What Do International Students Find Strange About Britain?

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With many of you arriving in the UK for the first time in the next few weeks, you'll probably be wondering quite what to expect. Inevitably there are going to be things you find strange and unusual about Britain that are completely different to your home country.

To help you realise you're not alone we have a series of blog posts from the perspective of international students who have already spent time in Britain. We will be taking a light-hearted look at what they find weird about Britain, the British and their fellow students.

To start us off, creator of IntProblems.com, and ForeignStudents.com regular Tessa, spoke to a group of students. All the students have experienced both American colleges and British universities so are in the perfect position to answer the question:

What do you find strange about Britain?

Food & Drink

  • Portions are much smaller in the UK than in America.
  • Food doesn't last as long; most expiration dates are just three or four days Strange Foodbecause of fewer preservatives.
  • Various foods aren't refrigerated.
  • You order lemonade and are served Sprite. In the US lemonade is lemon juice.
  • Pret A Mangers (a chain of coffee shops) are absolutely everywhere.

Out & About

  • Pedestrian crosswalks aren't aligned. You cross the street halfway and then have to walk to the side before crossing the street again.
  • Pedestrians don't have the right of way.
  • People do a lot more walking to get from place to place instead of driving.
  • The dress code at work is a lot more casual in the United States.


  • Britain has an interesting scale between liberals and conservatives (not just a straight line between the two).

Flags Everywhere!

  • Politicians are very direct- they don't seem to be as worried about their words being offensive or politically incorrect.
  • Politicians are very open and lively when the prime minister has to answer questions in Parliament.


  • Deodorant is sold in the form of a spray bottle.
  • The music played at shops and clubs/pubs is noticeably more European. There is a lot of techno and dubstep as opposed to rap and hip hop in the United States. 
  • British flags are everywhere and in every possible shape or form [It was the Royal Wedding AND Olympics this summer!].
  • Private schools are called public schools.

What do you think? Have you had similar things you've thought odd? Let us know below.

Tomorrow we'll have part two of this series where we look at some of the questions international students have always wanted to ask but never do.


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