In Britain, a greeting isn’t a simple ‘hi’. Instead, a greeting always includes the question of how you are. I don’t understand the concept of this because when you pass each other on the street there’s no time to answer the question? And are you supposed to ask the question in return when an answer isn’t really expected anyway? Before moving here, as far as I was concerned ‘How are you?’ was a genuine question in which you ask how someone is doing. Now I’m just confused.
Milk in tea
I don’t know where you’re from, but adding milk to your tea is not normal in the Netherlands. It doesn’t seem like flavoured tea is a massive thing either over here either. They have different flavours of course, but the main tea is just… tea with milk. It’s so inconvenient as well. It means that you need to have milk if you want to drink tea at home? However, adding milk to your tea does mean the tea will be ready to drink fairly quickly.
It’s hard to explain this one. It’s not like the Dutch aren’t friendly, but it feels different over here. It was taught in school that the British always say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ during conversations. After having lived here for a while, I’ve taken this habit back home. ‘Could I get a cup of tea?’ is how you’d order in the Netherlands but In Britain, you add a ‘please’ at the end of that sentence.
I cannot wrap my head around this one. For some reason, everyone from the UK puts an x at the end of their messages. It makes a little bit of sense when it’s in the last message, but sometimes a conversation has several messages that go back and forward, and still, every individual message will get an x. That’s not true actually, and this is when it gets even more confusing… Sometimes the first message will have an x, the second won’t and then the third will. How am I supposed to know when to use an x myself? And is it rude if I don’t? Can someone explain this to me, please.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I was on my way to Britain. My mum and I got on the ferry and decided it’d be nice to have some food. There were two options to choose and no one seemed interested in the option we wanted to have. We assumed both options had to have their own queue and went ahead to get it. Apparently this was not the case so they ignored us by not serving us for 5 minutes. The british like their queue’s but I wouldn’t say it’s always the most efficient way about it! And when it comes to trains queue’s and order are nowhere to be seen.
It took me a while to realise I was understood to be too direct for what the British are used to. It actually got me in quite a bit of trouble. When I told my Dutch friends about this they laughed and said: ‘What? they think you’re too direct?’ Repression seems to be a big thing around here. It’s not instinctive to confront someone; you simply adjust and accept. If they want to ask for something they need they won’t just ask; they’ll drive around the roundabout 5 times and then finally drop a small hint as to what they’re after.
I had done a lot of research before coming to university but there was one thing I completely forgot about: the drinking culture. I’m sure there must also be a lot of drinking at Dutch universities (I wouldn’t know as I haven’t been to one) but I don’t believe they drink as excessively as they can do here. I facepalmed later on… why had I gone to a university in the UK? I’m a non-drinker, you idiot. But hey, it’s all good now.
Societies and sport clubs
Although I may not be the biggest fan of drinking, I love the fact it’s normal for universities here to have many societies and sports clubs. It’s completely integrated at university which makes sport and other things rather accessible for students and it also means there are many ‘easy’ opportunities to make friends. Societies and sports clubs help create the feeling of a community which contributed to making me feel at home quickly.
All the taps in public places have hot water. I like the idea; cold water makes your hands cold, but the hot water in the UK is way too hot. I always feel like I’m slightly burning my hands and when there’s an additional cold tap the water is freezing cold. Where’s the balance?
Free water and public toilets
I love this about the UK. In the Netherlands, I have to pay 2 euro every time I want to drink water in any public place. Over here, the water is free no matter where you go. On top of that, there are no fees for public toilets while you have to pay 70 euro cent in the Netherlands.
Britain is not Europe
Even before Brexit, my friends would differentiate between Britain and Europe. ‘You are Europe!’ is a thing I exclaimed a lot in first year when they casually referred to themselves as something else than Europeans. I guess it has something to do with their sense of pride? I still like to point out that their geographical location is in Europe, even though they are actually leaving Europe now.
In the Netherlands, my football team would shower together naked. My university team in the UK does not; instead, it’s normal to shower while still wearing pieces of clothes. Sometimes there will be separate showers but more often than not we don’t shower after a game and wait till we’re at home.
Admiration for bilinguals
It doesn’t matter if your English isn’t entirely polished, the British always respect and even slightly admire it if you’re able to speak a second language. I never realised it was something special, as it seems almost natural for most Dutch to speak English. In fact, it seems like a natural requirement in Europe to learn English and sometimes even more languages. The British appreciation is appreciated!
From the start of primary school, I got to do my PE lessons with boys and girls. I was honestly shocked to find out that girls and boys are often separated in the UK. Girls get to play sports like netball and hockey and boys get to play sports like rugby and football. Even if a school would allow boys to play netball and girls to play football there wouldn’t likely be a team for them to play on.
Driving on the left
Why do they drive on the left side of the road? What is the reason behind this? I mean sure… Why do we drive on the right side? I don’t know but it makes more sense to me than driving on the left. In fact, I think most people in the world would agree with me. Only 34% of the world population drives on the left side of the road, while 66% drives on the right side.
However, I love living here and I Am so happy I am so welcomed to do so.
These are my personal experiences and I am more than aware it’s a little bit stereotyped/nor is every Brit the same.