The Tyranny and the Romance of Distance

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

I am  returning to undergraduate studies this year.  Very much looking forward to completing the Bachelor of Arts I began way w....a....y back when the top ARIA chart song for the year was one by Ricky Martin and John Howard was Prime Minister.

I am majoring in Professional Writing with a minor in Literary Studies.  Now, I'm considering whether to add Anthropology to the mix.  It's a big decision because if I do it, I would like to major in it, which means it would take up eight subjects of the remaining 11 I have to do.  That's a lot of the one thing, right?

But Anthropology.  I mean, geez, as if this isn't something I've spent hours and hours and hours pondering anyway:

In this unit, students will learn the key concepts and approaches in medical anthropology through both the study of non-western medical knowledge systems as well as the study of western medicine, or biomedicine, as a distinctive cultural system. Through detailed case studies of different medical phenomena and how humans act in relation to these phenomena, students will examine health and healing from a cross-cultural perspective. Fundamental concepts such as the division between mind and body, the idea of disease pathology, plural medical systems and culture-bound syndromes will be examined. Special emphasis is given to studying developing or third world contexts where disparities in wealth and resources impact upon health.

That's Medical Anthropology.  Or this, Australian Anthropology:

This unit explores key areas of recent anthropological literature in order to provide insights into several significant dimensions of Australian social life, drawing on examples from Indigenous and non-Indigenous contexts, as well as their interaction. With an explicitly cross-cultural focus, students utilise what they learn about other cultures in order to achieve a deeper, more reflexive comprehension of their experience within Australian society. Topics explored are: family and kinship; race, ethnicity and violence; cosmology and the rituals and meanings that attach to birth and death. A methodological theme runs throughout the unit, including some short team-based field exercises that enable students to gain an understanding of how anthropological research is conducted.
I mean, I think it's a pretty good tip that if you have spent countless time pondering things without anyone forcing you to, so that you bubble over when you read the course outline, it's probably a safe bet to give it a go.

So the first 101 course is on the cards for Susie.  The only thing is, these subjects are offered in Geelong.  I live in Belgrave, which is two hours' drive away.  Which means either studying off-campus, or driving, or catching public transport.  My heart sank when I first realised this.  I like studying off-campus, but an entire major?  Eight subjects off-campus?  Hmmm.

The on-campus option didn't seem palatable, nor even doable, when I first thought about it.  However, the longer I have thought about it, the more rose-coloured the thought has become .  As I sat out on the grass this morning with the grass ever so slightly damp underbum and underbarefoot I thought, "What better study space than a two-hour each way train trip away television and internet distractions?  A space where I could reindulge in my delight for writing train travel stories and observing the peeps?"

Ahh.  The online journey planner has taken my rose-coloured glasses and ground them into the ground by informing me that it would take me three and a half hours just to get there.  One way.  Oh, dammit and dammit.

I hate you, logistics!  Time to take it back to the drawing board :)


  1. Reach for the stars, chica. When I was searching for a practicum these last weeks, I spoke with my adviser, telling her I felt what I really wanted to do was self-limiting, and I worried that I ought to pursue another direction. She said (with a good many years of experience) that I should follow what I'm passionate about, and the rest will fall into place. 

  2. Go for it Sue. Those courses look enthralling, and I'd be tempted to have a go myself. You might end up teaching the stuff eventually, sending your ripples of inspiration far and wide, but in any case you'll have a bonzer time, well worth the travelling. This is your passion, and it'll show.

  3. Cool! There's so much to learn isn't there? Do they do any distance/online options? I attend one of my classes by skype - it's not as good as being there in person but it does save a journey.

  4. Hey, Emma.  It's exciting how much there is to learn :)

    I can do Anthropology online, definitely.  Which is what I will probably do.  It's just that I was looking forward to being back on campus.  To know that eight of my remaining 11 subjects will be off-campus is a little deflating ... but it has its benefits too, doesn't it.  (Like when it's awful weather outside and you don't have to go anywhere, right? :)

  5. Oh, you're a lovely encouragement, Harry.  Thanks very much.  

  6. You're a lovely encouragement too, Erin.  Thanks to you too.  

    Isn't it funny how if we're not careful we can minimise what we really want to do (for whatever reason) and opt for the "safer" option.  I'm so glad your adviser gave you that particular advice.  I think there is certainly truth in it, and excitement, and energy :)


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