Life Lessons in Anthropology

By: Eva

When I tell people I am an Anthropology major their first comment is always “Oh, so you learn about dinosaurs?”

Not that dinosaurs aren’t cool, but anthropologists learn a lot more than just how to identify fossils. We learn a lot about ourselves, too.

My emotions are valid.
Anthropology has several different fields, and I focus on cultural anthropology. This means I study what people say, what people do, and what people say they do. To understand all of this involves a lot of talking and interacting with people and recording all of it, and this includes my personal reaction. In a way, anthropologists have to study their own emotions when they’re in the field with just as much care they would give to the people they are working with. In-depth self-reflection has become very important for anthropologists in the last few decades to make sure that the safety and well-being of every participant is looked after. I think this self-study, combined with gentleness and patience, is important for everyone.

Life lessons learned through Anthropology; water surface

Everyone has biases.
Anthropology is a science, but it’s not the kind where you can throw all the data into an algorithm and have it figured out. There is simply too much “humanness” for that to work. Before I switched to Anthropology from Biology I associated bias with weakness. After all, how can you have bias when balancing a chemistry formula? My Anth classes have strongly emphasized the fact that we all have biases and that it is important to acknowledge them, and that bias is not inherently bad. When you do this, you can see how you may have influenced a situation or why you may have reacted in a certain way. This opened my eyes to better understand myself and the people around me and helped me gain more empathy.

Everyone is interesting.
Everyone has cool stories. They just need to be asked. We tend to think that we’re not that interesting because we don’t have a 4.0, don’t have plans to become the next Malala or Obama, or aren’t going into a career that will make millions. But to be honest, that’s most people, including myself. Anthropology has taught me to celebrate the everyday experiences of everyday people. If most people know what it’s like to feel a certain way or experience a certain thing, then those ordinary stories also have the answers for a lot of the worlds’ problems. It just takes someone who wants to listen and find out what those answers are.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Tyler Yarbrough

Undergraduate Reflections

By: Tony

As the last weeks of my time as an undergraduate student at UMD approach, I wish to take this time to reflect on these past four years and talk about my successes and a few of my regrets.

Freshman

My plan coming into UMD was this: I would give it a shot here, and if I didn’t like it, I could easily transfer to the Twin Cities campus and be closer to home. Clearly, that did not happen. Instead, I quickly found myself deeply involved with the Latinx/Chicanx Student Association (Then called Latino/Chicana Student Association) and became fast friends with all of its members. A few weeks later, I ran for the Freshman Representative position on the Executive Board and was elected. That was the beginning of my involvement as a student leader on campus. Like most other freshmen, I had no idea what I was doing, and I got lost more often than I would like to admit. Luckily, by the time spring semester came around, I had a decent knowledge of the layout of UMD, and I knew the basics of how to get through college successfully. That year, I also began texting with a girl who went to school in Mankato with a few of my friends from back home. I also lived on-campus and had a meal plan, and so my immediate expenses were so low that I did not see a need to get a job. In hindsight, I wish I would have had the foresight to work a bit and be able to save up the money.

3 students sitting at table

Tony, Emilie, & Eva in the Career Resource Center

Sophomore

My sophomore year was rather uneventful compared to the previous one. I served as a red RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week, and that was an amazing experience that resulted in me losing my voice for a few days after yelling for several days straight. Outside of that and a few tours facilitated by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I did not get much experience with being a student leader during my sophomore year. Luckily, that was compensated with better grades than I earned the year before, although that could easily be chalked up to having more experience with college classes in general. I also grew deeper friendships with my peers in LCSA and the Multicultural Center as a whole. Even though I was not an official student leader in the MC, my efforts to benefit marginalized students was recognized, and I was nominated and ultimately selected to serve as the Diversity and Inclusion Director for Student Association (student government) the following year. Additionally, I ran for a position on LCSA’s Executive Board for the following year and I got that position as well. That summer, I moved in with a few of my friends from LCSA to an off-campus house. Although I faced a lot more immediate expenses, with rent and utilities, I am actually paying considerably less out-of-pocket now than I would be paying through scholarships and student loans if I still lived on campus. Plus, having my own room is really nice. Much like the year before, I have regrets of not having the foresight to put myself in a better financial situation. I wish I had searched for a job and applied for scholarships outside of UMD.

