Last month, I had a chance to give my first academic conference presentation at the Cambridge Annual Student Archaeology Conference organized by the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. I cannot stress enough how exciting and stressful it was for me. No need to mention that it was in the midst of my final examinations in the semester that I overloaded. PANIC! Although I am a pretty experienced deadline junkie, I surprisingly completed my research weeks before the presentation. There was no reason for things to go wrong. In fact, it must have been way better than I thought it would be because my paper presentation was awarded with the first-place prize in the undergraduate category.
This year’s conference theme was diversity in archaeology, and I presented my paper titled “Living and “Understanding Together: How Can We Foster More Informative and Inclusive Public Outreach at Göbekli Tepe?” in The 3Ds: Diversity, Dissemination, and Disclosure of Heritage session. My first encounter with Göbekli Tepe was during the ARHA Annual Trip organized by our lovely department in November 2019.
I remember how impressed I was as a prospective archaeologist walking beside vast anthropomorphic t-shaped pillars. To be honest, Pre-Pottery Neolithic was not one of my interest areas; however, our field trip might have revealed a hidden interest. I have never thought it would become my research topic back then. The conference is over, and the next step is the publication of our conference proceedings. It means that I should format my paper in line with the given guidelines by the end of March. Even though the papers will be reviewed by a large team, I am aware that they will not be counted as peer-reviewed articles. Still, publishing in this book is a significant opportunity for young researchers like me to gain publication experience and research visibility.
I would like to take this occasion to encourage my all undergraduate friends to seek for opportunities with their full potential. I have always thought of myself not as successful as in academia than I am in extracurricular activities. It all started with my research paper as part of my Anatolian Archaeology course this semester. I knew that my investigation was in the very preliminary stage compared to some Masters and PhD presenters who were very advanced in their studies. I must confess that it also seemed daunting to me. Yet, I am deeply grateful that I did not let my insecurities prevent me from applying for it. Many thanks to my dear friends and professors who supported and believed me. Sometimes the fear of failure might discourage us, but we should always remember that giving up is already a defeat from the beginning. I know that many of us miss the campus so much and deal with various unprecedented challenges. However, online education also brings many possibilities as everything has become much more accessible.

Ekin Berk Polat

Koç University, Department of History, Archaeology & History of Art, Senior