Sometimes it is difficult to find motivation to study and to relate to what you are learning. However, due to the broad nature of geography, it is easier than you think to bring your studies to life, and you don’t need to travel all around the world! You just have to look closer and think about the geographies of where you are or whatever you are doing in your day to day life, considering it from all aspects. Lecturers like to call this ‘thinking like a geographer’.
This weekend I visited the seaside town of Margate, Kent, where my Dad grew up. I visited many times as a young child to see my grandparents and for my Dad to catch up with old friends. I vividly remember the town looking very neglected and run-down, the decaying seaside attractions eerily quiet. Like many seaside towns, Margate was a popular holiday destination for Brits during the Victorian period, but with the rise of cheap package holidays abroad in the 1970s, it fell into decline. Click here for a brief history of Margate if you’re interested. Anyway, this weekend the Old Town area of Margate looked completely different – clean and bright, the cobbled Victorian streets no longer boarded up. The revival included an art gallery on the sea front, attracting people from all over the country, charming streets filled with expensive boutiques, salons, sweet shops, tailors, cafes, restaurants and more, the famous Dreamland Scenic Railway, created in the late 1800s, soon to open once again. This regeneration appears to be spreading outwards, showing the early signs of gentrification.
Gentrification is a topic often discussed at A level geography, however in the first year at Leicester it is touched upon when studying national inequalities in housing, income and education. This process whereby run-down areas are invested in governments, businesses and wealthier people who transform properties and raise their value, attracting further wealthy people and businesses. This ‘renewal’ often forces lower-income residents to migrate due to increasing prices and property values in the area. I found the changes that had taken place in Margate really interesting, bringing what I had studied to life, my Dad pointing out to me buildings which had changed hands and how different it was to when he was a child.
It wasn’t until after I got home I realised that the trip had brought my studies to life. Had I made the conscious decision to think like a geographer while I was there, ask more questions and look deeper, I probably would have got a lot more out of it! Anyhow I hope this inspires you to think like a geographer and realise you don’t need to travel halfway across the world to bring your studies to life!