My time in Geography

My name is Joe Alexander and I am in my final semester studying the Master of Geography at the University of Melbourne. During my time in Geography at Melbourne I have been lucky enough to go on many field trips that have taken me to all corners of Australia and overseas.

I completed a Bachelor of Environments majoring in Geography at Melbourne. Following 6 months working in the sewers of Victoria, I decided to head back to uni and enrolled in the Master of Geography. During my Masters I have spent half my time completing more geography subjects (and going on more great field trips!) and the other half completing a research project investigating the climate of Tasmania during the last Ice Age.

One of the great things about studying geography at Melbourne is the opportunity to study the natural sciences while also investigating how we as humans impact and interact with the world around us. Luckily for geography students, the best way to explore these issues is to participate in field classes that visit spectacular landscapes and fascinating cultures across Australia and the world. Here are the two field classes that influenced me the most:

(View of the Tasman Glacier: It is retreating due to climate change.

New Zealand – Global Climate Change in Context The New Zealand Field Class was a 14-day trip through the picturesque South Island of New Zealand. The objective of this class was to investigate how the natural environment records evidence of past changes in the climate through things such as glaciers, stalagmites, lake beds and ice cores. To do this we climbed mountainsides, embarked upon caving expeditions, and sketched our way through countless valleys carved out by massive pre-historic glaciers. We also found time to fit in a boat tour of Milford Sound, fly in helicopters over modern glaciers and swim in as many crystal-blue lakes as we could find.

(Not for the faint hearted: Our scientific permits allowed us to venture beyond the limits of the tourist section of this New Zealand cave.)

East Timor – East Timor Field ClassThe East Timor Field Class consisted of a 12-day trip across Timor-Leste, which is only a 45-minute flight from Darwin but can seem like a world away from Australia.  Here we met with many locals and travelled the country in four-wheel-drive vehicles to gain appreciation of the struggles and opportunities they face as a worn-torn developing nation. We were guided by researchers who had worked in Timor for many years and we learnt immense amounts about their culture and way of life. We swam at stunning tropical beaches, drank hand-picked coffee in towering mountains and explored scared cave sites. This trip was the most challenging I went on, but by far the most rewarding and best subject I have done in my time at Melbourne. Highly recommended!

(Beetlenut ritual:  We were welcomed to the coffee-growing mountain region of Timor with an offering of Beetlenut.)