A Parent’s Guide to UK Culture: What to Expect While Studying Abroad
As a parent, it is natural to worry about your child when they are studying abroad. The UK is full of unique cultures, customs and traditions – all of which can be intimidating for a student. But fear not, we have put together an informative guide to the UK culture so that you can make sure your child is well prepared for a successful venture.
The Basics of UK Culture
The UK is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of these countries have their own unique traditions and customs, but there are also some similarities across all of them.
The main language spoken in the UK is English. The English language can be quite challenging to learn, and there are many different accents depending on where in the UK you are located.
People & Culture
The people of the UK are some of the most welcoming, friendly and hospitable people in the world. Despite the stereotypical image of the British ‘stiff upper lip’, the culture is actually quite laid back, and many people are very open and accepting.
Food & Drink
The UK is known for its traditional, hearty meals – such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and pies. But, there is so much more to the UK’s food culture than the traditional dishes – there are curry houses and Chinese takeaways, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants, and, of course, the world-class upscale dining experiences available in the nation’s captial – London.
As for drinks, tea is obviously a key part of British culture – and the nation is also known for its diverse selection of ales, beers, lagers and ciders.
What to Expect Living in the UK
If your child is planning on living in the UK for an extended period, there are a few cultural norms that they should be aware of.
The UK has a reputation for being rather rainy and cold – and while this may be true in some areas, the weather can actually be quite unpredictable, with many areas enjoying mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
The UK has a comprehensive public transport system, with buses and trains operating in major cities and towns. Buses are often the most cost-effective way to get around, and many cities also offer bike-share schemes, making it easy to get around without a car.
Accommodation in the UK can be rather expensive – and many students opt for shared houses or apartments. Universities usually provide accommodation for their students, or will be able to point them in the direction of approved housing providers.
Britain has a very strong etiquette culture. Severals areas of etiquette that should be observed in the UK include (but are not limited too):
- Queueing – Queuing is a key part of British culture, and people will wait patiently in a queue until they are served.
- Greeting – A handshake or a polite nod is the standard greeting in the UK.
- Food & drink – It is polite to thank your host if they offer you food or drink – even if you don’t take it.
- Privacy – Respect the privacy of others and be aware of your own. Do not post unsolicited pictures or comments on social media, or ask intrusive questions.
- Common courtesy – Common courtesy is a must. Be polite, respectful and try to be understanding of any differences in culture.
Will my child struggle to learn English?
No. English is the official language in the UK and most people speak it fluently. There are, however, different dialects and accents depending on where in the UK you are located – but your child should quickly get accustomed to them.
What is the best way to get around the UK?
The best way to get around the UK is to use public transport – such as buses and trains. Buses are often the most cost-effective way to get around, and many cities also offer bike-share schemes, making it easy to get around without a car.
Will my child need to dress differently in the UK?
No, clothing and fashion in the UK is fairly similar to many western countries. Casual clothing and footwear is usually preferred. However, some areas may have stricter rules around dress-code, such as religious institutions or work places.
Studying abroad can be a terrifying prospect, but with a better understanding of the UK culture you can help put your child’s mind at ease. Whether it’s learning the language, deciphering the etiquette or figuring out the transport system – with the right knowledge, your child is well on the path to a trouble-free and successful experience in the UK. And don’t forget to encourage them to explore their new surroundings and experience the unforgettable culture that comes with living in the UK. A Parent’s Guide to UK Culture: What to Expect While Studying Abroad will help to ensure that your child makes the most of their experience in an exciting, respectful and safe way.