An Introduction…

Hey guys! I’m Eleanor. Unlike many of the other bloggers here sadly I’m not from an exotic location half way across the world – just from good old England.

I’m currently in third year (my gosh time really does fly) studying MA Geography, with a particular interest in political and economic geography; physical geography pretty much being my arch nemesis. I chose to come to Edinburgh definitely NOT because of the weather, it really does put a downer on my life, but on reflection I guess I really wouldn’t  have it any other way. I find Edinburgh to be a truly inspiring city – from your classic tourists destinations such as the b-e-a-utiful castle, to the hidden underground bars home to a vending machine selling alcoholic ice-cream (AMAZING, I know); there really is so much to discover year on year.

Through my honourable role as a social media rep, I’ll be sure to give you those insider insights into both the city and University of Edinburgh, hoping to travel and experience as much as I possibly can in the next coming years.

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time . is . flying.

Wow Its mid-October…can I even call it that? It’s the 21st. How has time gone so fast…dammit that means its only 4 days till the next essay is due. What fun. But they do say that time flies when you are having fun.

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It’s almost certainly everything but the lectures which are enjoyable part of uni. Meeting new friends, bumping into people I met in first year, avoiding those places I went last year (although the meadows on a Saturday night isn’t really that bad) and just generally being a student. I guess those days when I make it to lectures on time, and I understand whats going on, im not falling asleep, my pen is working… those days are a bonus. And yes sometimes lectures are really interesting. I think its random facts I like the best (hopefully im not just memorising them in case of pub quizzes). Did you know that a bear desnt actually hibernate? Their metabolism and body heat don actually drop that much; really wat they do is called torpor.  Also the potato and the sweet potato aren’t even in the same taxonomical family. Also the shape of a leaf has a big influence on it’s temperature. Leaves with serrations – called teeth break up the eddies around the leaf and create turbulence. Is that getting a bit nerdy? Am I getting to excited be science. Oh well.

In any case; sweet corn kernels were originally black not yellow…and that just seems strange

And another thing I’ve learnt…

Tengo que escribir mi ensayo.


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Edinburgh is all about passion

Since I arrived to Edinburgh I’ve met incredible, inspiring and admirable people; from professors to students from many different schools of the University. All of them come from different countries and backgrounds, have different stories, ideas and ways to understand the world; still, all of them have something in common, and that is their passion.

Most of the times that you move to someplace new, you’re full of expectations and uncertainties. And the courses that you’ll take, professors and classmates are one part of these feelings, even more in the first weeks when everything is confusing and overwhelming, but afterwards all the pieces fall together and everything starts to make sense.


Person carrying up water in a Venezuelan slum. Photo by Nikolai Elneser.

Right now I’m taking a course about development, its principles and practices (yes, very theoretical – and for a biologist, that’s a total challenge). There we discuss about development theories, how they’re being implemented, if there’s any other way to do it, if the current approaches are making this world more equal and fair, discussing about poverty and gender inequality. The conclusions, most of the time, aren’t hopeful or positives (it’s a hard world, we all know that) but, despite that, there is one professor talking about these subjects, making you inquire about them, and motivating you to come with new ideas and questions. Because, at the end, it’s passion that motivates her interests.

Passion. That powerful and full of life feeling that makes you go all the way to achieve a goal, will take you anywhere to fight for a cause and that you’ll never be able to take out of your system.

What about giving a monetary value to nature? Useful, but when you think about numbers, not many people get exited (not the same with money though). Inspiring is how the professors and classmates can get you into the subject, argue different points of view with no fear of getting it wrong, struggling but at the same time enjoying learning new concepts and skills (like R #dramafaces). Because at the end, it’s all about passion.


Pablo A. Millán, an artist who has dedicated his life to protect the Yellow-shouldered Parrot in Venezuela. Photo by Provita.

And let’s be real, it’s not a fairy tale story, not all professors are inspiring. That doesn’t mean they don’t have passion, just that they aren’t that good at transmitting it.  Either way, there is just an insatiable atmosphere for knowledge, full of interesting questions that at the end makes you realize that you’re surrounded by very intelligent people who are worth knowing and learning from.

