This is normal when you move away from your country to a new one and it may include a variety of aspects: getting used to the food, catching up with the pace of living and mastering the language.
Day after day, getting to know English people and making British friends, I could learn more and more about their traditions and customs and notice some differences regarding English habits.
Here I compiled some sort of rules regarding everyday British customs which differ from the habits in my country of origin.
1. Punctuality: the English are known for their extreme punctuality. This apparent stereotype is absolutely true. Punctuality is key. The slightest delay in arriving at an appointment is considered a genuine lack of respect so it is best to arrive early, just in case. If you can’t be early, you better be punctual to your appointments or you will risk ending up alone.
Rush hour is no excuse to being late!
2. Carpeting: in the United Kingdom carpets are everywhere, in living rooms, bedrooms, waiting rooms, studios and even in some bathrooms! Needless to say, carpeted bathrooms are not too hygienic but it’s not uncommon to find fluffy carpeting in some older flats.
3. TV Licenses: anyone who owns a television set has to pay an annual fee to finance the expenses of the BBC. This tax applies even to foreigners who temporarily reside in the country and if it is not paid, the fine can reach up to one thousand pounds.
4. Respecting the queues: British people queue for almost everything unlike other Europeans: they queue for the bus, for the theatre, to ask a question…and they always respect their turn. A person who tries to skip a queue will be reprimanded by everyone present and will be forced to respect his turn.
5. Cashback: This practice, widespread in many supermarkets, consists of paying with a debit card an amount higher than the purchase made and receive the difference in cash. It is often a quick way to get some cash without going to an ATM machine.
6. Drinking tea anytime: having high tea at five o’ clock in the afternoon is not just a thing for grandmothers or upper-class ladies. The tea in London is an institution and in most hotels you will find the typical kettle so you can make your own tea. The most complicated thing will surely be to choose one of the many varieties that you will find. In many English houses there is always a teapot with boiling water on the cooker, ready to prepare a tea instantly. By accepting a cup of this drink, you can win over people and be social.
7. Good manners above all: in London and the UK, you must constantly repeat the words "please", "thank you" and "sorry". Therefore, not responding in the same way is considered a great lack of courtesy.
8. Dress code for partying: the coquetry of the young girls goes to the extreme of wearing short and light summer dresses to go out in London on a frigid February night. Striped sandals with stiletto heels are an essential complement of this ‘unseasonable’ outfit but this is normal here even on a rainy day in the colder months.
9. Taking the day off if it’s sunny: it is not strange that Londoners take advantage of the sunny days they get and run to the parks to have a picnic if the weather is nice. London is a wonderful city but it rains most of the time so when the sun shines many people call in sick from work. Ooops, the cat is out of the bag!
Lack of rain means fun!
10. Eating on-the-go: you are not a real Londoner if you have not walked with your paper cup full of coffee (or tea) or have not eaten a sandwich or a slice of pizza while walking around town. Londoners normally have lunch on the street while going from one place to another, it saves time and money…and this way you can be punctual at your next appointment, can’t you?