Falling (back) in Love with Geography.

I realized just the other day that for a blog entitled ‘Life, Love and Sedimentology’ ,so far the blog has been heavier on the Life and Love (more on that later) and pretty bare on the ground in terms of Sedimentology. This I realized was also a major flaw in my plan for living in Oulu- after the initial month of hectic arrival related work- meeting new people, sorting out Erasmus paperwork , new house stuff and so on , which keep your mind and body eternally occupied , everything is fantastic- you have , what I regard as a necessity in life – ‘Holy work’. This holy work is just work – whether you get paid for it , of whether it’s just day to day activities , or just something you really love doing but don’t get paid- but its defining characteristic is that -you think about doing, you want do it, you feel happy doing it and feel happy after you have done it. It is very important I think- but the work I think I was born to do is the work I was doing in the first month , physical and practical work-much like moving into a new country , meeting new people , buying things and all the stuff I had to do this first month. So when this stuff died down, then I need new things to do. This quite obviously, should be STUDYING, the reason I came to Oulu in the first place.

But like many other students, I occasionally have little motivation to study, but perhaps unlike other students I have done other work in my life that I really loved – and this isn’t studying, this is practical work – working outside , with things , with my hands and my mind, with physical stuff . So occasionally , like this last week , I find myself sitting in front of my textbooks , reading about things that seem very detached not just from what I want to be doing as my day to day work , but with concepts that I find very distant from what I feel is real and important in the world. So just the other day I was sitting in the library reading my text book and I realized this. I realized that in the past when I have felt like this, out of love with my degree , with geography , unattracted to my degree-wife that I am married to for the next two years , that in the past I have done abysmally in my studies at these times ,and so I came to the conclusion that there must be a better way. So I remembered back to final semester last year , where I did well in my studies , where I could focus on my work , writing my dissertation proposal  ,feeling geography was important and relevant and worth getting up early for and going to bed late for , when I was proud to say ‘I am Cameron , I am a student, I love geography’. And I knew it was possible to love geography again. So I got some paper, wrote down ‘why geography is great’ at the top and tried to fall back in love with geography. I began writing on the back of a receipt, then moved to another receipt, and I got these reasons why I love geography and why studying it sets me on fire. My notes, in their original form are:

Receipt 1.

why Geography is great

  • explaining what you see.hear.smell.
  • a simple science of explaining the world through the eyes of a human
  • cave man science
  • will be difficult
  • exploring wonders of world.
  • broadest science
  • if you can’t hit with a stick its not real physical geography
  • human geogaphy-pop psychology-talking a load of rubbish

Receipt 2.

Falling back in Love with Geography

Not Magic- all visible

  • honest, basic
  • rocks ,seas, the trees
  • people
  • Leicester-rocks , fog, soil , mountains, clouds , storms , rivers, ice, lakes, animals
  • here-Animals, ecology, humans +society

Animals?Lakes?

Wolves?-Migration

Ecology-Animals-Societal thing

-VISIBLE

And in just these few confused words written on the back of two cafe receipts, I had fallen back in love with geography, with the raw science of understanding the world and its processes in the broadest sense, the most honest discipline, all-encompassing wonderful geography! So if you ever feel tested to reject your studies, if like me your love for education, university and your discipline has died, I recommend this- write a list of the wonders of your subject and fall back in love with it. Geography may seem like a dorky subject , and there are many of the dorky, walking boot and walking trousers wearing , super-prepared , super-sensible , ‘going to become a geography teacher’ or ‘environmental management consultant’ geographers out there , who can tell you the population and GDP of Panama ,but have never been to Panama ,never seen Panama, have never spoken to a person from Panama, who have never lost all their money in a Panamanian bar, who have never fallen in love with a Panamanian woman. And I guess they’re cool too. But there are also geographers who live in and study the world, who use their own case studies of their own experiences, who colour in their own maps (I made a map yesterday), who find the world tantalizing and want to understand it, and that’s why they study it. I remember my old geography teacher in secondary school, a huge 7 foot giant of a man, who’d travelled the world, been here, been there, had ridden through Vietnam with him and his tiny girlfriend on a tiny moped, had had a hundred jobs and was once a grave digger ,and really cared about the world and people more than he cared about scientific journals.

So now, for me,  geography and university education isn’t just a great experience, a means to an end, the reason how I met all these people, came to Finland and all the other things I have seen and done since I started studying. It can be my holy work- I think geography can get me out of bed early, and keep me colouring in the maps till late, and even reading books, which I usually avoid like the plague.

So yes, a Geographer. I remember two other such revelations of falling back in love with geography, once in the natural history museum in London when I realized I had been studying what the exhibits were trying to describe to me, and another time riding the train from Leicester to Devon and realising I could explain the flowing  landscape that I could see out the window. I had another revelation in a lecture in rivers as well ,where I swear I had a minor enlightenment and suddenly realized the meaning of life, the universe and everything-‘that the rivers and the moutain were brothers’, but that passed later that day, so yeah. I might not be able to convince you why geography is so great, and I do get jealous of the big booming, pure, ideological subjects, such as Maths (magical numbers that connect EVERYTHING), psychology (studying mine and your HUMAN MINDs) or architecture (designing big beautiful buildings), the magic disciplines, or the simple engineering (gears and stuff), but for now I’m fine as a geographer.

So yeah, I am currently studying:

Wildlife Management-(street name ‘Wildman’)-how you can save endangered species by shooting them

Ecological Methods-(street name ‘Eco-Meth’) the science of philosophy and wale ear wax

Conservation of Biodiversity- Begins next Monday, I wait with baited breath!

Changing Europe-(street name ‘Europe’) formation of this big bizarre place just west of Asia that we all live and is weirdly rich and important

Survival Finnish-class collectively struggle through a unique, interesting and slightly useless language

Environment and Society-How humans ruined the world and continue to do so- ‘guilt trip studies’

I’m not sure if I’ll return to education , books and studying after my next two years of university – I still know what a love I have for working outside , working with my hands , working with people. But for the next two years, I’m a student, a geographer and a gentleman.

And just incase you thought I was getting boring , talking about loving geography and maps and studying- later on tonight me and my famous German friend , the Dove , are taking the night train to Helsinki and then a ferry over to Tallinn,Estonia where we are going to live their together like king and queen for a few days , eating fine cheeses ,cakes and pastries, drinking the cheapest finest Estonian wines, lounging around the Old City, eating pistachio nuts, and generally having a whale of a time and doing whatever we feel like!

Byeeee!

 

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Cameron (Finland)

About Cameron (Finland)

Cameron has now graduated for the University of Leicester. I am Cameron, currently living in Oulu, Finland for my Erasmus year and studying Geography...Physical Geography (BSc) to be precise. I’ll tell you what it’s like to be me, a 3rd year geography student at the northernmost geography department in the world.

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