The Truth Behind a Geology Degree

There’s a lot of colouring in.

I am a baby in the Geological studies world. I’ve only just finished my first year of studying Geology and Physical Geography where I spent a lot of time having absolutely no idea what was going on and coming out of lectures thinking they were in a different language. I didn’t really know what I was expecting, I mean, I chose to study those specific modules at that specific university so I can’t really complain right? There were a lot of things that I would have benefitted from knowing before choosing Earth Sciences.

1. It’s a lot more Difficult than I Expected

If you’re currently studying geography A level or even geology A level (if your college is cool enough), and you think you may want to study geology at degree level then prepare yourself because that basic knowledge of volcanoes is assumed and they hurl you in at the deep end. In my second lecture of dynamic solid earth which started with geochemistry, we covered a semester of A level chemistry in 45 minutes. Bearing in mind, I hadn’t studied chemistry in 2 years, I was so lost. And I was terrified. I did not sign up for chemistry. No thank you.

I still am not sure what this was going on about. If anyone ever says the words “Stereonets” to you, run away.

It didn’t stop there. In the second semester we had a module on palaeontology and palaeobiology which took up 5 contact hours a week. More than this, I was convinced that my lecturer was speaking a different language most of the time. Learning about the anal system of a Brachiopod was really not my forté and stressed me out more than it should’ve. It wasn’t really what I thought I’d be studying and it’s definitely something to look for when looking at Earth Science degrees.

2. You’re Doing a Legit Science

When you tell people that you study geology, their initial reaction is “ew you study rocks” but then they do understand that it’s a difficult and well respected degree to have. You learn everything from GMOs to statistics. You’re likely to have an understanding of both essays and scientific research. Your job prospects are pretty damn good, especially if you have geography in there with it.

3. You do Colour In

Okay okay so you tell anyone that you’re studying Geography and Geology and they say “so all you do is colouring in right?” Well, they are kinda right. You do A LOT of colouring in if I’m honest. Sometimes it’s literally drawing fossils with your GCSE art qualifications and sometimes it’s drawing fault lines in the field.

If someone’s accuses you of drawing, you proudly agree that that is the majority of your degree and then find some way of judging their degree. For example, if they study engineering they also draw and if they study communications, all they do is learn how to talk to people.

4. There are Field Trips and They are Cold

Having just finished my first year, I can confidently say that sleeping in a caravan in Pembrokeshire in March while it was snowing has not been a highlight of my university experience. Luckily for me, I managed to escape after 2 days but that’s another story.

With an Earth Science degree, you will 100% have at least 1 field trip every year. It’s actually a requirement from the Geological Society in order to become a certified geologist. The field trips actually are so helpful (especially if you have no idea what’s going on in lectures). Being able to see features in the field help to solidify how the processes of rocks form and just like what was going on 350 million years ago (a lot btw).

Try to enjoy being cold while drawing pictures of rocks, it’s some of the best times of your degree.

5. Not Everyone is like Howard from Fresh Meat

After watching Fresh Meat, I genuinely thought that all geologists were nerdy male scientists who spent their time travelling to holiday destinations with cool rock formations. I was partially wrong. In my degree, I would say that it is a 50/50 split between genders and most of the people are actually normal and will do normal student things (like clubbing and taking part in societies). Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely nerds on my course, but I’ve managed to make a group of friends who don’t just talk about rocks all the time.

6. No Matter How Hard you Try, you LOVE Rocks

So when I joined my degree I was set that I thought rocks were boring and that I would hate staring at them for extended periods of time. That maybe lasted 4 weeks. Looking at rocks like the one below under a microscope really changed how I think everyone felt about rocks. They’re stunning. Not only this, but they tell a story about the environment, the climate and the geography of what that time period was like.

The moment I realised I love staring at rocks was during a practical and we were staring at a trilobite. I just remember thinking that this species went extinct like 250 million years ago but we can still look at them today to deduce where the trilobite would have lived, the environment in which it died and what this meant for the global climate at the time. I just thought that it was kinda cool that a tiny dead organism could show that.

Just accept that you get excited by rocks and move on.

Dear America, please stop using GMOs

To whom this concerns, 

If you knew how dire the situation was, you would understand. If you are going to rely on a product when you’re unaware of the consequences, please listen to me. 

For years and years now you have been relying on a product that has been unintentionally destroying your ecosystems. It has been changing the way you create products and it has been destroying other organisms in the process. To be honest, I’m not sure you can fully recover from this. For years now, you have been changing the face of your country. Your farms have changed from extensive family-owned farms to being intensive and commercialised with the small families not being able to earn a living anymore. I know you want your economy to thrive and grow by expanding your financial sector and allowing trans-national corporations to use your landscape for profit but please, it’s not going to help. Eventually, all of this exploitation will cause degradation of your environment to such an extent that it won’t be farmland anymore but rather, it will be development for urban landscape and your food will have to be imported from other, more renewable sources. This doesn’t sound like a solution. This sounds like you’re ignoring a problem that’s going to put stress on your future.

By farming soybean and corn to be genetically modified, you have been contaminating 90% of your landscape. Soybean and corn is used in animal feed and is also consumed by humans. Do you really want your citizens to be consuming a product without their knowledge? Is that really fair or ethical? Do you think it’s a coincidence that other countries such as Kenya have banned your products from entering their country? Do you think it’s a coincidence that 16 EU nations voted against GM crops all together? Their population is aware that GM crops have unknown consequences for both them and their environment. They don’t want to risk potential health effects on the future generation. They don’t want to degrade their environment by creating an ecosystem that relies on monoculture. What if this fails? If one crop contracts a virus, they all will. Then what will you do? Create a new GM crop? The cycle will continue until eventually, the whole ecosystem will fail. 

I know you think that it’s a solution rather than a problem because you are ‘over-populated’ and stuck in a Malthusian trap whereby you think your society will collapse without these crops. You’re wrong. There are ways of working with the environment that doesn’t involve biologically engineering organisms to withstand everything. By allowing family-run farms to create a diverse range of crops, you’re able to increase your biodiversity thus allowing your ecosystems to be restored. From this, a multiplying effect could occur. Now you’ve increased your natural ecosystems, these can be used to create a balanced food chain in which your population can use without exploitation. 

Please open your eyes. The only way these products have been approved is because the companies that make them are the ones approving them. You might hear that barely any GM foods are served to your population but in reality, that cow you just reared? It was eating your GM soybeans. That papaya you just harvested? It was engineered to survive viruses in its environment. There are 120 varieties of GM crops that are regulated in your country. How many are in the EU? One. 

So please take into account everything I have said; after all, it’s your whole country that’s at stake here. 

Kind regards, 

Everyone else

 

Reference:

Cover image: GM Crops. Future Food