Reflections on first academic term as a Geography Undergrad

The first academic term at Sussex University introduced very different methods of learning compared to those at A-level. It was especially new for me as I was returning to education after taking a year out between school and university to volunteer and travel abroad.

I found Fresher’s week exciting and attended the Pier Party as well as the first Geography Social and various Fresher’s fairs signing up for countless clubs (90% of which I am yet to attend!). It was a great way to meet new people and as I began my Geography course I felt more settled and relaxed into the new environment. Beginning the modules, I received direction from my tutor, lecturers and seminar professors on what to read and effective ways to learn. To begin relevant reading for the course I used small sections of writing taken from geographical books available online at Study Direct and, if I found a section interesting, I would then visit the library and take the book out to read more on the subject. I am also fortunate enough to have access to the Global Resource Centre’s library which has books specifically on human and physical Geographies as well as an advisor to ask questions about the books.

I was surprised by the ease of finding the relevant reading for each week and there were very few occasions where I could not get a specific book from either the library or the Global Resource Centre. Our module professors dealt with the availability issue by making a section of the text available online as well as suggesting other useful internet links or books around the subject.

The Geography BA course did not include a reading list prior to university, however I found out during the course that there are important reference books such as “The Diaries of Human and Physical Geography” as well as a textbook for my Study Skills Module (I already owned the diaries and did not purchase the text book as I felt I did not need it). I did not have to purchase any further reading as the library had very good availability at most times of the term. The only time I encountered a problem was near to coursework deadlines where books relevant to the essay questions were usually unavailable. This made planning essays more difficult as I did not have all the references I wanted. At the same time however, it also encouraged me to look further afield at other reading material and to look at the sources I already had in further depth.

I am now comfortable with using the library computer system to search for books, online journals and e-books and find this the most effective way to find resources for my course as I move into my second term. I now also use internet resources (such as TED talks, media sites etc) and of course the recommended reading from my module professors which leads me to further reading materials and areas of interest.

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