gwen (gwenix) wrote,


So, it looks like I'll survive the four hours of classes on Wednesdays very well. My Cultural Anthropology class looks like it's going to kick a lot of ass. The professor just came back from spending time with indigenous peoples in Ecuador for seven months, and has a lot of interesting anecdotes about that. In fact, he started the class illustrating cultural differences with a story about a bus ride in Mexico where here people will go out of their way to avoid eye contact at all times, but in Mexico, he found people staring at him for hours on the bus. Like, two inches from his face.

Plus, the material is really interesting it looks like. His main point is to try to get across to people that native people aren't "backwards" or "lesser", so we should try to understand them from their perspective, and since I've always been a relativist, this aligns with my belief system very nicely. The grade is *only* going to be based on four papers we write based on the reading materials, class notes, and films we watch. This is gonna rule.

Oh yah, and it helps that he's *really* cute. I could watch him for hours, oh yes. *drool*

So, my fear about four hours of class in one day defeating my short attention span is now gone!

So, while he was discussing the way Cultural Anthropologists work in the field, like, how they go in and are at utmost attention for the first while studying every difference in how people interact so that they can both watch it and use it (to not offend), I realized I do that naturally. I have idly wondered before why I'm really quiet when I meet a huge group at once, and why I have issues with large groups of people in general, when I'm so outgoing and obnoxious once I'm comfortable among people... but I realized I have spent my life always moving around.

Even growing up "in Pittsburgh", I actually spent a good chunk of my childhood on the road going to Dad's field locations. These locations were largely in the USA, but all over the Rockies in the middle of nowhere, and once we were in Japan (for the few of you who don't know that already). Plus, we moved to New England when I was still fairly young, and I myself have since moved all over the place. I have hung out with all kinds of different people as a result, and I acquired the reflex very early to watch for the differences in body language, dialect, and customs; plus to see who has what position within a group before I try to assert mine (don't step on any toes).

So, what this means is that I'm really quiet when encountering a new group, and I get really sketchy when in large crowds of people I don't know (too much processing of data). I find it interesting that I do this completely naturally as a product of my weird growing up lifestyle, though.

However, I do process things differently than Cultural Anthropologists. It seems they're looking for the differences in cultures, meanwhile I look for similarities right off the bat. I look for common ground, things to share with the people I'm around, things to feel familiar. However, I do listen to the local dialect very strongly (as a result of my classical vocalist studies, I did need to learn some linguistics) trying to acquaint my ear to it as quickly as possible. I do academically look at differences of culture, but I am more interested in the similarities. So I guess I'd make a lousy Cultural Anthropologist. :)

Anyway, that's my random musings after my first class in the subject. I think it might help change my perspective in how I view the world, which is a very good thing -- it's what I'm in University for. And it means it'll be an excellent course.

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