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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  November 2016  /  From Sitges to Glories

From Sitges to Glories

‘Getting to grips with geography’: Kamran on the first year field class

From Sitges to Glories

Kamran Hussain (Geography 1st year) gives his impressions of the first term field trip to Catalunya in early November:

The first year Geographers’ fieldtrip to Sitges, near Barcelona, was a great opportunity to get to know fellow students and staff who we otherwise would not have spoken to, and to consolidate existing friendships.

The accommodation was good - the hotel had some stunning views of the sea. In the free time people ate out (paella!), and explored Barcelona hotspots such as Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarter and, of course, Nou Camp!

The week focused on four projects:

The first was based (literally!) in the River Tordera, NE of Barcelona, on a cold and windy morning. We compared river water quality by examining water chemistry and the differentiation of mesohabitats at two sites. The day was long but the practical work was actually good, learning and applying some useful field techniques.

On the next day, we worked on the coast project, based right outside the hotel. This was perhaps my favourite project of the week, walking along the beach and observing the dynamism of the coastline. We also profiled the beaches and assessed how their sediment reduced westwards.

The great thing about this project was that we got the chance to witness real coastal degradation with our own eyes and explain the impacts of coastal management in our own words. Until this fieldtrip I have only been taught the theoretical aspects of coastal management and handed Geo factsheets. Now I can relate to the results and have a better insight into this field of study.

Our third project included a visit to the El Raval area. There seemed to have been a reaction to the government’s attempt at rebranding this area. There were a lot of graffiti, and also some politically driven art work. You can sense through the art work alone the conflict between the government and the local people.

The back roads also showed a diverse range of migrant people, and we saw how the rebranding at some places was more positive and successful than others. Walking through this area, we felt the struggle and the battle for identity and sense of place.

The regeneration project, on the final day, aimed to examine, through observation, the impact of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games on the regeneration and redevelopment of the surrounding area. This was interesting and slightly strange at the same time. For every newly designed structure, we saw an old building ready to be demolished. Within a short distance, of perhaps 3km, you could observe both built-up and neglected areas.

Starting at Port Olympic, a tourist-defined place, we quickly found ourselves in a residential area with dispersed social housing complexes, often accompanied by old and derelict buildings. Finally we reached the Torre Agbarthe ‘Gherkin’ of Barcelona - in Glories, a commercially thriving area with many technological and media companies and high rise offices.

Working in rivers with strangers, and at times relying on others to get back to the hotel on public transport late at night, built a trust that certainly would be hard to gain through classroom work alone!

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First Year Geographers in Sitges


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