Let’s get one thing straight before we begin. I had never been “up North” ever, in my entire life. The furthest North I had been was to Nottingham on a Year 10 History trip; other than that I had lived my life in “the South” ferrying between the South East and South West. You could say that when the opportunity arose in the first year module ‘Reinventing Britain’ to go on a field trip to the North East of England, I must have been excited by the prospect…and I was, for numerous reasons, but mainly so I could say, “yes, I’ve been up North!”.
The aim of this fieldtrip, other than getting those of us bound to the South to explore the Northern parts of our country, is to highlight the North/South divide and how urban regeneration is attempting to close that gap. It’s a fairly straight forward course, nothing too vexing. It may even open your eyes up to things you’ve never considered before. Obviously there was coursework to complete on this fieldtrip, a 1500 word on assessing the efforts of the NE region to counter uneven regional development (in a nutshell).
As with most fieldtrips, we were encouraged to explore the sites visited and collate as much information as possible; this was the biggest freedom I have ever had on a fieldtrip, we literally could use anything in order to construct our argument as long as it made sense. There was no longer a teacher instructing us to write notes here, take pictures there and ask questions here. My favourite part of the trip was when we got to explore the city of Newcastle. There was no rules. Only to get back to coaches within the given time frame. We had six hours at our disposal.
I travelled around with my friends Anna and Leigh; we certainly had a laugh, did a bit of shopping and also saw some of the sites like The BALTIC Art Gallery, The SAGE Music Centre and The Millenium Gateshead Bridge. I really thought it was fantastic! Newcastle was such a lovely city to visit and really made me realise that there is more to life than the South East! I’ve included a link to an Instagram collage I made, just to show you some of the sites we saw on that day:
Instacollage of Newcastle, April 2014
Admittedly, it wasn’t all fun and games, we still had to attend lectures at Newcastle University, Durham University and at some of the sites we visited also. The weather wasn’t great either, particularly when we visited Sunderland! There is no doubt, I’m sure what this gentleman was saying on Sunderland’s shipping industry was interesting and vital to our greater understanding BUT when we were stood on a shipping dock in terrential rain and gale-force winds it was quite evident none of us wanted to be there; I have never seen students move so fast when the talk had finished and we were able to make it back on to the coaches!
Overall, the trip wasn’t as “exotic” as some other first year undergraduate field trips on offer at other universities. Despite this, it still proved to be a hilarious trip, encouraging you to make more friends on your course (apologies for the cliche, but it’s true!) and also value the importance of a warm coat in the spring and Wi-Fi (it was so scarce that I even made up an adaptation of “I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserables with my English studying, flatmate Dan, via text message)!
BA Geographers, this module will be the bane of your life and the trip will be an eye-opening experience. Enjoy it, even the bits you don’t enjoy on the trip will make you laugh when you look back on them!