My name is Abby Evans and I am an Anthropology and Africana Studies double major at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. I am a second semester junior, and I’ve chosen to spend this semester on the adventure of a lifetime in South Africa. On Wednesday, January 23rd I am flying to Durban and beginning my semester at the University of Kwazulu-Natal at the Howard Campus! I am hoping to take this semester to live my academic passions and explore myself through new friendships and experiences.
I have titled my blog “Digesting Culture” since I am obsessed with the field of sociocultural anthropology and never stop thinking about food… I mean really… it’s on my mind all of the time. One thing I have learned to recognize about both of my loves, is that they actually have a lot in common. Like trying new foods, anthropology requires an individual to challenge their preconceived notions of comfort and the world and attempt to become a member of cultures that are unlike their own. We often say that our job, as anthropologists, is to “Make the strange, normal; and the normal, strange”. As I look forward to this incredible adventure in South Africa, I m hoping to do just that. I want to take my field and put it to the test. I want to eat foods that I never dreamt of existing. I want to adventure into parts of the world that will make me feel uncomfortable at first and question why. I want to build relationships with people who I otherwise wouldn’t have the privilege of knowing. And most of all, I want to feel my heart beat faster when I remember all of the experiences that I have had, that I’m still having, and that I will have in the future. I am going into this experience with an open mind, heart, and sense of self. I am so ready to admit that I need this… (whatever “this” may be!) I am hoping that this blog will serve as a way for my loved ones to stay in touch and to know that I am doing well. Besides that, I am hoping for it to tell my honest story of being absolutely terrified for this adventure to start and the blank page that comes next in having no expectations, other than to live. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said; “the purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived & lived well”, and it is with that mindset that I am going into the most ambiguously anticipated time of my life. Bring it on, world!