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.
Any 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.
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,
our college graduation this past May, two friends and I road-tripped
across the country. We planned a manifest destiny, starting at our small
liberal arts school in upstate New York and ending in Seattle,
Washington. We traced a giant “U” around the country: we explored civil
rights history in D.C. and Birmingham, camped on sand dunes in Texas,
hunted for aliens in Roswell, hiked the Grand Canyon, wondered at the
prehistoric beauty of Joshua Tree, bought cherries from a roadside stand
in California, and wound along the 101 to our final destination in
One of my favorite stops on the trip was New
Orleans. I was blown away by the unique spirit of the French Quarter,
hardly believing that the architecture, with its sculpted iron balconies
and relaxed mansions, existed within the borders of our own country.
The integration between environment and city was beautiful and
compelling, exemplified in the local cuisine, tourism, and fishing
economies. That the residents’ way of life and the environment were
twined was obvious; one would not exist without the other.