Student Advice – 10 things you should avoid doing while visiting UK for the First Time
To start with, as an international student coming to the UK, it is important to understand and try to adapt to the culture. Nevertheless, we know how difficult it can be to know the do’s and don’ts in the UK. Therefore we’ve put together a list of the 10 things you should avoid doing in the UK. It may take you a little time to get used to your surroundings and don’t be embarrassed to make mistakes. Moreover, your culture may be very different and it can be a little overwhelming at first. However, we’re confident that our list will help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls new students make when they arrive in the UK.
1. Call the United Kingdom “England”
It is important to know that the UK’s official full name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is made up of 4 countries- Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Moreover, each country has its own distinctive culture, national identity, and government.
Nevertheless, nothing is more cringe-worthy than hearing someone say how “beautiful England is” when they are standing in front of Loch Ness in Scotland.
Also, calling someone from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland is seen as very offensive and you should not do it. If you are in any doubt, stick with calling someone British.
To be honest, when someone asks “How are you?” or “Alright?”, this is not a cue for you to tell them about your medical history and how your left nostril is a bit sore today. British people don’t care how you really are. Nevertheless, asking someone “how are you?” is part of civilities and small-talk in the UK. The correct answer to this question is “Fine, Thanks. How are you?”. Afterwards, the British person will then guide the conversation onto another topic, such as the weather.
3. Don’t block the escalators
It is an unspoken rule in British society that the left-hand side of the escalator is reserved for those people who are in a hurry. If you want to stand still, you should stay on the right-hand side
4. Ignoring the queuing system
Furthermore, another unspoken rule in British society is the art of queuing. Stay in line directly behind the person in front of you and wait your turn. Therefore, if everyone obeys the queuing rules, nobody gets angry.
5. Don’t forget your manners
British people are taught from a very young age to mind their “p’s and q’s”. This means to remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Forgetting to say these little words can make a big difference to how British people will react to you.
British people are distant from meeting strangers. Hence, it is a cultural thing that physical contact is reserved for those with whom they feel comfortable around. Therefore, when you meet someone for the first time, shake their hand. However, do not give them a hug or kiss them on the cheeks unless they have otherwise said so.
7. Asking if they know the queen
There are 65.64 million people in the UK, not all of them know the Queen. While it may seem foolish to read, many students do asking this question to the locals
8. Doing a British Accent
First of all, no matter how many times you have practiced, your British accent is probably not that good. However, save it for a bit later once you’ve made good friends with a British person
9. Refusing a cup of Tea
Offering someone a cup of tea when they come to visit your house is a welcoming gesture. To refuse the cup of tea tells your host that you do not feel welcome in their house and can be seen as rude
10. Talking about religion or politics with someone you don’t know
These topics are not discussed openly in public and a lot of British people feel uncomfortable talking about this with someone they don’t know for fear of offending them.