Adapt to British Culture

The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are the fifth richest countries in the world and one of the most diverse nations in the whole of Europe. This article will show you how to adapt to the varied culture of England, Study the Traditional Music of Scotland, Learn Welsh and Northern Ireland.


  1. Forget the stereotypes. Many of the long established stereotypes are not relevant in the UK today. Don't assume that everyone is going to fall into the category of the beer swilling, rotten-toothed tea addict. Abandoning pre-conceived ideas of people and culture will allow you to be more open-minded and readily able to assimilate the culture you find yourself in.
  2. Understand the differences. The United Kingdom is comprised of different countries (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) and numerous different regions that all have their very own and very different traditions, dialect and even language. Understanding that culture in a highland village will not be the same as a southern English spa town will help you to avoid making mistakes and generalizations.
  3. Get used to small spaces. The United States is not only a huge country but they are used to bigger cars, houses and spaces. Like many European nations, the UK does not have the luxury of space. Houses, apartments(flats), cars and appliances are all smaller than you are accustomed to, so become more familiar with smaller areas.
  4. Go to the pub. The Public house is a very important part of British culture and nothing will immerse you in more than a good old fashioned pint of beer. Students, Stop Feeling Less Clever Than Your Colleagues, friends and family meet in the pub and it is used as a focal point of social contact.
  5. Be polite. Adapt by blending into the crowd. Always apologize for bumping into someone, even if it was their fault, as it makes you out to be a kinder person. Respect people's Stop People Entering Your Personal Space and always wait in line (called a queue in the UK).
  6. Accept the jokes. One of the most confusing aspects of British culture is humor. Bantering or "taking the mick" are all ways to describe making fun of someone but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Handle Teasing someone is a common way to show affection. As one Briton put it, "you never Deal With People Who Make Fun of Your Appearance of someone you don't like."
  7. Get used to the driving. The British drive on the left side of the road. Be sure that you do so or the consequences can be ghastly. Also, the cars in the UK have the steering wheel on the right side, so you need get used to this as well. Be especially careful with your turns and remember that right turns in the U.K. cross opposite traffic in the same way that left turns do in the U.S. and other countries that drive on the right.
  8. Get used to the language. The British use different words and pronounce words differently. Look around on the internet or buy books which have lots or help about the particular words which the British use.
  9. Enjoy the diversity. Many UK cities are ethnically diverse. Birmingham, Leicester and London, amongst other cities, all have large Asian populations. Polish influences are spreading around the country too. It's not all shepherd's pie and bangers and mash, have a curry, shop in a Polish Grocery Store, get a kebab or have a Chinese Takeaway. Manchester, London and Newcastle to name a few cities have great Chinatowns.
  10. Experience the antiquity. History, antiquity and 'retro' are abundant in the UK. Many houses, public buildings, churches, cathedrals and commercial buildings in the UK are considerably older than anyone from the US will be used to.

  11. There's more to the UK than London. Although London is an excellent city and the most popular in the United Kingdom, there are many other cities filled with culture and wonder. Nottingham is a fantastic city to visit. It's certainly smaller than London, but you'll immediately find everything is much cheaper there, as it is in many places outside of London. Jay McGuinness from the popular British boy band The Wanted is from Nottingham. Also, despite its bad reputation, Birmingham is a great city, not so much round the outer areas but the city centre is full of shops with the amazing architecture, Chinatown and the canal. The lush green hillsides, dramatic moors, wide expansions of marsh land and stunning coastal countryside are defining features of the UK, and should be explored.


  • When with friends in a pub, each person often takes it in turns to buy drinks at the bar for everyone, called "a round", rather than just buying a drink for themselves.
  • In a pub, you either pay for drinks as you buy them, or open a 'tab' with the bar and pay when you leave.
  • Do be sure and visit Northern Ireland and Scotland and Wales, but bear in mind that the weather generally gets worse the further north you travel.
  • Be careful with self-serve drinks (hot or cold), they aren't always free to refill. Generally when they are this will be made abundantly clear through menus or staff. A good rule to remember is if free refills aren't explicitly mentioned, assume they don't exist.


  • Understand that people can be very sarcastic and they do not usually mean to offend you
  • Avoid being overly familiar with regional dialect and slang, people may find it annoying or even offensive.
  • Don't try to get 'chummy' with people who look a bit threatening, and in southern England, if you stare at somebody for a little too long and they say You what mate? Understand that as a meaning to GET AWAY!

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