What the hell is Anthropology, anyway?
If my life were a movie, it would be hilarious.
Why do I say that? I’m a 33 year old college junior. I just transferred to the largest place I’ve ever gone to school in my whole life, so large in fact that it has its own transit system to get you to your destinations (when it actually works). My first impressions of USF were kind. After this past Tuesday, I totally have changed my opinion. That was probably the worst (!!) day I’ve ever had, even worse than the day I broke up with my ex (and that was a hot damned mess, to steal a phrase).
Where to start? Ah yes, the beginning. I’ve been having problems with Financial Aid. It’s a tiny, stupid thing really. However, getting these people to actually fix it and take the hold off my account has proven to be problematic. I’ve sent a letter, called six times, and finally took a last letter on Tuesday morning.
I woke up on Tuesday very excited for my first day getting my hands dirty in Anthropology’s Biological sub-field. I was scheduled for Bio Ant + its required lab, and a class I grabbed for fun, Inequality in Global Society. I left my house at 6:45, because I still needed to get my parking permit and get to class. I had decided to take the Veterans Expressway from my house to Tampa, because I have a pass that pays my tolls automatically. Normally, that is a very quick 1 hr drive. Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday. That morning, traffic was backed up for almost 20 miles, bumper to bumper, once I reached the outskirts of the Tampa Suburbs. It took me forever to get to campus, thanks to one broke down car way off to the side of the road. My only thought is that people were rubber-necking. What a shock. There appeared to be no other reason for the traffic jam.
Getting my parking permit was the easiest part of my day. It took only 10 minutes (another shock) and I parked and realized I had to hoof it to get to the bus stop that took me to the Social Science building where I needed to be. I had about 45 minutes to get to class at that point. Plenty of time, I thought.
I needed the bus on the C route. I saw four of them in the time I was standing at the stop in 34 degree weather. None of them actually stopped however. They were all going the way we needed to go (I wasn’t the only person at the stop) but none of them stopped. The first one was full. We could all see that. The other 3? Who knows where they were going, but the sign on the front said Social Science/Marshall Center.
It’s now 5 minutes before class starts. USF has a strange policy, but I guess it makes sense. If you miss your first scheduled class, they drop you. I was about a mile and a half from the SOC building. It was simply not enough time to make it, because I was going to have to walk. I started getting pissed. I figured since I was going to be dropped, I might as well go to Financial Aid to see them in person, I expected a wait. I got one.
The financial aid people (some of them, at least, including my FA counselor) are idiots. He never returns phone calls, never sends an email, nothing. I get zero from him. He’s completely and utterly useless. After a terrible campaign to get the issue resolved, it ended up with me squaring off with a FA walk-in counselor, who looked like she was 12. Needless to say, some heated words were said in which I questioned her intelligence, her credibility and her sense of style.
The problem is still not fixed. I have to locate a single piece of paper from 2008 to prove my point. It will take at least 10 days to get it, most likely. I have a tuition deferment until March, but since I have a hold, I can’t get my text books on Financial Aid. Have you seen the cost of text books? That shit is insane.
Did I mention that I also missed my Inequality class and was dropped from that too? Yeah. Thanks Financial Aid. You made my day so much better.
I left campus at that point. I was fuming mad, and giving off a constant stream of static electricity. Everything I touched shocked me, which made me more angry. Can you imagine that happening? It sucks. I went to touch the door handle of the car and ZAP! Doorknobs, glass, whatever it was, it shocked me. It had been happening for several days, it comes from the cold and I think the jacket I wear generates it. It was the proverbial last straw.
I drove home, chain smoking. I kept thinking of the advice one of my Anthropology contacts gave me: No matter how things work, make them work for you. I had only six credits at that point, because of missing class. I need to be full-time for Financial Aid purposes, so that meant scouring the schedule again to pick up six more.
That turned out to be a genius idea.
Instead of having to commute to Tampa, I’m taking my entire full-time schedule from home and eliminating pre-requisites for my major at the same time. I picked up two more online courses in addition to the ones I had already managed to grab: Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology. The schedule had quite a few choices for online stuff, but it was limited for Anthropology. I ended up with Religion in America and French.
At the moment, it appears to be a competition between Religious Studies and Humanities for my minor. Either one would probably be useful. I guess it just depends on what I take next semester, that will be the decision. I think I have more Humanities credits than I do Religion, but it comes down to what will be available. One more upper level religion course and I’m halfway to a Religious Studies minor.
Online courses are not easier than in person, and in a lot of ways, it isn’t the same thing. In a classroom you get direct attention from your professor, yet online you probably don’t see them. I won’t see mine in person. To them, I’m just another name in the chat room. They don’t know me. But since these are only the intermediate training in my field, I’m not that concerned about it. Upper level stuff (my capstone, senior seminar, etc) will have to be taken in person.
It turned out in my favor, really. I’ll be saving a ton of money by not having to commute. My poor car needs work. The breaks are shot, and the CV joints are going. I think I’m going to take the gas money I save by not driving to Tampa and put it towards a cruise this summer. It’s about time I went somewhere.
So, I’d like to say, fuck you USF campus, at least for this semester. I hated the parking issues there, and anyone who has to battle it this semester gets my sympathy. It’s a mess.
The real kicker is that I also got invited to join an honors Fraternity this morning, Phi Sigma Pi. Too bad I won’t be on campus to actually do it. Not until summer, anyway. I can save more money where I’m at and move myself comfortably during the summer when I don’t have 15 credits hanging over my head. Maybe in the Fall I can join.
Enough for now. This blog is longer than my last term paper. I have Archaeology to look forward to in about an hour.
And as a note: Just because I’m at home this semester doesn’t mean my blog won’t be interesting. I’m still full of shit and still make observations and position myself to hear things. I guarantee it won’t be boring.