Category Archives: The Indiana Jones Project

How about you tell me how this post has broadened YOUR academic experience?

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I thoroughly dislike professors asking throwaway questions in the requirements for writing assignments. Sometimes I think they are typing just to have something to put on the paper and not because it’s actually relevant or even entirely tenable. For example, I am currently sketching a framework for my review of an ethnography (Monique and the Mango Rains) for my Cultural Anthropology class. The professor has given us a long list of points we should address in our paper and the last one is “Discuss how this volume has broadened your academic experience.”

What even does that mean? I can’t stand vagaries of that sort. That’s not a legitimate, directional request, that’s lobbing a fancy-sounding phrase at us, then ducking and covering while it goes kaboom. It’s “Well, this sounds scholarly, so I’ll tack it on there and let them scramble to eke out something that could be loosely interpreted as fitting that description.” How has it “broadened [my] academic experience?” It hasn’t. It was a good book. I’m glad I read it. I found it very interesting. But, let’s be realistic, here. It is but one of many, many books I will read over the course of my college career. It has not changed my life, nor has it been a seminal point in my education. It was a mildly engrossing, occasionally thought-provoking story…that I still would have been completely academically fulfilled without reading. I am not going to go out tomorrow and join the Peace Corps, become a midwife, or alter the course of my education because of this book. It hasn’t “broadened [my] academic experience” except as a singular cog in the giant wheel of my overall college literary intake.

Because of the ambiguity of that imperative, I am going to be forced to make something up. This is not a problem, in and of itself. If there’s one area in which I possess superior skills, it is bullshitting. I can make up the most ridiculous twaddle and write it so it reads like a dissertation. I hate to do that, though. I hate being disingenuous and claiming something changed my life when it didn’t. I hate having to string together a bunch of academic buzzwords to fit a paper’s requirements, instead of just writing what’s in my heart and mind. I can play academia’s games and jump through their hoops like a good circus dog…but I don’t have to like it.

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So, do they give you the fedora and bullwhip at graduation, or…???

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You wouldn’t believe how many people ask what I’m going to school for, hear my answer, and, after a pregnant pause, inquire, “So what are you going do with that degree?” At some point I’m going to start replying, “Brain surgery” and then changing the subject like it’s no big deal. Until that time, for any Doubting Thomases (Thomasi?) out there who wonder what possible use my intended degree could be, I have compiled some facts from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

Anthropologists and Archaeologists

  • 2010 Median Pay $54,230 per year
  • Job Outlook, 2010-20 +21% (Faster than average)
  • Employment Change, 2010-20 +1,300

Source

No, I will never become rich digging things out of the ground and analyzing them. However, this would be a $54,230 pay increase over what I currently make in a given year, which would qualify it (in my book), as “nothing to sneeze at.” Also please note that the field is actually growing at a rate above national average, and that there will be 1300 new positions having been created by the time this decade is over (i.e. by the time I graduate).

So there you have it, folks. With my archaeology degree I plan to…be an archaeologist. I also plan to make a respectable amount of money doing something I love. Don’t worry your pretty little heads about me.

Breathe.

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Today was my longest day of school out of the four days a week I go. I had three classes (one in a room where the air conditioner worked scarcely, if at all), I did quite a bit of schoolwork, and the last class involved me trekking down a huge hill to the basketball arena and then back up said hill and across campus to my car – in 100-degree heat. After I left school I drove across town to pick up Eliza, came home, got changed, started some laundry, got the baking potatoes ready to put in the oven tonight and got a snack for Eliza.

Would someone please tell me that, after all that, it’s okay that I don’t feel like immediately getting started on my homework or working on any tidying projects around the house? Because I totally have this nagging feeling right now that I should be working. Y’all, none of my homework is even due tomorrow. I have something that has to be turned in online by Friday at 11am (and which is basically already finished), and my other assignment (about half a page’s worth) isn’t due until next Wednesday. I feel I should start on my “cheat sheet” I’m allowed for my first algebra assessment. In September. I’m not exactly up against a deadline here on any of this. And yet here I am with a persistent, pernicious voice in my head saying, “Come on, gotta stay ahead, get it done now and you have no homework this weekend.” Which is an appealing prospect, I will agree – but it’s only Wednesday. Heck, it’s only Wednesday afternoon. Surely an hour or so of work later tonight when the kids are in bed would be more than sufficient, and then another block of time tomorrow evening could finish it off.

I really do wish I could silence this….whatever it is. It’s a need to do everything perfectly. The instructor gives us an assignment that’s due Friday? No, if I leave it till Thursday night that means I’m not “on top of it” – better do as soon as I get home. Professor asks for a two page essay? Better make it four, just to prove how smart I am or how committed I am. I’m afraid if I maintain this frenetic pace I’m going to get burned out. I have got to get over my distaste for having things “hanging over my head” and give myself permission to sometimes, not always, but sometimes do the minimum needed to get by. I’m becoming exhausted from listening to my own internal monologue.

God bless the University of Oklahoma

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I’ve had to….I won’t say “fight hard” to get into school because, compared to some people’s trials, my experience wasn’t that difficult. I did have to jump through some hoops, though, and there was a time or two when it would’ve been easier to say, “Forget about it, I don’t need the hassle” and walk away.

Because of this you might think that my main emotion upon being accepted into school would be jubilation. That isn’t entirely accurate. I’ve been excited, sure. But it’s been tempered by a feeling of trepidation. Part of this, I am sure, has its roots in “Can I do this?” in the sense of the actual work/homework.

The other part, I now realize, stemmed from a different kind of  “Can I do this?” You see, I was led to believe that the University of Oklahoma (where I plan to get my degree in Anthropology) did not have an archaeology program.

We don't want your kind 'round here! Also, get off our lawn!

This left me with quite a dilemma; namely, that the closest university with an archaeology program is in Austin, TX. Now, whether I’d be able to even get in there or not (they are notoriously biased against non-Texas residents), the bottom line was the same: I was looking at leaving home to get my Masters and being away from my family for months at a time. The uncertainty as to how I was going to manage this cast a definite pall over the whole school situation.

So imagine my absolute and utter delight today when I started researching schools and found that I was completely, 100% wrong. Not only can I get a Masters in archaeology at dear old OU, I can get my PhD if I am so inclined. All I need, it seems, is to get some field school work before beginning the program – which I’d intended to do anyway.

You may laugh at my pants but you and I are going to be seeing a LOT of each other. Where you stayin' at, girl?

I have always wanted to go to OU, anyway, and the glaringly obvious practicality makes it that much more attractive. I freaking LOVE the University of Oklahoma now. I would gay marry the University of Oklahoma if I could (but we’d have to move to New York first). I am filled with so much school spirit already.

Okay, maybe not quite that much.

Now, OU is an hour+ away from where I live, so there will likely be some separation anyway. Husband and I have discussed my actually getting a place up there and staying M-Th or M-F. This way I could take a full load and actually get finished in a normal amount of time rather than dragging it out for a decade or more. I could come home for the whole weekend and even be readily available if one of the kids has a school function. If my schedule worked out so that there was a day where my classes ended early and the next day’s classes started later it’s even close enough where I could run home just for the night and be there to help get the kids off to school in the morning. That, compared to my actual moving away and only coming home on school breaks? Is positively heavenly.

Cue the jubilation.

After I graduate I'm going to dress like this every. single. day. You've been warned.