Studying in the UK comes with its own delights and terrors. For international students, the United Kingdom’s unparalleled, world-class education is enough reason to study there.
However, the nuances of British culture can often create gaps in the learning experience of foreign students. Moreover, they may be unknowingly performing acts of misconduct without proper knowledge of British customs.
Familiarizing yourself with the culture of your host country is as important as knowledge in academics. Learning British customs is essential to make sure that you have a wonderful study experience in the UK. Here are a couple of things you must note:
Laughter is the quickest way to make friends. In the same sense, it can also be a source of disputes and misunderstandings.
Effective and non-harmful humor rests on context. For example, you may notice that some jokes don’t necessarily translate well in English. A joke told in your language may be extremely funny but telling it in English may come off as offensive.
Apart from the semantics of humor, British people also often make use of sarcasm and irony. Oftentimes, they don’t exactly mean what they say—it’s just an attempt at humor.
The Brits are very friendly to foreigners so you can expect a warm welcome. The etiquette when greeting is to exchange handshakes, even with children.
You must also address someone by their last names (including their title). You may only refer to someone by their first name if you’ve been invited to.
British people are often characterized by politeness. They are generally well-mannered and extremely respectful.
When you are studying in the UK, you should practice these social conducts. Say thank you whenever appropriate and don’t forget to say please when asking for favor. Apologizing is also appropriate when you’ve done something wrong.
If you think falling in line is mundane in the UK, think again. The Brits are serious when it comes to queuing and they don’t like it when you disrespect the order.
Normally when there is a large gathering, Brits tend to line up into an organized queue. So if you notice a queue in the supermarket or at the ATM, line up like everybody else.
Table manners in the UK are continental. This includes using the fork with the left hand and spoon with the right.
If you’re dining out, refrain from waving at a server to call their attention. And while you’re eating, make sure not to rest your elbows at the table.
Brits are generally punctual and they highly value each other’s time. If you are in a meeting with someone, it’s best to arrive early or on time.
Punctuality is highly valued in the UK and not showing up at the scheduled time is considered rude. Generally, you don’t want to arrive in the middle of a meeting and interrupt it.
International students must learn and practice British customs before studying in the UK. Read more of our articles here at MSM Unify to learn more about British culture and lifestyle.