Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How I landed in Earth Sciences

This guest post was written by CU-WISE Advertising Officer Judy Lam.

How I landed in earth sciences... and developed the inability to see outcrops along roads without wondering about what kind of rock it is, its composition, and its geologic history.

I love geology (synonymous with earth sciences), but I didn't know that until first year university. My high school didn't offer the Earth & Space Sciences, so I only took Biology, Chemistry and Physics. After taking them in grade 11, I didn't want to work on living things or how things move but I liked what things are made of... so I applied to Chemistry when it was time to apply for university. At first I didn't seriously consider going to Carleton so I just applied to whatever sounded interesting, like Environmental Science with a concentration in Chemistry. I ended up switching that to Chemistry and Earth Sciences at the deadline, thinking that the latter was similar to Environmental Science... Not quite!

Hey, it worked out! I ended up choosing Carleton because I figured that I might get bored doing pure Chemistry, and it also helps that I was awarded an Earth Sciences scholarship in addition to my entrance one... Getting paid to go to school definitely helped.

Heading into first year, I took some Earth Sciences courses and realized I love it! Minerals, rocks, and all that jazz lured me into the field. I went to field camp shortly before second year, and met pretty much everyone in my year who I'd eventually share core Earth Sciences classes with. It was a great experience - nothing beats field work!

Then came second year, and after a week, I realized that I dreaded thinking about taking some of my chemistry classes in third year... After mulling it over for a bit, I figured that I'd just switch to pure Earth Sciences because anyone who asks me what I want to do with my degree, I reply, "I want to be a geologist." (Not a chemist...) Naturally, I made the switch. I haven't regretted it - in fact, switching required me to take the second field course, which was another amazing experience. (It was so different from the first one, and of course, tons more work to do!)

It just goes to show that sometimes you just have to take a chance because you never know how well it might work out!