Fun Facts About My Friends: Jenna Hansen

I’m not sure I had even heard of the anthropology major until I met Jenna. Even after being friends with her for almost an entire year of college, I still couldn’t explain to anyone what being an anthro major meant. So I decided to find out!

Jenna stumbled upon anthropology almost by accident. She was originally planning on double majoring in political science and history. However, when she was looking through a list of majors, she clicked on anthro simply because it was the first one listed, and she realized it was exactly what she wanted. Describing it vaguely, anthro is “the study of people and cultures,” and when she read more about it she immediately thought: “there it is, that’s the thing.” So that was the major she applied to college with.

Colorful raised hands

Jenna repeatedly stated that anthro was “hard to explain.” Technically, it’s just the study of people. But there’s way more to it than that—it’s not like psychology, or sociology, or history.

Jenna’s field of focus is socio-cultural anthropology, which means “the study of people in their cultures.” She finds it interesting because one would assume that sociologists and historians do similar things to anthropologists, but anthropology involves “submerging” yourself completely into another culture. Basically, the point is to make some sort of discovery about the group of people—to discover the different ways people think and act, and to discover what values they hold.

Another field of anthro is biological anthropology, which involves the study of primates, because they are closely related to humans. While important, Jenna admitted that she doesn’t find biological anthro to be particularly interesting, which is why it isn’t her personal field of focus.

brain/mind/memory being erased

Post-college, Jenna intends to pursue a PhD in anthropology. During this time, she will do fieldwork in which she immerses herself in another culture. Since she’s minoring in French, she hopes to go somewhere French-speaking. Later, she hopes to become a professor. She equates the broad job opportunities of graduating with an anthropology major as those of an English or history major.

Most people majoring in anthro didn’t come to college freshman year knowing that was their major, so Jenna’s encountered a lot of surprise when people learn it’s her first year here at BU. This surprise likely stems from the fact that many people (including myself) really just don’t know what anthro is all about.

Essentially, anthropology is just the study of groups of people and their cultures—knowledge that anyone could benefit from learning.

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