Before you pass through customs and head out on your student tour of England, it definitely pays to understand the cultural differences you’re likely to encounter—you can count on there always being something you weren’t expecting. Experiencing British culture for the first time is always a thrilling adventure, but knowing what’s waiting for you across the Atlantic can help you make a smooth transition into English life, or Bob’s your uncle!
Check out some truly interesting cultural facts in the video below!
No other country has as many varieties of crisps (potato chips) available. You can feast on anything from a smokey bacon to a lamb curry flavour. What’s the most popular variety? I have no idea…But I’m sure it’d be a lot fun trying to find out.
An Ongoing British Music Invasion
England is incredibly proud of its musical past and present. The opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, showcasing compositions from such acts as The Smiths, The Beatles, David Bowie, Oasis, Pink Floyd, and U2, was generally accepted as a great success—Beijing might have had 10,000 people moving at the same time, but England played to their strength and produced a rocking Summer Olympics soundtrack titled Isles of Wonder.
The Island Mentality of England
The island mentality of Britain is, arguably, most keenly felt by the English. It’s quite common for England to exclusively see themselves as English and not European. Much of this view was enforced by the Battle of Britain (1940) when the island stood, essentially, alone against a Nazi aerial onslaught. This was a crucial time in the development of their national psychology.
A Unique Kind of Humour
Ask English people what they’re most proud of and they’ll probably say their sense of humour. Whether you’re in London or Liverpool, self-deprecation, cringe-inducing awkwardness, and not taking yourself too seriously goes a long way.
A Range of British Media
England has at least nine national daily newspapers offering a wide range of political views, as well as varied opinions as to what is actually considered newsworthy. Take the time to read a few and you’ll most likely have plenty of cultural questions after.
Take-Away (Take-Out) Food in England
There is a worrying lack of good Mexican restaurants to be found in England—to their shame, perhaps, but you’ll still find some truly remarkable Indian (chicken tikka masala is the national dish, after all…), as well as Chinese and Italian restaurants in most towns. Fast food is popular, but goes little beyond the major franchises.
A Similar Yet Very Different Sports Culture
Football (soccer) has long been the national sport of England. Cricket and rugby aren’t too far behind, but after the country’s 2012 Olympic success with cycling, rowing, and horseback riding, they too have grown in popularity. Ironically, all three of these sports require you to sit down…
Rules of the Tube
In London, most people will use the Tube (subway) to get around, so if you’re joining them, it’s important to understand the proper etiquette: always stand on the right side of a moving escalator, never crowd the platform, and, once you’re on the train, keep the chatter to a minimum—this is the time when Londoners like to awkwardly and amusingly ponder the meaning of life.