Abby is a University of Colorado student and a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar studying abroad in Brighton, United Kingdom. Her account is focused on the diverse environment of Brighton and how it has shaped the lives and perspectives of the people who live there.
How would you define the word environment? Before I began writing this week’s blog, I spent a few days wandering around Brighton trying to come up with a good definition.
The dictionary says that an environment is the surroundings or conditions in which a person, plant or animal lives. After some serious thinking, I decided that this definition needed more. I believe that two things work together to create an overall environment: the people or animals who live there, and the geographical features of the area.
“Well, that explains it,” I thought. Brighton is so diverse because it has many cultural traditions mixed together, as well as many types of geographical features!
This is the countryside across from the school campus.
Cultural diversity happens when people who come from different places and backgrounds all live together in the same community. So many people who live in Brighton come from countries all across Europe. These people speak English, but they also speak languages from their home countries, such as Spanish, French, Italian, and German. They alsopractice different religions, wear different styles of clothing and even like to eat different kinds of food. Do you remember me telling you about how popular Indian food is here? What about the time that my flatmate Sonja and I ate delicious Japanese food? If Brighton wasn’t so culturally diverse, I wouldn’t hear so many different languages being spoken nor would I be able to try so many different types of food. Is your community culturally diverse?
Geographical diversity happens when many different geographical features and landscapes are found within a community. Do you remember when I told you about the beautiful chalk cliffs here in Brighton? Or the pebbled beaches? Or the green rolling hills of the Sussex countryside? All of these different landscapes can be found around Brighton. There are also tall city buildings, huge shopping malls, and tons of cars and buses. Brighton is full of many different geographies.
What makes this environment special or different? I think what makes Brighton’s environment so special is the fact that it is so diverse, or made up of many different types. I don’t think it’s common to find so many diverse people, as well as so many diverse landscapes, all together in one city.
What parts of this environment help people to live here? All of the diverse landscapes here in Brighton allow people to live very different lifestyles.
For example, people who decide to live closer to water often work as fishermen; as merchants selling boats and equipment; or in the shops and restaurants by the marina. Do you remember me telling you about the marina here? It’s a place where the water meets the land. Boats are kept there when they are not out at sea. The marina in Brighton is quite beautiful, and a lot of tourists come to visit it.
Many people also live in the countryside and work as farmers. Because a lot of rain falls here and the temperature is never extremely hot, the soil is very fertile. This means that things can easily grow here; therefore, it is a very good place to grow crops.
A lot of people also live in the more developed areas. These are areas where a lot of things have been built, such as office buildings, hospitals, schools, restaurants, shops, etc.
I consider myself extremely lucky, because I get the best of two worlds. My school, the University of Sussex, is located right next to a highway. So, I am able to catch the bus right outside of my flat, and I can be in the downtown shopping area in about 10 minutes. At the same time, my school is surrounded by beautiful hills and public parks, which means I can also walk to the countryside in less than 10 minutes, if I want to.
Many people bike or walk to school at the University of Sussex.
What challenges do people face living in this environment? Because Brighton is such a beautiful city with so many different kinds of people and so many different kinds of landscapes, more and more people are choosing to settle here. This means that more and more land has to be developed so that people can build their homes and businesses.
As a result, the developed part of Brighton, especially the downtown area, is starting to grow into parts of the countryside as well as toward the marina. The different types of geographies are becoming unbalanced! If the growth of the developing area isn’t carefully controlled, too much of the countryside and the beaches could be lost. If that happens, the people who live in those areas would lose their jobs; many animals would no longer be able to survive; fewer tourists would come to visit; and Brighton would not be the wonderful, diverse city that it is now.
How have people been adapting to this environment?
People are very aware of the threats of development here. The government is working very hard to maintain the balance between the developed areas, the countryside and the marina districts.
The government has made certain areas of land open access land. This land is open to the public. No one person can own it. Many people use this land to take walks, ride horses, ride bicycles, and start conservation projects.
Conservation projects are aimed at preserving, protecting or restoring the natural environment, natural ecosystems, plants and wildlife. When a piece of land becomes open access land, this means that no one is allowed to build anything on the land. This keeps the landscape safe and undeveloped.
Much of the land around my university is considered open access land. People from all over Brighton, including myself, can come to this area, take walks, have picnics, ride bicycles, and take in miles and miles of beautiful scenery.
Afterwards, they can ride their bicycles or jump on the bus and have dinner at a nice restaurant downtown. Or, if they are in the mood for some really fresh seafood, they can go about five minutes farther and choose a restaurant down by the marina. That’s what makes Brighton such an amazing place.