Tag Archives: religion

Top 15 things I’d never do in the States that I did in Tanzania

(stolen and slightly edited from my friend Rachel’s blog)

15. Become shocked when I see women’s knees or shoulders.

14. See a white person on the street and assume I know them.

13. Not get insulted when people shout mzungu (white person in Swahili) as if it were my name.

12. Not stop to look when I see a monkey. Or scream when I see a snake (yes, slithering under the door in my home stay house).

11. Throw an orange peel out the window. (I still don’t know how I feel about this one.)

10. Walk two miles to school to get internet and then literally wait 5 minutes for a page to load.

9. Not flinch at all when I see a chicken in the bus that I’m on.

8. Let 25 dirty children play with my hair.

7. Spend a large portion of my time explaining why I don’t go to church on Sunday.

6. Wait for two hours at a restaurant for my food and not complain, or receive any kind of apology.

5. Pay ten times more for a mediocre slice of mzungu pizza than a hearty plate of rice and beans.

4. Celebrate when I take a bite of food without finding grit in it.

3. Consider it a miracle when I find a bathroom with toilets, toilet paper, running water AND soap, regardless of how bad it smells.

2. Look at a 16 seat van with 25 people packed in it and assume there is still plenty of room to hop on.

1. Hang out with lions, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and hippos.

I feel like this actually really encapsulates a lot of my experiences.

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Anthropology?

Anthropology has definitely piqued my interest because it seems that it seems to be the discipline best suited to what and how I want to study and research. I don’t know exactly what I want to study, but most of my ideas involve culture and looking at it in all its complexities, from all different angles. With anthropology, this kind of multidisciplinary research would not only be allowed but encouraged. And by “what” I want to study I’m referring to independent work, which can and hopefully will relate to what I want to do with my life. But I also think that anthropology classes seem really interesting in general, and the flexibility that the department allows is awesome as well.

Blah blah blah, you probably could have read a well-written version of that previous paragraph on any anthropology department handout. So in my specific case, I started to learn about anthropology in “Cultural Politics of the Body,” my writing seminar, a requirement for all Princeton freshman, which is actually the only even semi-anthropological class I’ve taken so far. But then this summer is when I’ve thought more seriously about the alluring discipline of anthropology. First, one of the first people I met upon arrival was a PhD anthropology student who is studying Kiswahili and doing preliminary research for her dissertation on refugees. Her passion for her work has been inspiring. Also, over the course of my time here I just keep reaffirming that I love exploring different cultures. Not only have I been able to learn about Tanzanian culture by living here and with a Tanzanian host family at the University, but I’m also getting a small glimpse into the unique culture of my Indian Tanzanian friend and her family. Not to mention American culture by hanging out with people in my program. Or the kind of strange American expat life I’ve lived in for most of my life. Or German or Chinese culture, again through talking to people in my program. And then hearing all of these groups of people talk about each other? So interesting.

I’ve also talked to people about religion in the past month more than ever before, which has also been fascinating and thought-provoking. In our program we have some strong Christians, some people searching for what to believe, some agnostics and some belief in Buddha. Talking to almost everybody in the program about what they believe and why in the hostel and on the bus has been one of my favorite memories from this trip. Now, my host family is Christian and very religious so I’m getting an education in Christianity this month. My dad sporadically starts preaching at least a couple times a day and we read the Bible and pray every night. For example, tonight when I explained that I didn’t want to eat the pork because I have been vegetarian the past year and still try to avoid meat if I can help it his response was “God created this world. He said, feed on these plants and creatures.” Those kinds of comments really turn me off from religion. But although I definitely am not a Christian people on this trip have shown me how it can be good.

So anyway, conclusion from that paragraph is that religion is also definitely up there as a possible major. Anthropology seems more likely though because I think I would get frustrated with lack of logic in religion. I would get frustrated with comments like the one above, using the Bible as the basis for an argument. Although I know I could get around that if I really wanted to study religion. We’ll see, we’ll see.

(Meanwhile, if anybody from Princeton is reading this and has a recommendation for a class or a professor that I must take a class from before graduating, comment or email me!)