Living in the UK

What might you not know when you arrive in a new country and in the UK? You might have all kinds of assumptions based on your reading, tv programmes you have seen, what other people who have moved here have told you, listening to the BBC but anyone going to another country is going to find some things confusing.  When I went to the US, I ordered a chicken sandwich. Much to my confusion, the person selling me the sandwich asked what cheese I wanted? I said, no, I want a chicken sandwich to which he replied, what cheese do you want? I asked again for a chicken sandwich and he responded again, what cheese do you want? Eventually, I thought the only way I am going to end this conversation is naming a cheese. I didn’t realise to order a sandwich in the US, you need to make about 10 decisions. In the UK, you are mostly dictated to about the sandwich filling – you don’t go off book.  This blog is about the smaller detail of life in the UK that you might not know until you are living here.

I want to find out what has been surprising to people when they have come here or when they have gone abroad, what are the details of life that we take for granted. How can we make explicit what is implicit and we presume everyone  knows.  I am going to start with something that anyone here would know – if your bank writes OD, that means the amount of money you are in debt, not that you have – yes, I had a friend from Russia who got confused about this.

4 thoughts to “Living in the UK”

  1. Hi – this is great and long overdue. I’m a foreigner and can relate to your story. When I first came to England, I got myself into a slight bit of a bother when I bought a very expensive designer shirt for my English friend. On receipt he looked at it appreciatively and said oh it’s wonderful you shouldn’t have bought it. I took it literally to mean I really shouldn’t have bought it and feeling mightily put out by the comment I said what do you mean I shouldn’t have? I paid good money for the shirt! Of cause I get the joke now although at the time it wasn’t funny to me. These are some of the subtleties of language that one could miss if not used to a place. The idea that you should seek to debunk some of these myths and get folk to share experiences such that others may learn from it is a great idea! More grease to your elbow!

  2. As someone born and bred in the UK, it’s hard to know what’s odd about the way we do things. However, when I tried living in France, I was really disappointed to find there was no equivalent of Radio 4. For months I thought there must be and that I just couldn’t find it on my radio. I should have realised then that France as never going to work out for me. Everything you do in France requires more paperwork than you think. For example, just to join in a casual exercise class in the village hall I had to have a medical and doctor’s note.
    I think this is an interesting idea for a blog, and hope you get lots of useful comments

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