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5 Strange Things About Living in the UK

June 13th 2018


5 Strange things about the UK

Peter Bodri, DoS from TEG English Southampton, tells us what he finds strange about living in the UK. He is originally from Hungary and has lived in the UK for 4 years.

“Britain has the reputation for being over the top. This gives the people something special but this strange quality confuses those who visit or live on this extraordinary island. I didn’t grow up here but, besides being frustrated at times, I accept and even love the strange things I experience.

Constant apologies

When living in England, you need to learn to say “sorry” even if it is someone else’s fault such as if someone else bumps into you or treads on your foot. It may not seem logical but doing that will help you truly blend in.

English people say sorry for such strange reasons like when someone’s dog runs up to you. I would automatically start to say hello and stroke the dog. However, when I do, their owners keep saying sorry which makes me feel confused and embarrassed.

Finally, the most frustrating experience for many of us is calling the broadband provider and customer service companies. They say things like, “We appreciate your patience in this matter,” in the most angelic voice when you made it clear that your wife has already divorced you due to lack of internet connection!

If you want to find out more about British politeness take a look at our previous blog:

Manners Maketh Man – How important is politeness in the UK?

Two Taps

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The feeling of moving from the hot tap to the cold tap in an effort to not burn or freeze your hands! Some UK homes and businesses still have an old system of taps where there is one tap for hot water (normally boiling) and one tap for cold. The reason for this is connected to how British houses were constructed after World War II. Normally, they would have a cold water storage tank in the attic which would then be heated with a boiler for central heating and hot water in the bathroom and kitchen. This water was not very safe because normally this tank wasn’t maintained very well and was not drinkable. Cold water in the house came from the mains which is drinkable. Therefore, to divide these waters and ensure that people did not drink the hot water, British households had two taps!

Senseless queuing

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Oh how the British love to queue! This, I think, comes from the basic politeness and decency Brits have. While the willingness to queue is something they can be proud of, it can also be totally pointless. Take the example of dual carriageways where, due to roadworks, the traffic is often reduced to one lane in Southampton. This will make drivers startto queuing miles and miles ahead causing traffic disruptions as far as London. To avoid this, they often put up road signs telling motorists to use both lanes when queuing, which, in my experience, are mostly ignored. This would certainly take the pleasure out of this genuinely British experience.

Insure everything

A small child spilt a glass of coke on his grandad’s laptop. Drying it with a hairdryer melted the keys, causing £239 worth of damage.

This comes from a list of the most bizarre insurance claims in the UK. Some people here seem to believe that insurance saves us and will sort out problems that I think you should be able to avoid in the first place. When it comes to insurance, you would probably think of house, car, life, medical, all of these being perfectly common sense. In England it is house, house contents, car (rather expensive I must say), tenant’s insurance, landlord’s insurance, tenancy deposit scheme, mobile, bicycle, pets and the list could go on forever. Only related to horses I found Equine insurance, Horse and rider insurance, and Private riding horse insurance. It does make me think…

What is the weirdest thing

The weirdest thing about England is this: I love it here. I have called it my home for nearly four years now. Although I have just realised that I could easily write a book about what is odd here, it is easy to come up with just as much about what makes things and people extraordinary. Apart from what I said above (and I meant it), English politeness still amuses me even if I know it is not always heartfelt. To make the most of the British experience, I suggest a walk in the countryside. Besides the outstanding beauty of the nature and the charming thatched, stone cottages, you will meet the most delightful people. They will all say hello and smile at you all the time and so why not finish this blog post on that note.”

Peter walking