February 26, 2008

Technology is Great!

In preparation to apply for graduate school, I had to take the GRE.
While the merits of such exams and how representative they are of an individuals future success are extremely questionable, they are often a necessary evil in the grad school application process.In studying for the test, especially for vocabulary words, you just can’t beat flashcards.

Unfortunately flashcards have their drawbacks, especially for large word lists like the GRE requires - namely, you have hundreds of notecards lying around.

Technology to the rescue! For some time now, I’ve had great success using a program called iFlash (http://www.loopware.com/iflash/). Really, it got me through the intensive french program I took last summer.

Additionally, while I love the idea of using iFlash to study for the GRE, the thought of typing in all of the vocab words in the Barron’s guide really put me off. Then I remembered the iFlash Deck Library feature.
Basically, you can place flashcard decks that you have made online, on Loopware’s servers. Other users do the same. All of these are searchable by other users, right from within the program. Find one you like, and download it. Currently there are almost 2,000 decks in the library covering a gamut of subjects...

I found the GRE High Frequency Words, and the Complete Master Word List (over 4,000 flashcards that someone typed up!) and downloaded them.
The program helped me with the GRE (I did pretty decent). It also helped my buddy get through some of his medical school boards.

Rule of thumb: let technology help make your studying easier.
And get a copy of iFlash...*

*iFlash (as the name might imply) is Mac only software

February 25, 2008

An introduction of sorts

In a vain attempt to appear as if i have something interesting to say, I begin this endeavor.

 While I have done other "blogs" before, they were mostly geared toward specific events, such as my wedding (has it been a year and a half already?!?).

This collection of words and postings should be something different as it is primarily a place for me to chronicle my procession to and through, graduate school for anthropology. This is mainly an exercise for myself, but if any other future or current students gain some sort of insight from the process, then so be it.

As of this writing I have been accepted into an MA/PhD program, to begin this fall. I am currently studying Cultural Anthropology (with a strong inkling towards ethnoarchaeology) , with a focus on the American school of thought (which, when you think about where I'm from makes sense).

The most common thing that I encounter when telling people what I study is "So, you want to dig things up?" And that's if they even have any idea what anthropology is. Most just give me a blank look, obviously expecting me to study something more "normal" like chemistry, accounting, or even art. Most people I meet just cannot grasp what anthropology is or what anthropologists do. Or, why it is important. In the past when presented with the "you want to dig stuff up" question I would have said "No!", but recently I have been reconsidering it.
I know that it seems a bit odd to be going into a graduate program with doubts as to the (specific) direction I want to take, but I do like the aspect of archaeology, especially social archaeology and ethnohistory. If, in grad school, I can find some way to tie my interests in current culture and archaeological history, then I will.

With that wishy-washy part out of the way, I plan to concentrate my research on an area somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, but I have not decided on just where that is yet. I am most interested in the following topical areas: human rights, refugee situations, human interaction with their environment, religious practices, and conflict resolution. I firmly believe that within these areas I should be able to find something of interest to study in sub-Saharan Africa.

It has been a long and twisting road that has gotten me to this point, and I'm sure that what lies ahead will have it's fair share of twists and turns as well. During my undergraduate career, I was a non-traditional student, having returned to school after a long break. This put me in a position where I was 8-10 years older than many of my undergraduate classmates, and often almost as old as (or in some cases, older) than many of my professors. I believe this certainly afforded me a unique perspective on school and the subjects that I study.

 In the coming posts I will chronicle my adventures navigating that strange and mysterious land known as grad school...