Cognitive maps

Ottawa ducklings

When you first begin to learn the geography of a place, it exists in your mind in the form of a set of very limited spatial relationships: X is west of Y, following A street will lead you to B, landmark C is to the north of town. The really disconcerting phase is not at the beginning, but at the point where you start to understand how previously seperate connections are actually interlinked. You realize that the passage between places D and E can also be an expedited route between F and G, and that place H (which you had never associated with place I), is actually right beside it.

This is the stage that I have reached for Ottawa, largely on account of a week’s worth of intense apartment hunting. Soon, I will actually have a comprehensive understanding of the spatial geography of the downtown region. That is the point, more or less, when it becomes defensible to think of oneself as a resident.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “Cognitive maps”

  1. Took me 7 months to get to that point with Brussels…really is a maze.
    Question for you Milan. I have two to waste in Oxford before my interview with Oxfam…what would you recommend for that short time given that there is no guarantee i will get the job or be back in Oxford again anytime soon?

  2. Brett,

    The highlights, for someone without a student card (and who thus cannot get into many of the buildings) would include:

    * Radcliffe Square
    * The Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum
    * The Botanic Gardens, near Magdalen College
    * The River Isis and Christ Church Meadow
    * Blackwell’s, on Broad Street
    * The front quads of All Souls College and/or a few others
    * One of the more interesting pubs, possibly The Turf

    Why are you only spending two hours, aside from your interview, in Oxford? If you only have a very short time, you should recruit someone to guide you around. Most Oxford students have done so for a good half dozen friends and family members.

  3. Unfortunately I need to get back to finish the dissertation which is due in two weeks the starving student budget is stretched as thin as it can possibly get. But you never know i may get the job and I just might have all the time in the world to explore Oxfordshire.

    Good luck in Ottawa. You know I had a beer once with Peter Mckay and Monte Solberg at Darcy McGee’s(conservative hang out right near the hill) while in Ottawa for a MUN. Ended up getting a drunken tour of Parliament at 3am by this other MP(got to sit in the PM’s chair). Monte Solberg was going to come on the tour as well but backed out when he saw that there were not as many females in our group(only 1) as he would have liked….true story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *