Well, I know it’s been awhile and a lot has happened since I last posted. Buckle up, because this is going to be a long post.
You may have noticed the tagline changed on the header from “The Adventures of a Future Osteoarchaeologist” to “The Adventures of a Future Archaeologist.” I’ve decided to change my focus a little and concentrate on general archaeology instead of osteo. It took a few months, but I realized two important things. First, it’s going to take a lot of extra classes and time to become an osteologist and while I really enjoy bones and find it fascinating what we can learn from them, I also really enjoy regular archaeology. Field school helped me realize that. I don’t really want to spend more time and money on extra classes at this point. I can always go back later on and take them if I want to as continuing ed. Second, my experience at the forensics lab in August gave me a lot to think about. Although forensics isn’t an area that I’m remotely interested in pursuing, something about that day changed me. I won’t say it gave me a distaste for skeletons, because I am still fascinated with bones and osteons, but there was a shift in interest. I can’t even say what it was. Maybe someday I’ll be able to put it into words, but for now I realized that maybe lab work isn’t my shtick. I enjoy being in the field and in the classroom both as a student and a teacher. Ultimately, I would like to be a professor and researcher since it jives with my background as a teacher. The idea of primarily being in a lab all day with skeletons doesn’t really appeal to me. So, there you have it. I’m focusing more on general archaeological methods for now.
I kept the blog name, though, because I like it and it’s still relevant to what I’m doing.
I mentioned that I had been accepted at Oregon State University. I started classes at the end of September taking 6 hours (2 classes) and very quickly realized that I had gotten in over my head. Not with the material, mind you, but the pace of the classes was brutal. OSU is on the quarter system, which means their classes are faster paced than traditional semester. I thought I would be able to handle it, and I could, but it took a huge toll out of my family life. I was constantly stressed out because I had to study, there was a quiz I needed to do, a test coming up, a project to complete…it was too much. I was pulling A’s in both classes, but I was going to bed at 11 or midnight every night. That’s fine if you don’t have to work full time. I was tired and irritable at work all the time. When it started affecting my ability to do my job properly, snapping at my family, and wore me down to the point where I got physically sick and was mentally exhausted, I knew I had to stop. I was halfway through, but I couldn’t do it anymore. I had learned a very valuable lesson and wasn’t sad about it. I also learned that I had a knack for archaeology and my professor told me I had a real knack for figuring out the puzzles and putting all the pieces together and coming up with some great plausible theories about sites.
So, I dropped my classes, took a deep breath, and started looking for a different program that would work for me. The problem is that there aren’t a lot of anthropology programs online and the ones that are available are either super expensive, on the quarter system, or both! I was about to give up when I stumbled across a program I hadn’t heard of. Western Illinois University has a brand new anthropology program online and it had everything I needed: comparable to OSU’s tuition and on the semester system! The deadline for spring semester was approaching fast, so I quickly sent off an application and my transcripts. As expected, I was accepted a few weeks later.
Two weeks ago I went to register for classes and realized that the only classes available require Intro to Cultural Anthropology as a prerequisite, which I was taking at OSU. There’s was only one class I could take, so I could only get 3 hours. The problem is that I need to take 6 hours in order to qualify for federal loan deferral (that’s a whole other story in itself, but TLDR is that I am using deferral to pay down my current school loans but also to save up to pay off the BA when I’m done, save money for graduate school, and separately have started a fund to cover PhD expenses for moving to the UK down the road…yes, I’m that determined!). The government will not allow me to take 3 hours at one school and 3 hours at another and still qualify for a deferral.
I did some thinking and talked to my adviser. I can delay starting at WIU for up to a year, so in the spring I’m going to take 6 hours at South Texas College online and transfer those credits. That will qualify me for all the classes I need to take and also help me maintain deferral status. I’m taking Intro to Cultural Anthropology and Intro to Physical Anthropology. I don’t really need the Intro to Anthro, but the MA at Humboldt is in Physical Anthropology (emphasis on archaeology track), so I figured I should at least take an intro class! I will start at WIU in the summer and continue from there. I have to do 30 hours total at WIU for the BA and that’s it! That’s not that much at all.
So, it’s been a rollercoaster of a few months. There was a time in November when I was thinking about scrapping it all because it seemed everything had come crashing down around me. I had a, “WHAT AM I DOING?!” moment again. I thought about how much I loved field school, how much I enjoyed my Intro to Arch class last summer, how much fun I had at TARL, and how much I enjoyed volunteering at the Archaeology Festival in October at TARL educating the public. I knew I couldn’t quit. I had to keeping moving forward…and then I found WIU.
It’s just a reminder that you can plan all you want, but sometimes you have to walk another path to reach your goal. I am not upset that this isn’t working out the original way I thought it would because I know that this way is better! I know that sometimes you have to walk down the wrong road first in order to find the right path. There are many ways to the top of the mountain. Some paths are easier than others, but all lead to the same place.
Or should that be…there are many ways to dig a test unit, but some are better than others? Should I follow the stratigraphy versus using dedicated metric units? 10 cm? 5 cm? Should I screen the spoil? Oh forget it. I’m done going metaphorical now.