Full year in the UK, full of baked beans in tomato sauce, full of “u r alright?” and “cheers”, full of studying and working and RAIN. Full of Bradford. I probably should not judge England based on Bradford, but oh well. Would I go to different Uni if I knew Bradford is this dodgy? NEVER! I have met so many amazing people here and learned so much at the University. There is always something funny about moving to new country and figuring out how things work in here, how people are and what is good to eat. England has been surprising and weird, not sure if I feel like I belong here more than Norway, but in the end- I do not feel like I belong in Poland either. I absolutely love English politeness and the language and how easy it is to make friends (something I missed very much in Norway). I decided to summarise what I think about England in this post.
Weird things about England:
- The way people say hello and good bye: It always takes for ages, and you have to remember to follow the protocol. There is no way you can just pass people on the streets and it’s has been quite confusing in the beginning. It is just a simple “Hello” , it is always “Hi, how are you?”, “Are you alright”, “How are you doing?” etc. No matter how you feel, always just say: “Fine thanks!”- people are nice but who wants to hear your sob story in the middle of the street in the rain (It rains here A LOT). And then comes the good bye, which usually contains couple different phrases, like “see you”, “Bye, bye, bye now”, “take care” and “see you later” (that one’s if confusing, but do not worry, it’s not like there is a meeting scheduled, so don’t panic you forgot about something”). This is all nice and fine, but it drains me on the phones at work, cos in Poland or Norway you call and you are like “Hi, I want to order a coffin” – “No problem, one standard polish coffin will be send”, “Thanks, bye”, “Bye”.
And in the UK, it will be like:
How are you?
I’m alright, thanks, how are you?
Oh, I’m fine, thanks.
How can I help, please?
Oh yes, I would like to order a coffin for my dead uncle, please.
No problem lovey, it will be send to you. Anything else, please?
That’s all, thank you very much. Have a nice day.
You are welcome, you too. Bye.
Bye, bye, see you.
Bye, bye, bye.
- People put the “x” in the end of everything they write. As English is not my first language, I probably don’t get it. But I seriously think nobody aside of the British, gets it. I would put it in the end of some conversation, when I say good bye. But in the UK, people just put it on Facebook and I texts like it’s a full stop, or rather instead of one. The more excited British people are, the more xxxxx will appear in the message. And I am dead serious now. It can go like this:
“What u doing x”
“Washing my socks x”
“Hope you have fun miss you xxx”
“Miss you too xxx”
“Let’s meet for coffee xx”
“Great, see you tomorrow xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”
I am not kidding, anyone having British friends will notice this on their Facebook. For me it is just funny, guess emoticons are not enough anymore. And also because it is not even a tradition to kiss on cheeks for good bye, like it’s done in Poland.
- In the UK you do not eat chips, you eat CRISPS, and if you do you will get them in 6 tiny packages. So that you can always have one with you and you can be forever fat. It is almost impossible to buy a big bag of crisps, you would see them in the shop, but once you get home you discover that the big bag consists of 6 small bags. I think it is a conspiracy to make sure everyone is equally obese. Very often you can get a deal “Sandwich, drink and crisps” for a fixed price. So people end up eating crisps for their lunch. I always considered crisps as an unhealthy option for lunch, but guess in the UK it’s ok. So remember if you are thinking about chips, you should say crisps. Cos chips are what the rest of Europe would call “French fries” or “potato chips”. Ofc, in the UK, nobody likes French people, not to mention saying it out loud every day when ordering lunch.
- Tea with milk. NO. Just: NO. In Poland you only drink it in hospitals. I am afraid of asking for a tea from a British person, because it always comes with milk! I drink only green tea, so that would be just wrong. But nope, in the UK people drink milk with tea and with frequency of a cuppa per hour. (Dear colleagues from work, I do base my tea observations on you, please note that drinking too many tee’s per day can increase your blood pressure, not that our work doesn’t…)
- Jacket potatoes, a potato with beans, or with tuna and cheese or with bacon or I don’t know what. In Poland a potato is not considered a meal, unless it’s again 1944 and we have war and hunger in the country. In England jacket potato is on top of the lunch deals. I actually like it a lot. With tuna salad and melted cheese- yummy! This one of my favourite foods in the UK, but please do not tell my parents that I eat potatoes all the time or they will think I am poor. In the beginning I didn’t eat the “skin” but my colleague said it is the best part, so I learned to love it. Unfortunately when I tried to eat the skin in front of my not-so-British-bit-too-Norwegian boyfriend, he said: “In Norway that’s he part we give to the pigs”. Yes, honesty is the thing I love the most in our relationship.
