Culture Shock – The Top Things That Will Surprise You When Moving to England

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Moving to another country is something many people dream of doing, whether it’s to set up roots in a far off distant land or just to experience something new for a short while. And some of the most popular countries for either purpose include Canada, Japan, and Spain. 

However, in a list of the top ten most desirable countries to move to, the United Kingdom scraped in at number 10, with residents of Japan and Saint Lucia listing it as their most favored option. 

Of course, there are many reasons to want to move to the UK. It’s one of the wealthiest nations on Earth, has a relatively stable legal and political system, decent infrastructure, free healthcare, and has English as its official language. 

There are also some reasons that may put potential movers off too, such as having the 28th highest cost of living, notoriously wet weather, and one of the highest retirement ages in Europe. That said, there are still plenty of people that see ‘Old Blighty’ as the perfect place to live.

So let’s say you do choose to move to the land of tea and crumpets, what things are going to surprise you?

Taps

Known in America as “faucets”, taps are those things you turn to get water for your bath or to fill up your tea kettle. In most of the world, taps work the same way, there’s a spout for the water to come out and two knobs to turn to control the flow of hot and cold water. 

But not in the UK. Many foreigners visiting for the first time get quite the shock when they go to wash their hands for the first time and look down to see two completely independent taps. This can be problematic when you want to get water that isn’t boiling hot or stone cold, though more and more Brits are switching to having mixer taps like the rest of the world. 

The reason for this is historical. In the past, hot water would be heated in tanks in a house’s roof space. This tank wouldn’t have a lid, meaning rodents, insects, and dirt could find their way in, making the water unsafe to drink. That isn’t the case today, but it’s hard to break traditions in England.

Sports

If you’re moving to the UK from North America, you may get a bit confused when you hear Brits talk about football. In England, as in most of the world, football is the name used for soccer. It is Britain’s national sport and you’ll find people talking about it non-stop. 

Other sports are popular too, including cricket, tennis, rugby, cycling, Formula 1, and golf and most can be found on paid-for TV channels. 

Sports betting is also different in the UK. While in the United States, sportsbooks like theScore Bet have only recently started to take bets, wagering on games has been commonplace in Britain for years. You’ll find dozens of “bookmakers” online and even in small shops in town centres where you can place just about any kind of bet you want with relatively few restrictions. 

Tea

Brits are famous for loving tea and that is one stereotype that’s true. Coffee has become much more popular recently, but the traditional cup of tea continues to reign supreme. Just be wary that proper tea-making technique is a hotly debated topic that you will be expected to have an opinion on. 

Food

Most people think of fish and chips as being the national dish of Britain, but it has fallen out of favor over the last couple of decades. Apart from the traditional Sunday roast and pies, most dishes eaten in Britain originated elsewhere in the world. 

The most popular meal today is actually chicken tikka masala, an Indian-inspired curry that was invented in Glasgow, though Brits also eat a lot of Chinese, Italian, Thai, Japanese, and American cuisine. 

Air Conditioning

Depending on where in the world you are moving from, you may be accustomed to having air conditioning at home. In Britain, you almost certainly won’t have an AC device and instead will need to rely on windows and fans to keep you cool when the mercury rises. 

Contrary to popular belief, it does get hot in Britain with periods of 30+ degrees Celsius in the summer.

This can mean some uncomfortable nights in July-September, but for the rest of the year, it’s not a problem.