• kristenevelyn

6 things I wish I knew before moving to the UK

I'll start by saying that it is not entirely fair to say "things I wish I knew before moving to the UK", because even if I knew, I still would have moved. The title could be more appropriately named, "things I have noticed since moving to the UK". These observations are also neither positive or negative, but I suppose I wish I knew them so I could have adjusted faster and had more control of my expectations.

Nonetheless, below are 6 things I wish I knew before moving to the UK.

1. It really does rain all of the time

I will start by saying that I am not opposed to rainy days. I would much rather it rain than we have a drought. I also really appreciate how the large quantities of rain help keep England green, however sometimes it would be nice to have just a tiny bit more sun.

Some areas of the UK see more than 220 days of rain throughout the year. (an aside, this summer, across the UK, we did have 5-6 weeks of straight sun, but everyone kept that this was really unique.) Most of the time, the weather is sunny for 1 or 2 days and then it turns to overcast mixed with drizzle for the next 5.

I now know to always keep my raincoat and umbrella handy!

2. Office talk will surround the weather and cake

During the summer I took a part-time job working in an office before starting my MBA. New to the office environment, it may be that most offices in the world talk about the weather and cakes, but I wonder.....

Obviously, this is a bit of a generalisation as people did have other conversations, but from my time working in an office the small talk was largely based around three things:

  • the weather today

  • the lovely cake that someone has baked

  • the football game

3. On Sundays, no one works

I am exaggerating, but not by much. Most places close substantially earlier on Sundays than they do on other days of the week. For example, whereas most grocery stores will stay open until 11 pm on a Saturday, Sunday they close at the latest at 4 pm.

Actually, 4 pm is the time that most shops close on Sunday so do try to get what you need to get done before then.

This may not be a shock for Europeans, but for Americans from big cities and especially people used to living in East and Southeast Asia, this is something to get used to!

4. Tea is the drink of choice

Although coffee houses are extremely popular, the UK's preference between tea and coffee is most certainly, tea! If I had a £ for every time someone said, "off to get a cup of tea", "time for a cup of tea", "oh, I think a tea sounds nice", I would not need to work.

Tea is the drink of choice. A prime example is my colleague. She and two members of her family went on a 2-week holiday. They packed 160 bags of tea. By the end of the 2 weeks they had run out! (That works out to 3.8 cups of tea, per person/day.)

5. “Love” is not a term reserved solely for loved ones

"Love" is the mature generation's way of addressing every stranger younger than them. When I go to the shop, the lady at the checkout will call me "love". If I order a drink at the pub, the older bartender will greet me as "love". I don't mind it at all, in fact I find it endearing, but to the unsuspecting the informality may come as a surprise.

6. Music and pop culture references are very different

As both the USA and the UK are English speaking, I guess I just assumed a lot of the pop culture and musical references would be the same. I was wrong. I first started noticing this when I was singing in hotels. The jazz requests I would receive from the English were always quite different than from the Americans. Some artists that made it big in the UK have not always translated over in the USA, and visa-versa.

A good example was last week when I went to hear a local Rockabilly band perform. I thought I knew Rockabilly fairly well, but most of the songs I had never heard before. Then they asked if anyone had any requests . I sent up "Rock this Town" as it is a pretty popular tune. Before starting, the lead singer noted that the last time he sung this song was when he was 17! he hadn't sung the song since he was 17. No one else in the crowd seemed to recognise the song but me!

Been in the UK awhile? Anything you wish you had known before moving?

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