- Level of consumerism: you can buy everything anywhere and it is so cheap. I could not believe the things you can buy for one pound in poundlands. I could not believe my eyes when I first arrived in Primark. And how cheap take away is or readymade meals are in supermarkets. And it just seems like so much stuff is being wasted or bought for no reason, just because it is cheap. Shops are open on Sundays and you can buy Christmas decorations already in October. On the other hand online shopping is quite popular and easy to get done, I recently started ordering vegetables from an organic farm and it is a great saving up option.
- Driving on the left hand side. That is just crazy. I cannot grasp it with my head and I always look the wrong direction when I am about to cross the road. Why England, why?
- Buying lunch at work- seems quite popular especially with jacket potato or sandwiches with anything and everything (like cheese and onions?). There are so many sandwich shops around Bradford and all with good prices. I am used to bring lunch to work, but I think I am one of few people who actually prepare their food.
- Buying breakfast at a pub- and why pubs are open at 7am…
- SOGGY BREAD. I bet there is not a single household on this island without a toaster. Brits, you know I am right and you know why. The bread is just like a sponge. Perfect to dip in hummus or baked beans in tomato sauce though.
- People drinking in public like it’s normal. Or is it just a Bradford thing to do?
- British people do not get cold. If you are in a room full of people you will spot British by t-shirts and tops. In the weekends I am always full of admiration to girls who were short skirts and no jackets even if it is cold and windy and rainy. And the amount of make-up, and the big hair. What with the big hair? I even started doing my eye brows differently since I moved to the UK. Fashion, huh?
- Council Tax: seriously? £120 a month for taking my garbage? And I don’t even have to recycle which makes me feel like I’m starving polar bears after recycling everything in Norway and even in Poland.
- People are so polite and talkative. When a year ago I landed in Manchester a lady tried to pass me and she was like “Sorry love”. And I was like “huh? You talking to me?” but if we have never met before why do you call me “Love” or “lovey” or in Bradford even “duck”? It always melts my heart. Especially after living in Norway, when everyone is always polite etc but it is hard to have a random conversation with a stranger or small talk, while here and in Poland it is a part of daily live and I like it. It makes you feel welcome. In general I find it easier to live in the UK because of the language, while in Norway I always felt like an idiot when I spoke in Norwegian, here I can actually be sarcastic again. I love British people <3
- Baked beans in tomato sauce. OMG. I love them. And I love the whole English breakfast idea! At some time I was eating it every day, especially after night shift. I love the baked beans but I do find it a bit disturbing that you can buy beans packed as “snap pots” which you put into microwave and warm up. Seems like British people use microwave quite often, particularly for ready-made meals and can make even a jacket potato in the microwave! (or eat spaghetti on bread :O)
- Jacket potatoes.
With tuna salad and melted cheese, please xx
- Soggy chips with curry.
Yes please. The soggier the British-er…
- Double decked buses.
- Charity shops. What an amazing idea! And in Bradford there are so many of them, it is brilliant! It gives hope when you think about the level of consumerism.
- Christmas ugly sweaters. They are awesome, cheap, warm, ugly and can make noise. I love them. I was wearing my Christmas sweater since November last year. I dream about buying one for each one of my family members and forcing them to take a group picture under Christmas tree.
- For every occasion and even if it just include “Happy Christmas” and a name, it is still so nice that people give each other cards so often. And the selection of cards and occasions is so cool, you can buy a card for every single occasion
- -Yummy looking and unhealthy cookies, cakes, desserts: shortbreads, flapjacks, brownies, fudges. Omonomnomom
- Amazing choice of beers, stauts, lagers, IPAs, you name it!
- Higher education- expensive, but worth it. (or ask me in a year when I will be looking for a job in my field).
- Free museums- every city will have at least one free museum and that is really cool. In London they take it to a whole new level.
- Multiculturalism and diversity: I love how many different cultures you can meet in every corner of this city. I was also nicely surprised by the way you write CV in here: do not have to include age, ethnicity, marital status or gender.
Even though I have listed more things that surprise me, it does not mean that I do not like UK. I like living here a lot and you have to understand that this is a big achievement if you live in Bradford. Just on the first day of arrival I felt so welcomed because of all the politeness. In the beginning I was absolutely terrified by the way this city looks, but I guess I grew to accept it. Everyone is always up for a friendly chat, small talk or discussion about weather. I don’t think there are many things that I don’t like, maybe I find some of them weird but that is normal when you are from different culture. I probably do not like current government as it is cutting on welfare and social care like crazy, but I feel that England is more welcoming and open than Norway or Poland. However I do not plan to stay here longer than 2 more years, but it is not your fault UK, it is just me and I am sure you have plenty of immigrants anyways.