Planning a move to the UK or just want to find out more about the country? There are certain things about Britain you won’t necessarily know about until you move here. So, after living here for over a decade, I’ve learned a thing or two about British culture and way of life,
Here are some fun facts about Britain you should know about, so you can fully embrace the new culture and all its little quirks.
Tea is a way of life, no kidding
British people love to drink tea. All the time. And it’s not just any tea you will know from your home country. Tea in Britain comes with milk. Yes, milk. To the rest of the world that might be an unusual combination, but after a while of living here, you too will start to enjoy drinking your tea with milk. Trying new things when you live abroad can certainly be fun. Tea for breakfast, during your lunch break, tea in the afternoon with a cake. There is always an opportunity to put the kettle one and enjoy a nice hot brew. Although the coffee culture is getting more and more popular, tea is still the nation’s number one hot beverage. A true love affair.
Weather is a great conversation starter
We all know the weather here can be tricky, somewhat unpredictable and very wet. And maybe that’s why it’s an ideal conversation starter. Whether it’s sunny, cloudy, raining, snowing, too hot or too cold, talking about the weather will save you anytime you find yourself stuck in a conversation. After tea, this is another national obsession. So much so, that it’s been revealed men can even discuss the weather more than the football. And if you live here, you’ll now just how football-crazy this nation is. That should give you a nice idea of how popular this conversation topic might be.
Queuing is almost like a national sport
People in Britain queue everywhere. Going to board a bus? Expect to wait in a line. And don’t even think about jumping the queue. That’s just not how you should behave. This established practice doesn’t sit well with my other half. You can imagine the embarrassment when we went to one popular tourist attraction with a massive queue in front of us, and he decided to just go straight to the front of the line. I stayed behind, and watched from a distance, to avoid the looks and when it was apparent he was going to get away with it, I sneakily joined in. Naughty, I know. Obviously, I didn’t complain. I was only too happy to get in without having to queue for an hour.
A total stranger will call you ‘Love’ and it’s perfectly acceptable
That’s one thing that I found bizarre when I first arrived in the UK. You can be darling, love, honey or hon, sweetheart or dear, to anyone you’ve just met for the first time. A total stranger. A shop assistant, even someone approaching you on the street, asking you ‘Do you have the time, love?’ I didn’t know whether to be alarmed, offended or take it as a compliment at first. So confusing. But then, you realise that it’s a socially acceptable way of interacting with other people. Even if you just met them for the very first time. Got the picture, hon?
Different accents sound like an entirely new language.
Think your English is fluent? Think again. I had a sound knowledge of the language before I arrived here. All of these unannounced exams in English we had at primary and secondary school were finally paying off. I could put my language knowledge to good use. But when I first visited Scotland or Liverpool, I could hardly understand a single word. It sounded to me like a totally new language. There are so many different regional accents and native languages across the whole British Isles, it can be really hard to follow when you talk to talk to someone. And then there is slang language. That’s also a totally different league.
Train journeys can be more expensive than your flight back home
Ridiculous but true. Whenever you have to travel on longer routes, it’s wise to book your tickets in advance. Otherwise, you will be hit with a hefty price. Trains in Britain are expensive. Apparently, train fares here are the most costly in Europe, which is not surprising to me. And the fares fluctuate quite a bit too. They also depend on the time of the day you travel. It’s usually more expensive in the mornings and evenings, so-called peak times when many people travel to and from work. Just to give you an idea of the price we are talking here. If you travel from London to the north of England and buy a ticket on that same day, it can cost you around £100 and more. You can easily fly to many European countries for less than that. That’s just bonkers.
People don’t always dress for the weather
This is so true, especially when they are out clubbing. The fewer clothes they wear, the better. Winter or summer, it doesn’t make any difference in the way these party goers dress. If you ever go out on a Saturday night, you’ll know what I mean. Whatever the conditions outside, snow, blizzard, freezing cold, less is always more. I think this is probably one of the aspects of local culture that I will never truly understand. HOW, just how, are they not cold? And don’t tell me when you are intoxicated, you don’t feel the cold. I’ve been intoxicated a few time (ok, maybe more than few times) in my life, and I would still feel the cold.
People love to read, everywhere
Before I came to live in Britain, I could probably count on one hand how many books have I read throughout my whole life. And I’m not even joking here. Reading wasn’t something that was particularly encouraged in my family. So, you can probably guess my astonishment when I saw British people reading their books in public places. You will definitely spot people reading on public transport, while waiting in line for public transport, in cafes, on the beach, in parks, everywhere. They are a nation that loves to read. But not only that. They can also read pretty fast. A book or two, even three, in a week is nothing unusual as I’ve learned from past colleagues and some British friends. I’ve definitely started to read a lot more here and I have to say that I enjoy it.
There is a huge difference between England, Great Britain, United Kingdom and the British Isles
I know, so confusing. And it still is, even after all these years of living here. So, let’s break it down a bit. England, together with Scotland and Wales form the island of Great Britain. Then there is Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which are part of the second island.The United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales, plus Northern Ireland, so that’s Great Britain and Northern Ireland. And then, to make things even more complicated both these islands and all the other small islands around make up the British Isles. Are you still with me? Don’t worry if you got lost halfway. I’m not expecting you to remember all this. Things can get a bit frustrating, however, every time you try to enter your full address online. When entering your country, and you have to scroll down the alphabetical options, you just never know whether you are looking for England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.
Do you know some more fun facts about Britain you would like to add? Feel free to join the conversation below.