So yes, thousands of people make their day-to-day life in Edinburgh, passionate about food and wanting to make people in disadvantage situations able to share that passion; passionate about empowering young people and inspiring them to become agents of change; passionate about emerging business as a mean to reduce poverty in the world; passionate about the beauty and depth this world holds, wanting to improve it and protect it; passionate about clean energy, math, the brain, language, music, art, horses and infectious diseases, trying to answer questions and coming up with something relevant and useful to make this world better.

At the end we all want to save the world. If you are also a passionate person, I invite you to share it here with me.


PS: if you’re interested, the courses I’m taking this first semester are Development: Principles and Practices, Frameworks to assess Food Security and Environmental Valuation.

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From Islander to Highlander

Hi everyone! Okay, I know that the title is geographically incorrect but I think you know what I mean😉. My name is Kuntum Melati which means a bud of a jasmine in English. One interesting fact about me is that I don’t have family name. If you think that weird awesome, wait until you finish reading my story.

I am from Indonesia where we have more than 17,667 islands (some of them is inhabitant) and we are located in equator line so we take sunshine for granted. I was born there but I’ve been living in Costa Rica, the Philippines and Thailand. I can speak Spanish, Thai, Tagalog fluently every time I ordered food in a restaurant but lost in translation if you go further than that. But worry not, I know ‘I don’t understand’ in all of those languages, that’s #1 rule- fyi it does not read as ‘hashtag’-. I love learning new languages and new culture, I am taking French so if anyone want to help me to learn that would be great!


My first hiking trip in Nepal, craving for more!

I decided to move and study to Edinburgh, why? because of the weather!-says no one ever, sorry just kidding. I heard so many good things about the city and the university, plus it’s offer a great master degree course. The city is beautiful like it just pop up out of a story book. Another fact about me: it is my first time to live in a four seasons country, so if you see someone walking wearing two jackets, a blanket, and a duvet- that might be me.

Before coming here, I have been working in environmental organisation focusing on forest (mangrove is my fave!) and people. This is why I chose to study Msc Environment and Development, to learn how community can benefit from the environment without exploiting it. That sounds like an utopia concept? Maybe, but John Lennon said ‘you can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one’ (well, at least there’s 16 of us in the cohort). To prove you how much I love to dream, (please) follow my ig: @tatum_daydreamer.

I left you with a picture of forest-dependent people from Papua, Indonesia. One of the most beautiful place that I’ve ever been. I hope to post more stories about my experience in the course and Scotland. Au revoir!


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A brief introduction to me

Hi there,

My name is Tom, I’m English, 26 and I am studying for a taught masters in Ecological Economics – the view that the economy is contained within the ecosystem and that infinite growth is impossible!

I graduated from the University of Southampton in 2011 and have spent the last 5 years working office jobs to fuel my passion of travelling, I have been fortunate to have now seen a lot of the world; Australia, South Eastern Asia, India, China, South America, this year I took the Trans-Mongolian railway all the way from Hong Kong to Tallinn, Estonia over 2 ½ months!

The train from Ulaan-Bataar to Moscow

I have been to Edinburgh a few times before, once for the world famous Fringe Festival, once to visit a friend who was studying as an undergraduate here and once on my way to T in the Park! I’ve always been impressed with the friendliness and openness of the Scottish people, perhaps that is just a contrast from London. I hope that once I graduate I can get a job and live here permanently.
I moved to Scotland for a variety of reasons, first and foremost is the beautiful countryside, highlands, lochs and islands that are less than a couple of hours away from Edinburgh, I’ve managed to get in early and have already been to the Highland twice. I have moved to Scotland with my long term girlfriend and I hope I can show you my view of Edinburgh, a slightly older, more settled view, but one that is no less active and busy.


Members of Ecological Economics standing in Loch Voil in the Scottish highlands.

