Samantha Zuhlke: “What Do You Do With That?”

Samantha Zuhlke is currently an intern with National Geographic Education Programs. She graduated from Colgate University this past May with a degree in Geography and a minor in Political Science. She loves to travel and explore new places, some of her favorites being the southwestern portion of the United States, Rome, and Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Sam_Zuhlke_Pic2.jpgAny Geography major will tell you “What do you do with that?” is the first question you are asked after telling someone that you are, in fact, a Geography major and explaining that “Yes, Geography is something you can major in.”

Geography is a misunderstood discipline in the United States. Our neighbors to the north in Canada and across the pond in Great Britain have a much better understanding of Geography and as it would follow, a much higher level of respect for it as a study area than we do. There is a far lesser chance that British students will have to face assaults from random passersby about how they will ever be able to make a career out of “making maps.” Newsflash: that’s Cartography, NOT Geography.

The United States seems to be under the misconception that Geography is nothing more than archives of maps and lists of figures and facts. Any trivia night I go to is marred by the assumption that I am a walking encyclopedia of country capitals. People become strangely angry to find out that I do not know the capital of every country in the world and therefore will not be the team’s savior in the “Geography” category.

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