Student at job fair

Tony at the UMN Job & Internship Fair

Junior

For the second time, I had the honor of serving as a RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week. Early on in the semester, I also began dating the girl whom my friends in Mankato introduced to me during freshman year, so my year got off to a very good start. Holding leadership positions within both LCSA and SA were both amazing experiences that allowed me to further my advocacy and leadership skills. During the spring semester, I began working for Career and Internship Services as a Peer Educator. Serving as a Peer Educator has given me the opportunity to serve my fellow students in a new capacity. It has given me the chance to advise them on how to present themselves in the best way possible and how to better understand the qualities they have that will serve them well in their academic and professional lives. One thing I do regret from this year is not putting forward the effort to figure out if I could add a sociology major and still graduate on time. I kept thinking about asking, but I never actually did it.

Team of student presenters

Kyliah, Meg, Joel, Sherrill, & Tony presenting at UMD’s Summit on Equity, Race, & Ethnicity

Senior

For the third and final time, I served as a RockStar during Welcome Week. Naturally, this year has been full of doing things for the final time. A great deal of my time has been spent planning for my future and figuring out what I will do once graduation comes around. In the Fall semester, I studied for and took the GRE, a standardized test very similar to the ACT that most graduate schools want to see the scores from. At the same time, I also began looking at graduate schools back home in the Twin Cities, where I planned on living after graduation. Spring semester has entailed applying to those schools and looking for employment for the summer and more long-term. All of this, in addition to finishing strong with my classes, has been quite stressful over the past few weeks, but the support from my job, family, friends, and especially my girlfriend, has been amazing and is getting me through it. I have enjoyed the past four years here at UMD, and although I have had some regrets along the way, all the positive experiences and great lessons have greatly outweighed them. I’m definitely going to miss it here.

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How to Make Your Life Legen-wait-for-it-DARY!

By: Katie

Oh, How I Met Your Mother. A show for when you’re bored, when you want to veg out for half an hour, or when you need a little pick-me-up at the end of the day. To celebrate HIMYM and all the lovely times it has given us, here are a few lessons I learned from the show on how to make your life legen-wait for it-DARY!

HIMYM 1

Don’t be the blitz.
Say yes to new opportunities. You never know what class you’ll actually love, what activity will give you some direction, or what experience might be life-changing. If you don’t say yes and try new things, you might miss out on gaining a valuable experience or being part of an awesome story.

HIMYM 2

Think about the front porch.
Front porch-worthy friends are the best friends. If you can see someone being in your life years in the future, work hard to keep that person around. On the flip side, if you don’t want someone in your future, just cut them loose. It’s okay to be picky with your inner circle. Some relationships are toxic, and you don’t need that in your life.

HIMYM 3

Just go to bed!
Nothing good happens after 2am – a classic HIMYM lesson. You think you need to pull an all-nighter to study for that “super-important” test tomorrow? You probably don’t. You think it’s a good idea to sleep a grand total of 20 hours throughout the week? It’s not. Getting straight A’s or playing 10 straight hours of League of Legends (I’m looking at you, roommates) isn’t that important. Just go to bed.

HIMYM 4

Don’t cling to the past.
The years of starting college, graduating, and moving on to whatever is next are exciting, but also a little frightening (take it from the graduating senior). The unknown is scary, but holding back or pausing your plans to live in the situation you find comfortable or familiar isn’t the answer.

HIMYM 5

Wait for it…
Sometimes, you’re just going to have to wait for it. The things you want most often won’t come easily, and if they do, you might need to set higher goals. Keep on working for what you want, and eventually, your waiting will be rewarded.

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