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A Class All Freshmen Should Take

By Seo-Hyun Jun

Illustration of people from different cultural backgrounds. Photo creds: http://thecollaboratory.wikidot.com/cultural-anthropology-2016-2017


When attempting to transition from high school to college, most students tend to find themselves in a dilemma with scheduling. Whether or not a student previously had the privilege of having access to AP or IB curriculums, choosing which electives to fill credits can be challenging. The majority who are lost in this matter, therefore, would appreciate an encouraging suggestion of a course. As a college freshman, I am highly opinionated that all incoming scholars should take Anthropology 101.


"Anthropology" may be a foreign term that might have never been approached in the earlier school years, as I did not know what it meant on orientation day. In fact, when I saw a faculty member promoting this course, I decided to stay away from it since it sounded unnecessarily complicated. I figured it would have to do with the extraordinary intricacy of humans and possibly a scientifically molded history syllabus, which, to my taste, felt intimidating. It was not that I had never taken humanity or a social science course; it was that the subject was an area I had never studied.


On registration day, I panicked; all the electives I had listed out had failed my expectations. All of the seats were gone, which led me to take Anthropology. Anthropology, in short words, is the study of human beings and our ancestors through time and space. It can be divided into four branches of study: biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology. One may question: why are any of these topics important? I am to elaborate on how anthropology is the ultimate study that applies to real life and develops intellectual skills.


Indeed, if not majoring in anthropology, there might be no reason to know what Homo erectus is, how we evolved, and in what method artifacts are found. However, the truth is that in today's fastly evolving society, we must know the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, the idea of ethics and moral relativism, and how culture shapes anything. Accordingly, when focusing mainly on cultural anthropology, the idea students absorb throughout the weeks is the significance of culture. Students are also educated on how anthropologists examine human nature and interactions in fieldwork and how they get involved in some cases.


The most important thesis I may have been motivated by Anthropology 101 is that culture, in my opinion, can be a crucial part of identity but also a weapon. Culture is to be celebrated for its uniqueness and impact on the group or civilization. In some cases, culture is the culprit in a toxic hierarchy of social constructs and economic barriers. It can also determine what toys girls and boys play with and whom someone grows up to be. Even though I thought I had not been, if not for this elective class, I may have taken culture for granted. I would have also not known about the term ethnocentrism, the act of judging other cultures due to one's familiar culture.


I find myself correcting my words or actions within the hypersensitivity to what culture is. Nonetheless, I have been educated with various interesting facts and theories of the past and present. The expansion of intellectual curiosity and discovery is what we, as college students, must achieve. This course can be taken at any point in life, as it will benefit how we see the world and know who we are. So whenever you worry about how to fill your credit hours, trust in the world of anthropology and go for it.


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