Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cities and Growing Older

It's amazing how growing older can completely change your outlook on life. When I was in my early 20s I thought I had my whole life planned out.  I was to get a Ph.d in Biological/Forensic Anthropology, work in a university and do cases on the side, get a man, and live in a big city doing "city things" (whatever the hell that means).  The outdoors and I did not get along and I was fine with that because I thought that I was not suppose to "do" the country.

In my mid-20s I was still on the city track, but the career focus took a slight turn.  I found out during my Masters program that I hated forensic anthropology, preferring to work with living people instead of dead.  I still wanted the Ph.D so I made a decision and switched my focus of study to Socio-Cultural Anthropology.  After three years at Michigan State I switched my focus even further - tossing the idea of examining the use of race in genetics research and changing it to understanding the intersections of national and ethnic identity within the UK.  Nothing really that drastic to be honest - I still saw myself with a Ph.D and working in the academy.

Now I am 28 and find my future to be more uncertain then when I was 20.  I am still studying and am in the middle of my fieldwork in England.  I love it and see myself really get more involved in issues of national identity, immigration, policy, ethnic identity, and ideas about democracy and civic participation.   So essentially I have gone from looking at dead people's skeletons to understanding how living people try to keep "others" out of "their country" - good stuff!  But what has drastically changed is my idea of where I want to live.  I find that I now don't like cities - I find them claustrophobic, sterile, and overwhelming.  Now I know cities are different all around the world, but the more I visit them the more I want to get out of them.  For me the countryside and the mountains replace architecture, busy city centers, and trendy nightclubs/bars.  Don't get me wrong, cities can be great  - but I realize it really is whatever floats your boat.  In my life, at this time, the concrete jungle is being replaced by rolling hills and mountainside valleys as places to explore and enjoy.  I am ok with this.  Who knows when I get older my feelings will certainly change again.  But until they do I plan to embrace my new tastes.

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