12 March 2020
For an English-speaking country like the UK, I don’t have to worry about miscommunication in the UK, right? Wrong! Inviting a friend over for ‘tea’? Make sure they aren’t expecting a meal!
Read on to find out more about British cultural quirks, particularly when it comes to food!
‘You a’ight?’ You will be bound to hear these words when meeting someone new in the UK. The British equivalent of ‘How are you?’, this is the standard greeting and does not mean you look ill or unwell! Although it may seem strange at first, you will get used to it and eventually find yourself saying alright instead of ‘fine’ or ‘good’!
On the fence about something? In the UK, you would say, ‘I’m not bothered’ – that does not mean you are being rude or that you don’t care, but simply that you don’t mind one way or another what the outcome is!
The solution to every (British) problem
Just finished class? Have a cuppa. Bad day? Have a cuppa. Just chilling before bed? Have a cuppa. Pulling an all-nighter? Have a few cuppas. The British antidote to life’s problems, take a peek in any kitchen cupboard and you will be sure to find tea bags.
The reason why milk is on every Brit’s weekly shopping list is that it can never go wrong with a cup of tea. Be careful though, as ‘tea’ also means dinner in the UK – you are better off asking your friend if they want a ‘cuppa’ if you are not actually offering to make them dinner!
What they call grub (or food) in the UK
What comes to mind when British food is mentioned has to be the quintessential fish and chips. We have all had it at some point – but have you thought about how strange it is that we never call fries ‘chips’ in any other scenario?
The go-to comfort food, chips are a chunkier version of your standard McDonald’s French fries and can be found in all British ‘chippies’, where they also sell chicken and chips, cheesy chips, chips with gravy… You get the idea. Delicious and fuss-free, be prepared to find yourself in the chippy after class or a long night out!
If ‘chips’ are fries, you may be wondering what that makes ‘potato chips’ – Brits refer to this all-time classic as ‘crisps’. Considered snack food in most of the world, in the UK, crisps form part of a meal deal you can get in British newsstands and supermarkets!
Starting from £3 (below USD 4), the meal deal includes a sandwich or wrap, a snack (you can choose between a bag of crisps, a yogurt pot and more) and a drink. Great for those on the move, the meal deal is popular among students. Do not be surprised to find yourself mixing up options every week!
You are also guaranteed to be invited to a ‘Sunday dinner’ at some point in your student life. A British tradition, a typical Sunday dinner consists of a meat (usually chicken or lamb) with vegetables and potatoes – all roasted and best served with gravy. Yorkshire puddings (a crispy bread that looks like roast potato) are also common.
Also known as roast dinners, pubs serve them only on Sundays, although there’s no rule that you can’t make your own any other day! Now if your British friend invites you to their house for ‘Sunday dinner’ when it’s not a Sunday, you know what to expect!
Hot spots on the British high street
On the road and need a quick pick-me-up? Stop by Greggs, the go-to amongst all Brits young and old, for a ‘pasty’! Be it a Cornish pastry or sausage roll you are after, you will never tire of these flavorful pies. You haven’t lived the British life until you have tried a pasty!
Need an atmospheric yet affordable place to eat with friends? Wetherspoons or ‘Spoons’, as the Brits call it, is your best bet! With meals starting from £5 (inclusive of a non-alcoholic drink), you will be hard pressed to find this price elsewhere in the UK, where eating out is expensive!
Run out of shower gel or need to pick up a prescription? Head to Boots, the biggest British drugstore (or pharmacy) on every high street! Catering to all budgets, you can find everything for your health and beauty needs here. A bottle of home brand shampoo will only set you back £1 or less, but if you are looking for specialty products, they are just down the next aisle! In fact, Boots is a popular place for Christmas shopping due to the range of gift sets they carry!
With the wide range of food and shopping in the UK, you will never have to venture further than your local high street for your every need. If you are ‘not bothered’ (read: don’t want to spend too much money or time fussing over the array of products in grocery stores), simply pick up some bargains at the pound store – yes, you read that right, everything goes for a pound! Getting used to the British way of life will take some time, but we promise it will be alright!
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