It's Not Just About Learning The Language. Be Aware Of Different Customs When Living Abroad!

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When you live in a different country to the one you've grown up in, you're bound to notice that some things are done differently. Experiencing a new culture with its diverse customs is all part of the fun of living and studying abroad.

It's not just when you first arrive either. If you talk to some people who've lived in a foreign country for years, they might still be encountering cultural differences that surprise them.

So, how do the Brits do things differently, and what do you need to be aware of? Here are a few examples.

It's a long-standing joke that the British like to queue. While that might be stretching the truth a little (who really enjoys a queue?), it's fair to say that the queuing system is much more respected in the UK than in some other countries. And if anyone tries to queue-jump, they shouldn't  be surprised if the rest of the line "tuts" their disapproval - you may even get told off by your fellow queuers. So, whether it's your country's custom to queue in an orderly fashion or not, if you want a quiet life, you may as well get used to it in the UK.

Tipping Etiquette

Going out for a meal is pretty similar the world over; in every country there are different styles of food outlets from fast food joints to top-end restaurants and everything inbetween. But how about leaving a tip? What's the done thing in Britain?


If you're from the States, you might assume that a tip to your waiter or waitress is a prerequisite, but while tips are common here, there's no obligation to leave one.

And, according to a report on tipping habits from Voucherbox, Brits don't always decide whether to leave a gratuity according to the service they've received. A lot of other factors come into play - such as whether the waiter or waitress has a nice smile. If so, 23% of those surveyed are more likely to give a generous tip. The impression a server makes can also work against them, though. In the same survey, 40% said they would not leave a tip if the waiter or waitress had body odour.

A Gift For Your Host

What about if you're invited to someone's house for dinner? Should you take a gift or a bottle of wine? Of course, every individual is different and if asked, most hosts would politely say that there was no need to bring anything. However, that doesn't mean that they wouldn't appreciate a little token gift - such as a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates - and that's generally what people do in the UK. Depending on how well you know your host, you might also offer to bring a dessert or another home-made treat. While there are no set rules for most casual dinner invites, it's probably easiest to play safe and just bring a small token of your appreciation.

Of course, there will be times when you're living in the UK that you might get caught out by a cultural misunderstanding, but that's all part of the rich tapestry of experiencing life in another country. If you inadvertently commit a faux-pas, chalk it down to experience and even if it was really embarrassing, remember that you'll probably be able to look back and laugh about it at some time in the future.



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