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5 Common Myths About Britain And The British
If you are planning to come and spend some time in the UK to study or to improve your English language skills you might be asking yourself: is England really like people say it is? You mean: is England really as bad as people say? There are some common myths about life in England. Fortunately, most of them are just not true. Below you will find the most common myths about living in the UK examined and evaluated. The truth is often even more shocking than the stories you will hear…
But let’s be honest, if every country had an identical culture and just a different language, the world would be a boring place, now wouldn’t it?
Myth Numnber One
“The food is terrible!”
OK, nobody travels to Britain for gastronomical reasons. We all have our favourite stories about British food. Here’s mine:
once I ordered a pizza from a fish and chip shop. I felt that this would be the healthiest option. However, the man serving me just took a frozen pizza out of the freezer and dropped it into the hot frying oil. When it eventually floated to the surface, he skimmed it out and placed it on some old newspaper then handed it to me. Mmmm!
But, wait a minute.British cooking has improved tremendously over the last 10 to 15 years. As more and more British people have travelled abroad, thanks to the low cost airlines, they have woken up to good cooking in France, Spain, Germany and Italy. Supermarkets in the UK now stock an extremely wide range of fresh quality international ingredients. We have always been more adventurous when it comes to trying foreign food and so you will find restaurants serving authentic Indian, Chinese, Italian and Thai food on almost every High Street in the UK. Also, many “Gastro-Pubs” have recently started up and have become very popular serving good nutritious British cooking using the very best ingredients. So don’t be frightened of eating in Britain, look forward to being able to try such a broad choice of international cuisine!
Myth Number Two
“The weather is shocking!”
Quite simply, this depends upon where you are coming from! If you live in the South of France or Italy then, yes, it probably is colder and wetter than where you come from. Most people coming to live in the UK from these countries find that Britain is much windier than their home country. However, should you be coming from Siberia, then clearly you will see some improvement.
Bring suitable clothing for rainy and windy weather and remember that July can be one of the wettest months. With luck you won’t come home reporting as one Spanish student recently did that:”It only rained once during my 2 week stay in England, but this was on the first day it never stopped…”
Myth Number Three
“The English Are Cold And Unfriendly.”
Yes, you will notice a contrast between the English man that you meet in the city centre at 8.30 hrs on Monday morning and the one that you will meet on the High Street after 11 o’clock on Friday or Saturday night. Clearly, the first will be rushing to get to work on time and will not be in the best of spirits now the weekend is over. But we can probably understand this. However, the latter will be in a totally different mood and will probably greet you like you were his long lost loving brother! Alcohol will play a large part in this warm and friendly sociable but contrasting attitude. See next myth below…
It does take time to get a British person to relax and open up on first meeting them, but once they get over their initial shyness, they can become your friend for life.
Myth Number Four
“The British drink too much.”
Well, yes, OK. Let’s be honest here. It is absolutely true that most British people, unlike most of the French, Italian and Spanish population, drink alcohol in public places with the specific objective of getting drunk. The resulting happy, laughing and loud behaviour is seen as “having fun” and “just having a good time”. However, there is still a line and anyone who crosses this will most certainly be told by the rest of the group. It is not so strange or seen as shameful for women to drink to excess, where in other Southern European cultures this is not the case.
Expressions used by the British to indicate that they feel that they may have drunk more than the recommended daily maximum include phrases such as:
(Said the morning after)
“I think I had one too many last night!”
(Said during a drinking session)
“This is going down very nicely indeed”
(Said after rolling off a garden chair on to the beautifully mown grass during a family barbecue)
“Oops!I think I’d better slow down a bit.”
(After vomiting on to the floor of the last bus home at midnight)
“Hey! Sorry about that. I must have had a bad pint.”
Beware. Don’t try and drink as much as your British friends and avoid the last bus home at midnight!
Myth Number Five
“The British are so polite and respectful.”
Yes? Do you think so? OK, so try and test this theory out by pushing to the front of a queue. Any queue! You’ll soon discover that queue jumpers are considered more offensive than mass murderers. Also, driving through the rush hour traffic is hardly a Gentleman’s club. There might be much waving, smiling and nodding as people allow others into the traffic flow, but you try pushing your way Italian style and you will quickly learn a lot of other, much more unpleasant, English hand gestures…
But most of all, come to Britain ready to experience a nation more than happy to laugh itself. Like everyone else in the world, we English are curious about life in other countries and various cultural differences. If you can be prepared for that and are happy to see the funny side of your own national habits, you’ll fit in just fine and have a wonderful time! What’s more, the British will immediately warm to you and welcome you into their lives and circle of friends. But, just remember: never, ever even think about pushing into a queue. It doesn’t matter how old or sick you are, that is just not cricket!