Hello! My name is Haleigh Bass and I am a junior majoring in Healthcare Studies. GEOG 280 is the first geography course that I have ever taken. Initially, I was signed up for GEOG 260, but decided to switch after I found out about the introduction of this class this semester. Given that I have never taken a geography class, I do not have extensive knowledge on map reading and making. One of the main incentives for taking this class is that it satisfies a requirement for my major. Aside from that, however, I am excited to take this class for other reasons as well.
This past semester, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. The sixteen weeks I was there was the first time that I had ever explored a foreign country on my own. Throughout my experience in Denmark and nine other countries, I used a variety of map apps regularly. Prior to my departure, my roommates and I used AirBnb to find an apartment. This website allows you to enter your desired location and then locates apartments for rent. The site provides a large map with pinpoints of all the available options. Since we were going to two different schools, our most desired location was one between the two universities. Using the virtual map, we were able to accomplish this. After selecting an apartment, we used Google maps on our computers to familiarize ourselves with our new home location as well as the routes to school and other main destinations we wished to visit. Upon arriving in Copenhagen, we used map apps on our phones frequently. Every street name and building was new to us, and without a map we would have been lost much more often. While we found ourselves consulting maps less and less as our time in Denmark went on, we still needed the map apps every time we traveled to a new country. These experiences definitely allowed me to improve my map reading skills, but I hope through this class I will be able to learn even more about map reading, as well as the processes and software that goes into making the maps that my roommates and I relied on.
As I mentioned before, I am a Healthcare Studies major. During my time at Richmond, I have become more aware about the role of geography and mapmaking in this field. In one of my classes, we discussed John Snow, one of the first epidemiologists. Snow was able to find the link between the 1800s London cholera outbreak and a contaminated water pump. He was able to show this connection by creating his famous dot map that allowed for the visualization of outbreak clusters in specific parts of the city. Mapmaking is still an essential tool today in public health. For example, it is extremely beneficial in charting the spread of diseases. I hope that in this class I will gain basic skills, specifically in mapping software, that I can potentially use in my future career. With this increasingly digital world we live in, I believe that these tools will be extremely beneficial. I am looking forward to a great semester!