Living in London, See you again

At the beginning of December 2016, on a lovely day in the middle of winter, I knocked on the door of Social Life office with a soulful heart to work as a secondee to Social Life. It really seems as if I set out to do this secondment just a couple of days ago. But actually, it’s already time to say good bye. Looking back on my 2 years of English life, I came up with a few reflections.

Image 1: An obstacle which changes two lanes to one lane - something which I’ve never seen in Korea.

1. First of all, there is the unique type road which has two kinds of lanes.

I have seen a few of this type roads as I passed residential areas. I couldn’t understand the reason why the obstacle on the road, which decides the priority way and allows only one lane to go through. I was so curious about the reason why the roads are like this. So I measured it. The width of both 2 lane  and one lane road are the same. Moreover, contrary to my expectation,  almost all vehicles are willing to give way to oncoming traffic: British driving manners may be the best over the world!

2. Secondly, I love the moderate climate of London, which is not too cold, but not too hot.

This is so good compared to the weather in Korea that it’s too cold in winter & hot in summer. And, I enjoy the clean air of London without any fine dust which sometimes means wearing masks in Korea.   

Image 2: The clean air of London without any fine dust.

3. Another amazing thing is the diversity.

The flowers and plants in every park in London as well as the commodities at the supermarkets are very diverse. However, what impressed me more is the wide range of ethnicites, which makes me feel as if every race has gathered. It is very impressive that people coexist without any problems, such as the street, tube stations and bus stops. Moreover, now I have become used to this, I've now become unfamilair with the of streets and tube stations in Seoul that are full of Asian people!

Finally, but most importantly, despite being a small team the director and researchers of Social Life work very systematically and efficiently with a strong insight and tools such as the Design for Social Sustainability Framework. I am pleased to have spent my secondment with Social Life. It was an opportunity for me to understand how to create socially sustainable places, and apply this to my interest in better understanding effective residents’ participation as part of the process of planning for regeneration projects. Nowadays, there are so many regeneration projects in Seoul that it should be a requirement to include local participation from start to finish to meet the area conditions and residents’ expectation. 

Even though there are some minor inconveniences (such as slow internet and incapability of making a call in the underground), I truly believe that this country has one of the best environments. I hope to live in this country for a longer time at some point in the future. I believe that the Social Life framework will complement work in Seoul, as circumstances in London are applicable to Seoul’s. As a result, its application could assist towards more successful and socially sustainable regeneration projects in Seoul.