if you want to charge a camera, run a hairdryer, things like this, then YES it would be a good idea. It's a two pronged plug for European countries and it can be bought at any travel or electronics store. There are also voltage/wattage adapters. Make sure you check the voltage on the item you plan to plug in and get an adapter that complies with it and then the corresponding plug as well.
Q. Are laundry facilities available?
A. Yes, we have one washing machine and three drying racks. Students sign up for a time slot to do their laundry. Generally, students can do laundry about once per week, so plan to bring sufficient clothes to cover at least that amount of time. If you want to bring powder detergent with you, that's fine; detergent is also provided and is available in the local stores.
Q. Are all of our meals provided?
A. Yes, you will receive 3 meals a day plus food for the field, delivered by a local catering service. The food is plenty, tasty and it is mainly Polish cuisine. Vegetarians can be accommodated. The only things you might want that you don't get fed will be things like ice cream, candy, soda, etc. These things can be purchased at the store in town. You also will want to indicate dietary restrictions or allergies on your application form. While there is plenty of food, it can be repetitive and may not be what you are used to. So if you feel that you may not be supplied with adequate food based on a dietary restriction, allergy or if you are a picky eater you should take into consideration bringing some snacks from home. Some suggestions: peanut butter, dried fruits, nuts, granola bars, fruit drink crystals, etc.
Q. Will we ever need nice clothes?
A. You will be out in the field every day getting extremely dirty, so make sure to bring your field clothes and things that you may want to throw out later. For the weekends, on the fieldtrips or trips into the city, you may want to bring some CLEAN clothes, but they don't have to be anything special: just things that travel easily.
Q. Is this the right field school for me?
A. This is an awesome experience and is perfect for students studying bioarchaeology, physical anthropology, mortuary archaeology, human osteology, history, and many other things. Please remember that this is a „field school” and will not solely focus on any one aspect of anthropology/archaeology but will cover many different areas. We expect you to come prepared to work with a good attitude. Field work is hard and we expect everyone to put in effort and to come prepared to learn. There is a steep learning curve, but the instructors are more than happy to guide you through this process in an efficient and informative way. We try our best to give you a broad base of knowledge, so you will be expected to participate in ALL field school activities. You should also realize that this is an ongoing archaeological exploration. Your work will contribute to the project as a whole and you will be expected to participate actively. We have a good time and enjoy ourselves, but we also work hard. Also, please keep in mind that you will be in a foreign country for a month. For some, this is a wonderful getaway, but for others it may get hard to be away that long. Just remember that this is a brief time away and cherish this unique experience while it lasts!
© Slavia — Foundation for Polish History and Culture