I said earlier that I regret studying social anthropology, and this is still true. It wasn't the best choice. But it wasn't a total waste of time either, and there's a lot to be gained from reading ethnographies and becoming familiar with different groups of people around the world - which was, to be clear, a large part of my motivation for studying it in the first place.
I often think about what I would do if I were given free rein to create my own academic course (for imaginary students of exceptional motivation, intellect, and verve, naturally). I would focus on prehistory and pre-industrial societies - the world before the Industrial Revolution or before the Columbian Exchange, before things really started homogenising. I would include a considerable amount of formal training in historical linguistics, population genetics, cognitive science, source criticism of ethnohistorical writings and historical documents, and archaeology (both interpretation and excavation, the latter of which I confess I know little about in terms of how-to), but I would put in a lot of ethnography, too.
I realise that it's somewhat heretical to say this in modern anthropology departments, but I'm much less interested in how to do ethnographic fieldwork than in the evidence about human life gleaned from its use. Students of my hypothetical course would have to read and understand ethnographic information - not in a vague way ('the Etoro force their male children to drink the men's semen! Ewww!' or 'African tribal people have amazing rituals and whatever, I love their dances!') but in-depth, getting to grips with how the people in that society live(d). It would be about what people in different societies do, or did, and why they do or did it. That's the basic purpose of anthropology, and I see accurate ethnographic work as central and vital to this - as are linguistics and archaeology, if you want to really get the whys of human behaviour.
In discussing prehistory and society with people who have never studied the discipline, I am often struck by how little they know about how non-industrial and non-literate societies function. I am also struck by how lacking in curiosity they are about the real lives and livelihoods of people in pre-industrial societies, as if their only function is to be found in mirroring or in some way leading to us, to the world today. I see all kinds of amateur investigators of prehistory who are only interested in large-scale patterns and peculiar inter-regional exchanges - but not in the real substance of life in any community. I think both topics are interesting and deserve full treatment.
I'm glad I studied anthropology to the extent that I got to grips with some fascinating ethnographic works and spent hours every week interpreting and better understanding them. It gave me a much more complete view of what people are like, and I only regret studying social anthropology to the extent that course content, lectures, and exams failed to capitalise on the fascinating original subject matter of the discipline.
I should also say that, in discussing the same topics (prehistory and so forth) with social anthropology students, I have often been struck by their lack of awareness of prehistory and the methods that bring it to life, which is why my imaginary course would include a lot of content on those methods. Nothing about that, though, tells me that we need to give up on ethnography as a key component of a modern course in anthropology, and I would recommend reading good ethnographic research any day. It functions as a perfect antidote to vague, prejudiced, and simplistic thinking about non-industrial and non-literate human societies, and it doesn't deserve to rot in departments that have turned their attention to other things.