I look forward to each day that I’m at the University of East Anglia. Although the campus is a little out of town, which makes it a bit tricky to get to via train (which I’m on now), it’s most definitely worth it when you get there. Being out of town, the campus is able to incorporate fantastic green spaces, which definitely improves the well-being of staff and students. I can’t think of a better campus in the UK for providing access to nature (although I have been to some other good ones e.g. Streatham campus at Exeter, Bangor University with the views of the Menai Straits and Snowdonia, and York has a pretty cool lake too!). Do use the comments section to tell me about places that I’ve missed off the list – The Parks at Oxford is nice too, but as a Cambridge alumnus I try not to tell people. I always used to love my walk into work at Cambridge along the Backs, which was beautiful, but not particularly great for birdwatching (the odd Kingfisher aside!). I’ve included some pictures of the UEA Broad and river below, also including one of Cambridge for reasons of pure nostalgia.
When at UEA, I try to walk around the Broad and along the river each day at lunch. I’m told otters are a regular sighting along the river, but my lunchtime visits are hardly the best time to see them, so I haven’t yet! Apparently there are some terrapins in the Broad too, which really shouldn’t be there! UEA’s 145 hectare campus has many varied habitats, including five County Wildlife Sites, and is home to over 5,700 species. I think we’re also famous for our Rabbits, which aren’t hard to find! One of the tasks for Geographers in Freshers Week was to take a photo of a Rabbit, and I don’t think that many teams struggled to do so!
We do have an envious rare bird list for a university campus! Last month I found a beautiful Firecrest along the river, and the following day a colleague found a Yellow-Browed Warbler, which seem to grow in number in the UK every Autumn. Flocks of Brambling are beginning to appear now, alongside Fieldfare and Redwing, as Winter begins to set in. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for a mega-rarity over the next few years, which certainly seems possible at UEA.
For all those who love nature, UEA is really a great place to work at! My office is less than five minutes walk from the Broad so there really is no excuse not to take half an hour each day walking around it! It always manages to keep my cheery, particularly as I see so many colleagues with binoculars and cameras; so I definitely don’t feel out of place!
I’m sure readers of this blog will find aspects of their own campus inspiring, not only because it is good for wildlife, but perhaps because they are located in vibrant, busy, cosmopolitan cities. There must be some amazing campuses outside the UK, so do let me know about them! I think one of the reasons why some people love UEA is because of the architecture. The Ziggurats are pretty cool, and the concrete raised walkways around the campus make you feel that you’re walking in the sky in some sort of futuristic sci-fi movie. One problem, however, is that it really does all look the same to me, so it’s a challenge to navigate when you’re new. I’m still not sure about the Gormley figures on top of the buildings, but then I’ve never understood modern art!
Writing about inspiring places to work has set my Geographical mind racing to think of the best fieldwork locations that I’ve visited so far in my academic career. The ability to travel, either for fieldwork or to conferences, is a real highlight of an academic career. And us Geographers are fond of a little [a lot of] travel! More in the next blog!