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Halls Living

How to handle culture shock and settle into life in the UK

By QMResLife 02 Oct 2023

Doing things the British way.

Studying abroad in the United Kingdom is an incredible adventure filled with academic growth and personal development. Yet, as an international student, it's totally normal to face moments of culture shock while adjusting to the British way of life. In this guide, we'll dive into some common cultural differences and share tips on how to manage and embrace your life in the UK.

Celebrate multiculturalism

The UK is a multicultural society with people from all corners of the world. Embrace this diversity, make friends from various backgrounds, and explore different cultures alongside British culture. London is a great place for this!

Dive into the deep end

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Queen Mary offers a wide range of clubs and societies for you to join. Being part of these groups can help you meet like-minded people and form friendships with those who share your interests. If you ever find yourself struggling with culture shock or feeling overwhelmed, don't hesitate to reach out to our international student office or counselling services. They can provide the guidance and support you need to adjust.

Embrace friendliness and politeness

Brits are famous for their politeness and reserve. Saying "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" is a daily ritual. Engaging in polite conversations is a fantastic way to break the ice and make friends. You'll probably hear "sorry" quite often, as Brits tend to use the word generously compared to other countries.

The ritual of tea

Tea is a crucial part of British culture for many. Joining in on tea breaks or offering to make tea for your flatmates can be a great way to socialise and connect with locals. Since everyone has their tea-making preferences, it's a good idea to ask how they like it brewed beforehand.

Get the hang of British humour

British humour is often subtle, dry, and packed with wordplay. Don't be discouraged if you don't catch every joke right away. With time, you'll start to grasp the nuances and even crack a few jokes yourself! Don't hesitate to ask questions; people will be happy to share their humour with you.

Let's talk about clouds, baby

a car covered in snow

Talking about the weather is practically a national sport in the UK. Engage in weather conversations, even if you think it's a mundane topic. It's an easy way to initiate conversations, and you can make plans with new friends based on the weather forecast.

Adventures with food

British cuisine is a melting pot of flavours from around the world. Don't hesitate to try traditional dishes like fish and chips, but you'll also find plenty of restaurants and supermarkets offering delicious international food. Be open to trying new dishes – you might discover a new favourite!

Waiting in line

Brits take queuing very seriously. Always join the end of a line and patiently wait your turn, whether it's at a bus stop, in a shop, or for a meal. It's also important to learn the etiquette of using public transport, such as standing on the right side of escalators on the London Underground and offering your seat to those in need.

Remember that culture shock is a natural part of the international student experience. Be patient with yourself, ask questions when needed, and keep an open mind. You'll soon feel right at home in the UK!

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