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Land: Terra Screening

One of the best aspects of the Geosciences programme at the University of Edinburgh is the wide and frequent array of opportunities afforded to students and staff alike to see what is actually going on with respect to our global environment. It is one of many factors that made my decision to come here an easy one. Last week, several classmates and I attended a free screening of the Common Weal organisation’s first documentary, Land: Terra, followed by a question-and-answer session with film-maker Cristina Ertza and Lothians Green Party MSP Andy Wightman.

The documentary highlights land issues in Scotland and Brazil, with film-maker Ertza commenting that the two countries are leagues apart in terms of wealth, culture, and language, but they face very similar circumstances with respect to sustainable use of the land. Much of Scotland’s land is owned by a very small percentage of the population, many of whom are descended from the noble class. While Brazil does not have a nobility, much of its land is similarly owned by industrialized farming interests. Both countries, however, feature farming communities who want to see their farmsteads run almost entirely on renewable energy. Scotland has established some of the world’s most progressive targets with respect to sustainable use of the land, labour, agriculture, and water. Representatives of Scottish research institutions have been working with Brazilian farmers in an effort to reclaim their land from corporate farming and using it sustainably, using the recent land reform in Scotland’s Isle of Eigg as a model.

One of the key questions confronting the globe is how to govern peoples and lands in a sustainable way, and this is a question that we as postgraduate students are working to answer through the School of Geosciences. The documentary asserted that the surest way to deal with the land use issue is to take power from professional politicians and the corporations, returning it to the people. During the Q&A session that followed, Mr. Wightman argued that the currently ruling political class lacks the backbone and the necessary vision to bring to fruition real land reform and general environmental reform. He argued that a major revision of the democratic process would improve governance—including environmental governance—at all levels in Scotland and across the globe.

The issue, however, and one raised in the Values and the Environment seminar this autumn semster, is finding a balance between the rights of individuals, the rights of communities, and the rights of the land, flora and fauna. For sake of time, I will not go into the various and varying schools of thought on these questions, but the audience assembled in the packed lecture theatre acknowledged that the politicalstatus quo will not suffice in order to make the changes needed for effectively sustainable climate governance, and thus societal governance. Through the School of Geosciences postgraduate programmes, we will work toward those answers. We owe our Earth and our future generations no less than our best efforts.

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Introducing myself

Andrea Mariana

Hola! I’m Andrea Vergara De La Garza, a fourth year Ma Human Geography with Environmental Studies student, hailing all the way from Garrett Park, Maryland. I am 100% Mexican and 100% American, and 101% ready and eager to share my experiences at the University of Edinburgh with the internet!


When I’m not drowning in coursework at the Main Library, I play piano, intramural football and teach Spanish to a 4 year old child from my neighbourhood. My extracurriculars also include CodeFirst:Girls, volunteering, watching the Great British Bake Off and of course, GeoSoc. I am a passionate feminist interested in sustainability, art, childcare and education. I aspire to teach and work with young children in the future, and am currently in the arduous process of applying to postgraduate courses in Education.

One of my favourite courses this semester is Decolonisation and Development in Latin America. I believe this region of the world…

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Introducing myself — Andrea Mariana

Hola! I’m Andrea Vergara De La Garza, a fourth year Ma Human Geography with Environmental Studies student, hailing all the way from Garrett Park, Maryland. I am 100% Mexican and 100% American, and 101% ready and eager to share my experiences at the University of Edinburgh with the internet! When I’m not drowning in coursework at […]

via Introducing myself — Andrea Mariana

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Aye there! Hola! Mba’éichapa!

I am Sophie from Paraguay a country of roughly seven million people and 406,752 km², at the heart of South America. We speak Spanish and Guaraní, are huge football fans, love to drink tereré (cold version of mate), and are used to tropical rainstorms that turn our streets into rivers every once in a while. After a year of looking at this blog and reading about the adventures other students embarked on,  I am still in disbelief to be contributing to it myself! Studying the MSc in Environmental Protection & Management has been a dream come true, and I cannot wait to share the experiences as a geoscience student and beyond with you!

