You may think that there isn’t much difference between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. However, after a few days there, you’ll notice that you were terribly mistaken. Although both countries speak English and the flags is also red, white, and blue, there are various things that set these two countries apart.
If you’re an American who has your sights set on the UK, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of the seven biggest culture shocks that US citizens experience when moving to Great Britain. Keep reading to find out…
The British Slang and Lingo
Although we may share a common language, there are many words that aren’t used in the same ways. If you want to avoid some embarrassing interactions, we recommend that you brush up on the different words that Brits use.
- Eggplant = aubergine
- Zucchini = courgette
- Pants = underwear
- Trash can = rubbish bin
- Sneakers = trainers
- Wardrobe = closet
- Sofa = couch
- Queue = line
- French fries = chips
The Constant Stream of Apologies
When you live in the UK, you’ll quickly notice that one of the most commonly used words is “sorry”. British people love to apologize for everything, it’s more of a courtesy than an actual plea for forgiveness. For example, if you slightly bump into someone or you need to get past them, you should always say “sorry”. Even if you accidentally bump into another person, you’ll find that they will start saying sorry too.
The Free Healthcare
One of the most notable differences between the UK and the US is that you won’t be charged thousands of dollars for an emergency ambulance service. Yes, that’s right, healthcare is free for Brits. The National Health Service, or NHS for short, is a great resource but it’s sadly underfunded and overcrowded. Therefore, you should enquire into health insurance for US citizens in the UK before you think about moving abroad.
The Countless Cups of Tea
In the UK, drinking tea isn’t just an activity, it’s an artform that has its own etiquette. You can drink tea in the morning, afternoon, and even before bed. In fact, the average Brit drinks around 17,031 cups of tea during their lifetime. Drinking tea is a way to socialize and show your love for one another. It’s always customary to offer someone a cup of tea when they enter your home, so even if you don’t drink it, make sure to have it stocked in your kitchen. You should also have a kettle, as preparing tea in the microwave is considered blasphemous.
The Grocery Store
When you enter the grocery store in the United Kingdom, there are a few things that may throw you off. You’ll find that there isn’t so much variety in the British supermarkets as you walk down the aisle. Furthermore, many stores have their own brand version of things, which are often sold at a discounted price. There are also lots of self-checkout counters and most supermarkets offer grocery delivery.
The Hot and Cold Faucets
One of the most annoying things about the UK is their fascination with hot and cold faucets. Some modern homes don’t have this anymore, but most houses do. Instead of having a single stream to control the water temperature, Brits have two separate faucets, one with hot water and one with cold water. More often than not, to wash your hands, you need to pick between freezing water and boiling water or try to quickly alternate between the two. They also call them taps (not faucets) so you can add that to your lingo list.
The Left-Hand Driving
One of the most important things that you should be aware of whilst living in the UK is that they all drive on the left-hand side. It may take a while to get used to if you’re driving but we guarantee you’ll pick it up in no time. What you may find more difficult to get used to is crossing the road. We have an automatic instinct to look right first, however, in the UK, you need to look left before crossing the road. Some larger cities will have this handy tip written on the road. However, try to get into the habit regardless, as this culture shock has caused some serious injuries in the past.
All in all, you should never be afraid to experience a bit of culture shock. On the contrary, you should embrace it as best as you can. After all, what is life without a few adventures thrown your way? Just take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. Before you even know it, you’ll be living life as a true Brit.