Why You Should Study Geography

Do you know your place in the world? That question can have a lot of different meanings. It might refer to your status in society, your profession, or even your attitude towards the people around you. However, the literal meaning of “your place in the world” is also worth examining. Understanding the geography of your town, your region, your country, and even that of your world can add a lot to the quality of your life. Even if you never plan on leaving your state, it’s useful to know who lives around you, what their customs are, and how they observe life. Here are just a few reasons why you should be interested in your world.

You will discover places in this world you really want to see
If you’re planning a trip overseas anytime soon, you may be thinking about going to a popular destination such as Rome, Paris, or London, or perhaps to one of the many Pacific or Caribbean islands. There is nothing wrong with any of these destinations – many of them feature excellent tourist attractions and are full of historical and cultural treasures.

There is far more to the world, however, than a handful of western European capitals and a collection of islands. Studying geography will let you uncover worlds you may have never known – worlds that you may want to visit. You might discover the lesser-known corners of Europe, the historical treasures of the Levant, or the beauty of the islands dotting southeast Asia, and decide that you want to see one of those places next year. You might even find something in your own country that you never knew existed. Finding an exciting potential travel destination is as easy as opening a National Geographic or doing some idle searching on Google.

You will be able to better understand people from other countries and handle cross-cultural situations
The study of geography is, more than anything else, the study of people. Culture and how it affects everyday life on the personal, local, national, and international levels are the primary aspects of the subject of geography. You don’t necessarily have to go traveling to benefit from this knowledge, either – there’s no telling when you’ll be faced with a situation in which you have to work with someone from another culture. The world is shrinking, and emigrants from countries around the world are finding their ways to even the remotest parts of America and Europe. And if you know the world and its cultures well, you’ll be able to more effectively work and relate with people with different cultural traditions than your own.

You will impress others and feel good about yourself for being smarter than most
This reason is just slightly egotistical, but it’s a reason nonetheless. Studying geography will put you in a minority – the minority of people who understand the world, its cultures, and its people. While you might not want to “show off” your newly-gained knowledge to your family and friends at the risk of looking arrogant, you can take pleasure in the knowledge that you know more about the world than many other people.

Most of us don’t bother with geography, since it doesn’t seem terribly relevant to our everyday lives. As a student of geography, you’ll be able to count yourself among the few. And you won’t have to attend any classes or get a degree to become an expert. All it takes is intellectual curiosity, access to the Internet, and perhaps a library card.

You will quickly discover that geography is important to understanding yourself and this world
Open the newspaper, turn on the television, or visit a news website. You will be bombarded with stories from countries around the world, some of which you may know nothing about. While reading about revolutions in twice-renamed African countries, riots and strikes throughout western Europe, and floods in southeast Asia can be interesting, you might think those stories don’t affect you personally.

And you’d be wrong. Today, more than ever, every country in the world and each of its various peoples are interrelated. Vicious typhoons in Thailand in 2011 caused massive flooding and a temporary shutdown of hard drive factories, resulting in a 200 percent increase in average hard drive and computer prices in the United States. Impending conflict between the West and Iran threaten a spike in oil prices. In the modern age, you literally cannot afford to live without knowing about the world.

So do yourself a favor and buy a globe, find an atlas, and start to do some research about the world you live in. You’ll both expand your horizons and prepare yourself to live in an increasingly changing world.

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