Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

On Parks

September 21, 2010 · No Comments

Parks in Korea are absolute crap – now that I’ve seen the parks in this gorgeous city. The day I went to Hyde Park, I had some yummy Alfredo fettuccine and red wine in my stomach. It was great. I gave bread crumbs to the geese and watched the sun set over the Serpentine. Meanwhile, Dave, drunk, frolicked on the grass. The vast space of Hyde Park and the more secluded areas of it, provide people with a choice: do I want to sit outside in the sun, in the open, or do I want to find a spot in the shade, amongst the animals. The experience was an unusual one, if only because I was not used to finding nature in between streets. Like everybody else, I found it amazing how a natural ecosystem  could exist within the artificial confines of the city. It didn’t make any sense (still doesn’t). The fact that a fourth of London is green space is a reflection on the aims of the government in providing people a safe haven from the hustle and bustle. Indeed, one of the more interesting things I’ve observed from Hyde Park and the others parks I’ve visited (St. James, Regents, Holland), is the number of people in suits sitting on the bench or riding a bike (Barclays, of course). Plus, having parks as well constructed as the ones we’ve seen in London keeps people of the street and into safer zones (not necessarily just crime but cars and other hazards). The more I think about the park, I realize it fits the British temperament of being calm and unperturbed. I may be stereotyping a bit here, but this is something I’ve felt since the first day Emily and I went off into Marylebone to orient ourselves with the city; the people seemed so relaxed. In Korea, at least in Seoul, it is the norm to bump into people without receiving so much as an apology; people seem more tense, even apprehensive. Someone commented that they’ve seen a surprising lack of recreation in these parks. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence. Whereas in America, we see the parks and beaches dominated by people playing volleyball, basketball, soccer, and a variety of other sports, over here, the Brits seem more inclined to take a stroll or sit on the bench and sip coffee.

While we can say that Hyde Park and St. James is very similar, we know that Hampstead is much different than Regents. Its been fun visiting these parks and noticing the small differences and peculiarities. St. James has a beautiful course that surpasses both Hyde Park (even though Hyde is still my favorite) and Regents, while Hampstead is probably the quietest park I’ve visited. It may not boast the friendly wildlife of St. James, but Hampstead was one of the most pleasurable walks I’ve had in London; the scenery was absolutely beautiful, prompting me to take photographs at every turn in the road.

Parks are reminders that urbanity needs mother nature.

Categories: 2010 Sean

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