Here at UK Guarantor we like to prepare international students for life in the UK. Here are a list of some activities that will help you embrace typically English culture:
Have afternoon tea
Scones with jam and cream or a slice of Victoria sponge cake are perfectly accompanied with a cup of English breakfast tea (or Earl Grey) with – yes – milk. Enjoy this at about 4pm to be quintessentially British!
Fish and chips on the beach (in the rain!)
Being an island, Britain has some stunning beaches and Brits are stubborn enough to enjoy them come rain or shine. If it’s winter, bring a raincoat and scarf and buy fish and chips – or a Cornish pasty if you’re in Cornwall. Food tastes better outdoors anyway!
Have a conversation about the weather
I’m sure you’ve all heard of how the Brits like to talk about the weather (mainly complaining, but hey, who can blame us?!) Try it out one day; it’s a good conversation starter, with anyone from your closest friend to that person at the bus stop. Just don’t forget the many different expressions we have for the types of rain (something my German friend found amusing). From spitting and drizzling to ‘chucking it down’, we have a term to describe it all!
Watch an episode of Eastenders/Coronation Street
Soap operas play a big part in British TV, and we’re a nation divided between Eastenders (the East End of London) and Corrie, on the cobblestones of Manchester. Pick a side and stick to it, then you’ve got your TV-viewing sorted for pretty much every night of the week. My advice? It’s got to be Eastenders!
Go to a traditional pub
The good old pub (or ‘public house’) is the heart of the British community, and the atmosphere makes pubs a social den, whether you drink alcohol or not. Try a fruity cider if you’re in Somerset or otherwise a house ale, although be warned as ale is an acquired taste! Enjoy these over a game of darts or pool. In summertime, Pimms (fruity liquor with lemonade) is a must-drink.
Have an English breakfast and Sunday roast
Two more VERY British meals you need to try! An English breakfast consists of sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, toasts, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns (and anything else you can get your hands on!) fried – a breakfast so popular it’s often offered all-day at many pubs!
A Sunday roast is, as the name suggests, a roast dinner that is served on a Sunday, and is often a time that British families get together. Smother meat, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puds and vegetables in mounds of gravy and you’re sorted!
Join a queue
We seem to have developed a bit of a reputation for our love of queuing – but seriously, it’s not a pastime, it’s merely an efficient way of waiting for something, whether it be buying an outfit or waiting for a bus. You’ll find yourself queuing over here at least once a day for something, not least passport control when you arrive here! Just a quick word of advice: never, EVER cut in line – we hate that.
Visit a castle
Our little island has hundreds of scenic castles and ruins originally built to protect Britain after the Norman Invasion in 1066. Knights on horseback may be a thing of the past but nowadays most castles and ruins are owned by English Heritage, National Trust or the Royal family and are open to the public. Take a picnic and wander through the grounds, over the drawbridge, into the fortress and climb the keep: spectacular views to be seen.
Buy an outfit for £50
We Brits like to think we’re fashionable creatures, and as such, spend a LOT of our time shopping. We do like to do things here differently though, with our love of ‘fast fashion’, which is basically buying really cheap clothing which we wear a few times before binning. So my challenge is to buy an outfit for £50 – trust me, it’s easy! Forget your environmental conscience and own-fashion values of a few ‘key outfits’ which can be worn time and time again, and unleash your inner Brit!
Listen to some classic British rock
Some of the best British rock bands may now have grey hair and wrinkles, but their hits live on. Enjoy classics such as The Beatles’ ‘Penny Lane’ from ’67, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from ’71 or Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from ’75 either at home or in a classic rock bar. Think union jacks, long hair, leather jackets and electric guitars.