There’s a crisp bite to the air. The leaves are looking tired. People flock to cafes for the long awaited pumpkin spice latte. This could only mean one thing – hello, September!
September, for many of us, signifies the end of summer and the return to education – whether it be school, college or university. Students seem eager, arriving with their newly sharpened pencils, fresh notepads and (my personal favourite) juicy highlighters. ‘This year, I will be organized ‘ they convince themselves; this determination gradually fades away with the life of the trees.
My patience with hazy summer days was just about at an end before September decided to finally show itself, fresh faced and glowing gold. I’ve been told that wishing summer away is an unforgivable sin but in truth I just wanted to proceed to my third year of university, one that could have (should have, would have?) been my last. Instead, I chose to take an extra year under the guise of ‘honors’ with the hope of becoming more marketable. And maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t quite ready to give up my love affair with Geography.
This is the first year that my entire schedule is focused solely around Geography (having previously completed courses with no relevance to my program, just to fulfill requirements – the Canadian educational system confuses me at the best of times). I’m pretty excited about that, in fact, I’ve very excited. In a desperate attempt to win converts away from the ‘Geography sucks lol’ team, here are the five courses I’m taking this semester, and why each are important (or not).
Introduction to Environmental Issues, 2nd year
Although I am still (and worryingly so) unaware of the exact direction I want to wander once university is over, I know that it will somehow involve the great outdoors. And what a beautiful place the outdoors is – so beautiful infact, that it pains me to think that it is become damaged due to human negligence . We’ve all heard how important it is to reduce, reuse and recycle but I’d be a little more satisfied with knowing the details behind it. What is it that went wrong, and how exactly can we, as small fleshy individuals rectify it, scientifically speaking? History should always be learnt, so history cannot be repeated.
Geography of Italy, 3rd year
Italy has always played an important role in my life. Simply put, it was the first foreign soil that I step foot on which inevitably started the ball rolling for my adventures in travel. Chosen as an elective, I can only hope that there is a field trip to an Italian restaurant, or heck, even Italy itself. Well…maybe not but the thought of showing off my new found knowledge to M, who claims he’s Italian (not Italian background) will suffice.
Urban Historical Geography, 3rd year
‘So do you want to be an urban planner?’ I’m frequently asked by intrigued non-geographers, who assume that becoming a teacher or an urban planner are my only options. Actually, I’d rather focus my attention on the natural details of the earth, what with having a fickle belief in humanity and all. Having said that, the story behind the shift from nomadic tribes to early settlements and from the first cities to our modern day urban world should be interesting to study. …What’s that? The course only delves back as far as the Industrial Revolution? Well that’s a little frustrating – sometimes an expat European just craves old.
Advanced Vector GIS, 4th year
GIS (or Geographic Information Systems) is a life path that I hope to pursue, despite my lack of computer skills. It’s a fast paced, well paid business that’s wonderfully dynamic in regards to career branches. It’s a little more programming and a little less geography for my liking, but the coupling of stats and maps is enough to turn my head. If you’re still none the wiser about what GIS is, I suggest you click here (don’t be shy, after months of studying and research, I still find it hard to define). The vector aspect pertains to how the data is displayed, which in this case is points, lines and polygons as opposed to the counter method using grids and cells (known as raster). This course will pose as my toughest enemy but once conquered, can become my greatest ally.
Geography of USA, 2nd year
My timetable was a looking a little lonely so I decided to give Italy a friend. Make way for the USA! I wanted to take this course some semesters back, but time was not of the essence. The USA is so rich in cultural and physical diversity; my weekend trip to NYC is starting to showing it sepia roots. I’d love to experience it all in person rather than on paper someday and my shiny new citizenship will definitely ease border crossing. I suppose I’m just waiting out the months until I’m 21. In the meantime, this’ll have to do. Yeehaw!
The amount of people who are surprised by my major choice are, quite frankly, shocking. No, I’m not doing psychology, or sociology for that matter. And no, I certainly am not doing graphic design (no offensive intended if you do). I’d just rather study a program unique in its compliments of art and science, human and physical, global and local. This September, I’ll shout to the golden leaves and juicy highlighters ‘I’m a geography student and I’m proud’.