Welcome to the UK

Posted: 09.09.2016
Author: Rima Harutyunyan

Moving to a new country, especially for a year or more, is always interesting, as you never predict all the confusing moments that may happen. Though it is funny afterwards when you tell these stories to friends, it is not always that funny when they actually happen. Now when I have left two years of experience behind, I have several stories that you may find useful (or at least funny).

  1. Though it may sound trivial, the first one is related to PM/AM confusion. Surely it won’t be a big problem to get used to that, but some confusion may happen before you do. For me it was a bit bigger confusion when I mistakably bought train tickets for AM instead of PM. Moreover, it was in a completely unknown city, late at night and the hotel was far from the station. It seemed that we had to stay in station in an unknown city until morning (we had classes next morning).  Luckily for me, a very kind lady in the reception managed to find a few last tickets to the train leaving just at that moment. Though we had to run through the whole station in 3 minutes to catch the train, we were probably the happiest passengers in the whole train.
  2. The second one is related to the way British people tend to form their sentences. In fact people may form a long and positive introduction before they tell the negative information. It is great but not when you are a student from a totally different cultural background. For me personally and my friends in our group assignment it appeared to be strange at first. The thing is that we talked to our supervisor before submission, who was extremely excited about our project, and got B from the same supervisor. It was really surprising for all of us and we could not figure out what was the case. Fortunately, it was our first assignment and with the help of our tutor we finally started to get used to British style of talking. Here is an advice for new students: listen to the first part of the conversation, but pay more attention to the last (especially if there is a “however”). I realised that people in the UK find it difficult to tell negative news and if you are a student who wants to get a high mark you have to ask several times for a criticism.
  3. 3. An interesting thing I noticed in the UK during the first weeks is that the food rituals described in the books are real. I always came across traditional English breakfast and afternoon tea descriptions when preparing for the English exams. When I arrived to the UK I was surprised to find out that they really may spent an hour or two just to eat a breakfast or have a cup of tea. The fact is that when talking about breakfast you never imagine the real amount of English breakfast, which includes a toast, sausage, egg, beans, bacon, tomatoes and mushroom (and it’s called a breakfast). Frankly speaking, I have tried a traditional breakfast only twice as it is very different from the breakfast I used to eat in Armenia (often just coffee). What I really find interesting is the afternoon tea with traditional scones (small cakes served with jam and cream).  It is interesting that you can find afternoon tea almost everywhere- in cafes, restaurants, hotels, hair salons and even trains. By the way there is a great way to enjoy this traditional treat in the train, which makes you travel in time. You may try east Lancashire railway or search some other railways that have this type of offers. This journey is really memorable but it is very popular and needs to be booked early.

This is just a small amount of controversies and differences you may experience in the UK. I am sure you may have better stories, even funnier situations and more joyful moments.