Water conservation campaign at Earth Day Texas 2016-biggest Earth Day celebration in the USA

Before coming here, I did my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science & Energy Management in Fort Worth, Texas and worked for a year at an environmental consulting  firm in Dallas writing Phase I Environmental Site Assessment reports. Whilst I am used to living away from home, Edinburgh continues to be a cultural shock for me as it is the very opposite (in every sense! -weather, food “haggis, neeps, and tatties”, landscape, architecture, lifestyle, idioms) when compared to Paraguay, or my most recent home, Texas. After this MSc, I am planning to go back to Paraguay (after six years of living abroad!) and getting a job that allows me to raise awareness and lead strategies to improve environmental issues in my home country and the world. I am fascinated by water conservation and cleanup, especially wetland ecosystems and waterfalls. Below is a picture of the Iguazú Falls in the border between Brazil and Argentina, east of Paraguay. This exemplifies the rich nature we have in South America and the crucial importance of coexisting with, and protecting our natural resources at a global scale.

View of Iguazú Falls & rainbow from Argentinian side

This year I am looking forward to joining the Hillwalking Club, the Permaculture Society, volunteering with different nonprofits, and getting to know my course mates.  In addition, I will be trying out some new recipes (baking for three vegan roomies will be a new challenge!), and out in adventures to improve my photography skills and get to see more of Europe. I also have a passion for hiking, so if you ever want to climb up to Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill hit me up. Until next time folks!

Social media links:

Google Plus

Following the inspiration of Hunor’s National Geographic account, I created one myself! You can follow me at:

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Of high cliffs and shaky legs…

Sooo…on Saturday we had our first Earth Dynamics field trip! If you study Ecological and Environmental Sciences, you will have field trips in the end of each year, but depending on which courses you take, you might be lucky enough to go on some during the semester.

Our first stop was Pease Bay. It’s about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh (so you can sleep a bit on the way :P). We were absolutely lucky that day, the sun was shining and the beach looked beautiful. Pease Bay is a good place to observe sedimentary structures such as cross bedding and you can really see how different layers of rock evolved over time.

We split up in smaller groups and explored the area. Of course we didn’t come here just to look at the rocks, no, we also had to practice describing them and writing our field books. Actually, in the moment I am writing this blog, I’m really starting to realise how important it is to have a good field book, because I had to hand mine in for examination on Monday and it would be much easier to remember details about the trip if I had it here now!

After examining the rocks in detail, sketching them, and finding analogies to the rock structures in the sand around us, we can finally say that these rocks are the sediments of a river system , in which the rivers changed their direction over time.

We had a quick lunch and some hot tea on the camp site that is right on the beach and then the more adventurous part of our trip began! The other place we wanted to visit is called Siccar Point and is also known as Hutton’s unconformity. You can see younger, horizontal layers of rock on top of older, nearly vertical layers. My description probably doesn’t sound that exciting, but this is a place visited by geologists from all over the world and it does look quite cool!

We had been told before that the path to the rocks at Siccar Point would be “quite steep”. This turned out to be an understatement, as we literally found ourselves on top of a cliff, while the rocks were down at the shore. A problem? Not for us! There was indeed a (very slippery) path and we all made it down alive, although some of us on our bums!

And it was worth it! It’s great to find yourself totally surrounded by nature, just an hour from the city. Here it was that James Hutton, who was a farmer around here, realised that the Earth must be much older than 6000 years (that was the common belief at that time, in accordance to the bible) and that the same processes that formed the Earth are still working the same way today.

With wobbly legs and many more sketches in our field books, we made our way up again. And it was even harder! There was a point when I was just holding on to the grass in front of me, hoping I wouldn’t lose balance and fall over backwards!

This field trip was just perfect! It was so much fun and it is just amazing how much you can learn in a day when you’re out there and actually looking at stuff you would normally read about in the library! Our demonstrator was super nice and helpful and ready to explain things over and over again if we didn’t understand them the first time. I’m definitely looking forward to many more field trips in the future and am very happy to have chosen a degree that allows me to learn things in such a practical way.

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