The pseudonymous Rebekah Nathan is a cultural anthropologist enrolled as a freshman at her university. The enrollment happened between 2002 and 2003, when she lived in a dorm, ate at the cafeteria, attended classes like regular students, and got busted for taking alcohol. During the freshman period, Rebekah found out how students survived in the vicinity. The students advanced their dorm space using “lofts” and engaged in random hookups to satisfy their vast array of sexual encounters. Some students took most of their time looking for part-time jobs to finance their demands. The author uses the participant-observer approach in ethnography and cultural anthropology to get the actual values of her context. The book analyzed the typical life sets of students in colleges. It provides insights on modes of survival and ontological outlook in a student’s life.
Nathan’s book is ideally oriented to fit in the current context of a typical college student’s life. In her first chapter, “Welcome to AnyU”, she focuses on her life thrills as a student. The technicality of behaviors proves to have consequential importance. In the first week of student life as a freshman, Nathan realized occasional disorientation such as college navigation and alcohol rules within residence halls (Nathan 18). A standard American community college also faces such confusion once they admit first-year students. The freshmen are confused about locating the right lecture halls and abiding by rules such as alcohol use. At times, first-year students end up attending classes that are not meant for them.
In the second chapter, Nathan focuses on life within the dorm. The anthropologist expresses interest in the residential physicality, and she pays attention to the room doors and board bulletin (Nathan 19). The messages observed by Nathan are affiliated with health and academic insights. Some doors contained images that represented students’ personality and their mode of life. In the third chapter, Nathan writes about diversity in the student culture. Nathan posits that mutuality coordination enforces some form of experience that can promote engagement (Nathan 28). On the AnyU campus, Nathan realizes that students do not integrate across ethnicity and race. Macroaggressions are constantly directed at people of color, either automatically or unconsciously. However, the current generation of students is not defined by any form of discrimination. Students freely intermingle in a standard American community college, and their aggressive nature is psychologically directed to the administrational governance. Equally, students in the current colleges are focused on online entertainment and memes to the extent that they do not write messages on the doors or boards.
Nathan covers international students’ perceptions in the fourth chapter. International students have different perceptions of American college student culture. According to Nathan, American students use phrases like “how are you” and “see you soon” to open or close a conversation (Nathan 69). The two phrases dishearten international students when they realize Americans do not take the phrases at heart. A standard American college that contains international students has embraced the art of accepting American culture and their mode of opening or closing a conversation. Unlike Nathan’s period, nowadays, international students have improved their capabilities of synchronizing their ideologies to fit the American student setup. Chapter six contains Nathans’s outlook on how college students manage their lives (Nathan 107). The essential ritual of a student’s life entails signing up for a class. Some students have other practices, such as having planners, notebooks, and learning artifacts. In contrast, current students have such artifacts on their phones and laptops. Some colleges have installed biometric signage to replace the manual method of signing into a class.
It is a baffling experience when students care less about the educational vector and focus on their ideological necessities. Rebekah Nathan tackled the academic focus to unfold the ontological outlook of education synchronization. The cultural anthropologist unfolding the freshman project at “AnyU” university opened up the invisible and noticeable standards students use. Posing as a student, Nathan presented the truth of her study and highlighted the typicality of a student’s situation. The welcome week activities provided more insights into what happens to the students. To be accepted into the student culture, Nathan noted that it was fundamental for her to have an outgoing personality. However, it is not the case in all circumstances. Some students are absorbed and accepted in the system because they are perceived to be introverts.
Many things have revolutionized before and after Nathan’s study because college encounters many students each year; they enroll as first-year students. Therefore, the culture of the student setup can be influenced by the type of student in a given session. Nathan’s analytical research can be done over a short period and then becomes null and void. Students come from a diverse world, but the ethical setup makes them have a cohesive relationship. Technological advancements have enabled students to accept each other and resolve the parties based on their democratic understanding. International students have also synchronized their views about American community colleges and learned their way of life.
Nathan, Rebekah. My freshman year: What a professor learned by becoming a student. Penguin, 2006.