iGeo Russia Rocked!

Amie Jones, previously at Weydon School, reports back on the unique experience of being one of four UK students at the Geography Olympiad in the Tver Region of Russia over the summer.

Amie said she would ‘definitely recommend applying for the competition’. She explained: ‘It is not only a fantastic experience, but also something extra to put on a personal statement when applying to university. I think it shows initiative and drive to undertake extra-curricular activities.’ She has been giving talks to first year Geography students about the Olympiad and her plans to study Geography at either the University of Leeds or the University of Exeter next year.

The International Geography (iGeo) Olympiad, now in its 12th year, is open to students aged 15-19 years and is now an annual event. Next year the final will take place in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Amie joined three other girls from across the UK to compete against 40 other countries. The final rounds of the competition were held in a small town to the north-west of Moscow on the way to Saint-Petersburg.

The girls spent eight days in Russia which started with a day of sight-seeing in Moscow. Next they travelled to the competition where they stayed at the ‘Computeria’ a youth recreation and educational centre in the middle of a pine forest, sharing communal living in large log cabins. ‘There was a real sense of community, everyone got on really well,’ Aime explained.

The Olympiad consisted of a written test, a multimedia test and substantial fieldwork requiring observation, leading to cartographic representation and geographical analysis. Amie said: ‘We were so lucky to be really immersed in the culture. It gave us a real sense of ‘new Russia’ and their push for equal rights. We experienced Russian dancing and singing, visited a monastery.’ She added: ‘We were even given the traditional Russian hospitality of bread and salt, which wasn’t very nice but we ate it to be polite.’

Amie went on to explain that the competitive ‘test’ element of the visit was similar to an A level Geography exam. It comprised of a multiple choice test which covered a vast array of topics and some field work. There was a town and a river investigation. The competition winner was announced at the final closing ceremony, this year the accolade went to the People's Republic of China.

Earlier this year, the Secretary General of Ordnance Survey Dr Vanessa Lawrence gave a talk to AS Geography students at Alton College as part of the Speakers for Schools programme. After the talk, Dr Lawrence invited Amie Jones and Amy Bleakley, previously at Bohunt School to the Royal Geographical Society in London. They have since attended a lecture by Professor Alun Hubbard from Aberystwyth University on glaciology, a subject Amie would like to investigate as a career path.

Find out more about studying Geography at Alton College here