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Written by

Bianca de Loryn


College of Arts, Society and Education

Publish Date

7 April 2020

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Feeling good about anthropology

JCU student Jasmin Peer explains why switching courses is easier than you expect, and the impact her field trip to Papua New Guinea had on her studies and way of thinking.

Sometimes going to university and finding your way through a maze of options and possibilities is not as clear cut as it seems.

Anthropology student Jasmin Peer, who studied at JCU Singapore and Cairns, has a lot to say about that. She started out studying psychology and only later did she realise that anthropology was the better choice for her.

“It was luck, I must say. I was doing a Bachelor of Psychology in JCU Singapore. And I took a few anthropology subjects in Cairns. But I really connected to and liked anthropology, and a large part of me really wanted to explore it. When something makes your heart feel good, you should try it.”

By that time, Jasmin had already studied for one and a half years. JCU’s flexible Bachelor of Arts program allowed her to switch without losing too much time. “They managed to transfer my electives, all my optional subjects,” Jasmin says.

JCU students and residents of Kunguma, Papua New Guinea
Jasmin Peer with Papua New Guinean women

Anthropology forces you to start caring

She also explains why the switch to anthropology was such an important step for her.

“The lack of understanding between different groups of people and different cultures is what is causing a lot of the frictions in the world today. There’s also a lot of issues, not only issues over resources but fundamentally, we don’t understand each other. And we don’t care enough for each other. Anthropology forces you to start caring.”

What Jasmin liked best about studying anthropology was that it opened her mind to new ways of thinking.

“One of the core tenets is that you have to leave all your preconceived notions at the door. You have to. Upon that you build a healthy foundation of understanding and empathy,” she explains.

Putting knowledge into practice in Kunguma, Papua New Guinea

One of the highlights of Jasmin’s studies was her field trip to PNG, which was an eye-opener for her, but also a way to put everything she learned into practice.

“We have understandings of Papua New Guinea, we have understandings of different cultures. But being there is very different,” Jasmin says. “We had to go on our flight to Mount Hagen, and then it was a two-hour car ride up to Kunguma village itself. It is quite remote. It is the most beautiful place I have seen, genuinely.”

For Jasmin, her field trip to PNG was essential for her Bachelor’s (Honours) thesis. “I had to do a bit of fieldwork for my thesis, and I couldn’t have done that fieldwork if I didn’t go to PNG,” she explains.

Remain flexible with a Bachelor of Arts

Jasmin’s advice to future students is to keep your options open with a Bachelor of Arts. “You get to start with a lot of options. And then zero in on what’s important to you.  A lot of people don’t know about anthropology from the get-go, or they don’t know what sociology, psychology or anything really is made of.”

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