You know that awkward moment when you don’t know how to greet someone you first meet? Do you just shake their hand? Or do you give them the one arm hand shake and then a one arm hug at the same time? This has happened to me countless times since arriving in the UK but with time you start to learn the different types of greetings. People from the UK typically just go for the hand shake but people from places like Italy, France and Spain give two kisses on the cheek.
When you move to a different country you will without a doubt experience a handful of awkward moments, but it’s okay. One of the first things you will notice when you move to the UK is that they drive on the opposite side of the road. Two months into living abroad and I am still looking both ways multiple times before crossing the street.
Before coming here, I thought that everyone in England had the same accent. Since moving here, I have realized that people from Manchester have a different accent to people from London, and both of them have a completely different accent than people from Liverpool, which I have found the hardest to understand. I knew that there would be differences across the UK countries, but what I did not know is that there are different accents within each country as well. According to yougov.co.uk there are 12 main accents of the British Isles, but it seems like way more.
Accents are difficult to pick up on, especially after someone you are talking to has had a few pints. But not only that, you also have to pick up on different slang they use over here. The first night I was here I was invited to a pop quiz. When I first heard this I was like “school doesn’t start for another week” and they all laughed at me. I guess what they call a pop quiz is what we would call a trivia night; it is actually really fun if you get a good group together. While ordering food at a pub I asked the bartender what ‘gherkin’ meant and she had no idea how to explain it to me. It turns out that it is just the English term for pickle.
I’ve also had to adapt to the different ‘currency culture’... UK money has so many coins it is difficult to keep up! They have £2 (pounds), £1, 50 pence (our equivalent to cents), 20 pence, 10 pence, 5 pence, 2 pence and 1 penny coins. I have a collection in my room now because every time I go out I feel like a leprechaun carrying around a pot of gold. At least it comes in handy when I do laundry since the machine only takes £1 and 20 pence coins.
It certainly takes time to earn the intricacies of your new UK home but it’s all these little differences that make the place all the more endearing! It will take some time to get used to living in a new country but that is the fun of it. The only way to find out about yourself and your own culture is to experience another one. If you would like to find out more about studying in the UK, please contact the Across The Pond Advisors.