I participated in Excavating in the Aegean: The Case of Despotiko, Paros. The program is run by a College Year in Athens (CYA) appointed instructor, in my case Bryan Burns, and the Director of the excavation, Yannos Kourayos. The program consists of two weeks of excavation and one week learning about Paros' history.
Before the course began, we were given good preparatory information. We were assigned course textbooks, and given detailed instructions on what to bring and where to meet. After we all arrived, we had an orientation and introduction session over an amazing Greek meal (all the food is great!). Then we were taken to the second largest of the three islands that make up Paros, Antiparos. After arriving at the port in the island's one town, our instructor helped us purchase water and food for the houses we would stay in for the next two weeks in a fairly secluded location outside of town. The Mediterranean houses we stayed in were wonderful, comfortable accomodations. We were right on the beach, there were two tavernas for food, overall it felt like a safe little vacation spot. The next morning excavations began.
"Honk Honk!" the director, Yannos, would honk at us every morning at 6:30am to make sure we were awake to take the 7am bus to meet him at the dock to take the boat to Despotiko. Yannos was always full of enthusiam. We arrived at the excavation site around 8am and then worked until 2/2:30pm with a snack break. Every opportunity, Bryan and Yannos would teach us about taking good notes, measuring elevations, drawing plans and excavation technique. But mainly, there is a lot of digging! At the end of the day, you are tired! After excavating, we would take the boat and bus back to our houses and a large lunch was provided at one of the tavernas. Then after a few hours rest (or beach time), we would meet up for an hour of washing pottery before enjoying the evening and dinner on our own. We did this everyday, except sunday, for the first two weeks.
The final week, we left Antiparos and moved to Paros, where we stayed in a very pleasant hotel near downtown Parikia (the main town on Paros). This week, Bryan took us to all the archaeological sites on the island (Bronze age to Venetian). He also assigned us articles from a course reader provided to us, gave mini lectures on the topics, and then lead discussions. The articles and the discussions were all great. On the last day we took an exam. I think we all enjoyed learning the material so much that the exam was easy.
I have been involved in other archaeological field schools since this one, and I think that the CYA program is excellent. It does not involve cutting edge excavation technology, but it gives a thorough introduction to basic excavation technique and methodology. It is well structured, informative, and fun! So if you are interested in archaeology and want to see what it is all about, this is a great experience.