Interview by Elias Strand and Lara Rasin, carried out over video on February 11, 2022. Edited by Lara Rasin.
Andrea Tank-Nielsen is a first-year bachelors student of Social Anthropology who also holds a degree in Documentary Filmmaking. In this short interview, we chat with Andrea about student life in Oslo, the connections between documentaries and anthropology, and more.
Welcome, Andrea! Let’s kick this off with where you’re from 🙂
I’m from Moss! And I moved to Oslo 2 years ago. 🙂
How old are you?
What’s your year of study & what study program are you in?
I’m a first-year bachelor student of Social Anthropology, currently in my second semester.
How have you enjoyed your two semesters so far? Any challenges, or has it been easy-peasy?
[Laughing] I think this is a study for everyone. It’s an education everyone can get something from.
I feel that it’s gone really well so far, that this is where I’m supposed to be in a way, and that this was meant for me.
Also, I think this is a study for people who like to challenge themselves intellectually and try to see – like Thomas Hylland Eriksen said – that everything connects with everything.
You started studying social anthropology during COVID, right? So what was it like to begin this degree in total pandemic mode?
I think UiO has done a great job. We as first-year students have actually been in the classroom a lot, as well. I’m getting to know my colleagues.
It was quite difficult to begin with because I didn’t know where anything was, and we did everything digitally. But now things have opened up more to being both hybrid and in school.
Why did you choose social anthropology?
Because my goal is to combine it with my other bachelor degree, which is in Documentary Filmmaking.
I’ve always been interested in filmmaking, in other cultures, and in social commentary documentaries. So, I thought I’d like to combine that with social anthropology.
How did you discover the sometimes esoteric field of social anthropology?
I watched a lot of documentaries that had to do with social anthropology and related issues, for example political problems.
I asked myself, How can I study this? I was trying to track down some kind of study, and I found one that actually combined social anthropology and documentary filmmaking…
But that was a masters program – so I had to begin with this bachelors program first [laughing].
Your recommendations for a few must-watch documentary films…
What’s the best part about studying at UiO?
It’s getting new insights from other students and having a lot of discussions.
I don’t like to read alone too much – I like to discuss the things I read. And UiO is an amazing environment for that.
What’s the best part about studying in Oslo?
It’s kind of private, but at the same time it’s intimate.
It is a big city compared to the city I lived in before, which is a very small one. Everybody knew everybody there, so Oslo is more private and intimate in a way.
Are you part of any student organizations?
One is SAPU – here, I’m kind of a potato 🙂 [editor’s note: in this context, «potato» refers to a helper/assistant who does various ad hoc tasks within an organization]
And I’m also in the OSI-Capoeira.
Your favorite thing to do on campus is…
I really like dancing with the OSI-Capoeira.
And also table tennis!
A piece of advice for those thinking about studying anthropology…
Hmm… Well once I met this student from Pakistan at the bus stop and we started to talk. We spoke about everything from evolution theories to religion and more. He was saying that after coming to Norway and studying here, he kind of became an atheist. This was quite interesting for me, and I’m starting to think that it’s super, super important for everyone to study.
Especially social anthropology, which has all these subjects like politics and things you don’t learn in schools. Power, for instance. Thinking about ruling and persuasion techniques, and how that’s incorporated in the school system – that’s what you get in social anthropology. You get new perspectives on things that are so important, like power and things you experience in daily life.
This article is a part of SAPU’s «Meet the Students» interview series. To read the first article in this series, head here!