My Days in London in Retrospect
My Days in London in Retrospect
  • Jihun Choi
  • 승인 2009.11.18 21:04
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

I had a chance to study in London through the Summer Session Program last year and wish to share some scenes that impressed me during my stay.

When I first arrived in London Heathrow Airport, one of things that captured my eyes was a prayer room in the airport. It was a room for religious people, mostly Muslims, since the Islamic faith requires prayers at specific times and in certain conditions. During my days in London, I could find similar rooms in my school buildings and public institutions as well.

When I went out on the street, I was surprised to see many people in wheelchairs crossing the street without any help from others. Those were the scenes that I hardly see in the streets of Seoul. When I went to the restaurants, I was amazed to find out so many vegetarian dishes on the menu. As an ardent meat-eater, I never knew there were so many people who do not eat meat due to their religious or biological reasons or just because of taste.

During my stay, there was the Pride London Festival, one of Britain’s biggest street parties. Half a million lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and straight people flooded into Oxford Street for the parade. Many activities took place in Trafalgar Square, where music supported a rally with speakers celebrating a year of success for the gay rights movement. I was surprised at the scene, since expressing a different sexual preference in Korea means to be marked with a social stigma.

These scenes were strongly impressed on my memory, because they showed me how the British care for each other or at least try to understand regardless of differences of race, national origin, sexual preference, culture or religion. Coming back to Korea, I gave myself time to reflect on my beloved country, society and school.

More than a million foreigners today are working in Korea and 1 out of 7 marriages are international ones. There are several hundred thousand physically-handicapped people in Korea and there are people who have different sexual preferences or different tastes for food. Still, our menus are too thin and our doorsteps are too high. Moreover, our minds are still closed to recognize all these differences, or maybe too obsessed with the goodness of unity.

Children tend to be so self-centered that they see the world with a view of separating things into just self and non-self or likes and dislikes. However, as they grow up, they find how different things are and get to learn how they will respond. When I was in primary school, I used to be taught how homogenous our nation is, and therefore how great we are and also how important the unity is. However, things have changed and now schools teach how different we are and how great it is to have variety and harmony. I believe this is a great improvement and it is the way our society will become grown-up and mature.

Jihun Choi / Life Science 04