March 23, 2012, by Claire

A day in the life of a Geographer… Francesca Marriot

Hello, my name is Francesca Marriott and one the mysterious geographers who, for reasons unknown, was not introduced at the start of the ‘A Day in the Life of a Geographer’ blog series. So I shall start off with a little background information about myself.

Fig.1 Points to any of the Geologists among you who can guess what type of rock I’m sitting on. Clue: taken on the path up to the Summit of Ben Nevis


This is me, Francesca Marriott, and I am a first year BSc Geography Student at the University of Nottingham. My interests lie mainly in the physical aspects, but I also love how the physical and human sides influence and interact with each other as well. I chose to study Geography due to the sheer diversity of the subject, as there are so many routes and pathways to take.

Whenever people question me about my course I am usually confronted with the stereotypical views and comments regarding colouring in or “ohh that’s just looking at rocks innit?”.

Many times I have sat in the bar among other first year students on courses such as Mathematical Physics, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine – all of whom believe that their course is more scientific and therefore superior. When faced with this argument, I like to respond with the idea of ‘relevance’. For example, take all the news headlines for a week. You are pretty much guaranteed to find a spatial or geographical aspect to all of them. Compare that with any of the previous mentioned subjects and Geography wins hands down. In my opinion, no other subject is more relevant and therefore important in the world we live in today.

I’m not really sure how much I can enlighten you in regards to being a first year geographer as all my previous bloggers have already been through it at some-point in their geography careers. All I can do is share with you my own experiences. So here it goes:

A Day in the life of a First Year Geographer….

At the start of the week I was in York for a long weekend getting lost among the old streets etc etc – just because you are a geographer does not mean you automatically have an inbuilt compass or an impeccable sense of direction. Although this was not related specifically to any work, it does highlight the great opportunity geographers have to travel in order to explore the subject and how geographical elements can be found in anything, anywhere. What stood out for me personally was simply how flat it was, in comparison to the undulating topography of my home – the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

This week I’ve been attempting to work my way through a pile of reading the size of K2! Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but my current to do list is quite long. However, the sun has been shining upon us which means I have been able to tackle some of this outside in the sunshine. (Another reason to love geography, I doubt you will find a chemist who is able to complete his lab work outside in such beautiful weather!)


Fig. 2 University Park Campus, Spring is definitely underway!

In addition to this, the first year field trip is nearly upon us where we will all be spending 4 days in the gloriously beautiful and hopefully sunny Lake District. A chance for us geographers to get out of the building and into the field, and yes do our colouring outside! The background reading for this trip is partly making up for the small mountain I have to read so I am fully prepared for it!

Other tasks I have attempted/progressed with/procrastinated over include working on a group statistical project on ‘Bats and Biomes.’ This consists of me wrestling with SPSS (a statistical analysis programme) and me trying to make sense and infer patterns of life from my results. As one wise lecturer once said, ‘any monkey can put numbers into a stats programme and generate data’ the key is in understanding and interpreting it, and that’s what separates us from statisticians.

Outside of my formal academic life, I’ve also been busy this week sorting out the final parts of some work experience and volunteer schemes, including some summer work experience with the RSPB and a work placement with Groundwork, which a community regeneration charity which focuses on improving areas economically  and socially through improvement of the environment. So there you go, one very busy little 1st year Geographer!

Lectures are drawing to a close now as my first year modules are coming to an end and exams will soon be on the horizon. The realisation has just started sinking in that my first year is nearly over and soon I will be moving onto my second year where marks actually matter in regards to my overall degree mark. In addition I am already hearing the odd murmuring about the word ‘dissertation’ and preparation for it which, in all honesty, is scaring me. But hopefully I have made a good start on what I hope will be a long and successful career as an academic geographer. Did any Geographer imagine where they are today 5 or 10 years ago? One thing I do know for certain though is that I am not short of pathways to take and to use a cliché here – ‘The world is my oyster!’ Unless of course ocean degradation and overfishing continues at the rates it is now. (See Richard Fields Earth and Environmental Dynamics Lecture for more information on this interesting and important topic!)

So there you go, a (hopefully interesting) insight into a week in the life of a first year Geographer!


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