Whether you’re moving here or just visiting, here are ten random (and in some cases, hard-won) pieces of advice on entering British culture.

10 Tips for Survival in England
My tips for a smooth landing

1. Don’t badmouth the NHS, or give your opinion on any politics for that matter. You think you know all about it, but you probably don’t. Either take the time to research in-depth and form an educated opinion, or just keep quiet. 
2. Ask questions. Tons of them. This is just common sense for any traveler, but I’m amazed how much time someone (ehem…me) can waste time and money being clueless instead of asking a local. “Which platform does the Glasgow train come to?” “Can you recommend a cheap chippie around here?” “What is the password for your WiFi?”

3. Try the food, even if it sounds weird. 
Try the food
Eat scary food.
4. Always keep a stash of black tea and cake in your cupboards. It’s easy to say, “Come on over!” when you know there’s a battenburg and PG Tips waiting for your guests. Is there any better way to get acquainted with your neighbours than a cup of tea in the garden? I think not.
5. Understand the currency. There are few things as baffling as foreign currency, or as embarrassing as not knowing how to pay for something. Start your trip by looking hard at notes and coins, weighing them in your hand, making a game out of guessing their identity with your eyes closed. It’s tricky at first, but you’ll get it, and then you won’t risk being cheated at the till.

Understand the currency.
£2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, 1p…wait a minute…2p?!

6. Don’t hesitate to converse with the locals. It’s hard enough to integrate yourself in another culture without expecting everyone to come to you. You need to initiate. Say something to the man painting his house as you walk by, and greet the lady who rides her horse down your street. Conversation isn’t a crime, and though some might take you for a pushy foreigner, I can guarantee it’s easier to make friends when you talk to them.

Don't hesitate to converse with the locals.
The locals won’t bite. At least most of them.
7. Become an expert at “weather talk.” This is an easy way to start conversation, and can keep talk flowing when the stream of thought dries up. Brits love to talk/complain/discuss/curse the weather, and you’re doing them a favor by bringing it up.
8. Master the double taps. To wash your face, plug the sink and fill with both hot and cold water to make it bearable, or fill your palm with freezing water and then warm it with scalding water. Give yourself time. You’ll get the hang of it.
Master the double taps
Some of the most frightening things you’ll encounter in Britain

9. Be quiet. Especially if you’re American. The stereotype of the noisy American is far from dead. I’m fairly soft-spoken in general, but now and then I still catch myself being the loudest one on the train or in a shop. Brits generally like keeping to themselves and being quiet in public. You may be forced to use hand signals occasionally, but it’s just polite.
10. Now it’s your turn! What’s your top tip?

Photo Credits:
British Airways by BriYZZ
yum! by Petras Gagilas
British Coins by William Warby
Conversation by Didriks
Double Tap by Alex Brown 

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 1 comment

  1. Olarotimi Olakunle Onayemi Reply

    I wish to get a fast track visa to see a fiancee. ASAP.

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