As you consider studying in another country, you may not realize that there's an entire culture you'll need to understand and be familiar with.
Even in the UK, where the language is largely the same, there are certain gestures and phrases that mean very different things than they do on our side of the pond. Here are twelve facts you should know about the UK before you start packing!
British English isn't the same as American English
British English tends to be more "proper" and often uses extra letters or spellings Americans might find unusual. Some examples of this are "armour," "manoeuvre," and "honour" among others. You may also hear your British friends use different words for normal everyday objects and events, like “lift” instead of elevator; “tea” instead of dinner; “pudding” for dessert; “trousers” for pants; “toilet” for bathroom; and “You OK?” instead of “How are you?”
Devoted Tolkien and J.K. Rowling readers probably won't find these so surprising, but people who don't have a solid grounding in British literature might find it confusing, especially at first.
The degree system is a little different
One of the differences between the UK and US systems are simply the different names the UK uses for equivalent degrees. British universities may label their researched-based master’s degrees “MRes” or MLitt” (Master of Letters). An “MPhil” might be a Master’s in Philosophy or an advanced research master’s degree that advances directly into a PhD.
To confuse things further, in Scotland, an MA – or, Master of Arts – is actually a four-year undergraduate degree (exactly the same as a bachelor’s degree) in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. These labels can make your search for the right program more difficult than it has to be if you don’t understand what they mean.
The majority of the time, bachelor's, master’s and doctoral programs use primarily the same nomenclature as the US system, but did you know a bachelor's degree in England and Wales can be completed in as little as three years as opposed to the standard US four-year program? In Scotland, a 4-year system like that of the US is the standard. The North American 4-year system is actually modelled after the Scottish system!
Because of the UK's wide range of well-established universities and colleges, many of which have existed in one form or another for over a millennium, the UK is very popular with international students and has become the most popular overseas destination in the world.
This isn’t a surprise considering the UK education system as a whole was voted the 2nd best in Europe and the 6th best in the world by the global education and publishing firm Pearson.
Regional slang is weird
Each county in the UK has its own unique vocabulary, and there may be significant local variations. For example, in the Whitechapel district of London, "Cockney" slang is used. Cockney consists of puns and complex rhymes in place of the intended word. For example, "trouble and strife" might mean "wife" and “donkey’s ears” means “years”. Researching the local dialects can help you avoid miscommunications.
Weather is a big deal!
Yes, it rains a little bit more in the UK compared to home, but don’t let that put you off! The UK is a wonderful place to live, with picturesque countryside and loads of indoor activities. Beware that because of the changes in weather conditions, the term ‘heatwave’ doesn’t exactly mean weeks of really hot weather!