50 Weird Things You Should Know About Britain Before You Travel There
Travel

50 Weird Things You Should Know About Britain Before You Travel There

Before you hop on a plane to Britain, Ask Reddit needs to tell you a few things.

1. Spent a couple weeks in London and Edinburgh this past winter… the biggest thing was not giving my credit card to the waiter. They bring you the machine and you swipe your shit through and it makes perfect sense but it totally put me off my game. Also, they reply ‘cheers’ to fucking everything and I’m unused to that.

2. When Brits say, “You wanna go for a drink?”

American translation: Literally 1 drink.

British meaning: 10 pints, kebab and a souvenir traffic cone.

3. Replying “brilliant” after every comment. Makes me wonder if they are being sarcastic or have a set a really low bar of what brilliance is.

4. Not necessarily odd, but I love how there are charity shops everywhere. Gotta love getting a bargain on books.

5. I never quite realized it till I went there, but tea is the cure all/end all for any situation. You didn’t get into the college you want? Here have some tea. You’re a little groggy? Have some tea. Your arm’s been lobbed off? Let’s get you some tea. Why?

6. Henry the hoover. I lived in the UK for a few months and every vacuum I saw grinned at me with that weird face.

7. Went to London for the first time a couple years ago. Had a several people say hello with, “Hey, you alright?” Which made really self-conscious until I realized it was like, “Hey, how are you?”

8. I love the difference between American and British programming, especially Kitchen Nightmares.

British version: “Oh, the lobster’s off, yeah? You can’t serve it. You’ll get someone sick.”

American version: “It’s SPOILED, you donkey! You’ll kill someone! Shut it down! Shut it all down! Fuck me!” Cue dramatic music, three jump cuts to shocked expressions, and a commercial.

9. I’m British, but some of my American friends don’t understand why my washing machine is in my kitchen. Or how I drink tea that isn’t iced – admittedly that one works in reverse as well.

10. I’m Australian and find it weird that Christmas is a huge day for TV ratings. Series often have a Christmas special that is a really big deal, and evening soap operas have big events and which soap gets the highest ratings is a big deal. Even though it is warmer here, in the evening we are usually inside and sometimes do retire to the living room. At my family events we might watch a Christmas movie or maybe something funny. We’d never dream of watching a soap or a TV drama.

Also, the number one song at Christmas is important. Here in Australia we couldn’t care less what song is number one on Christmas day.

11. They take their dress up codes very serious. Like legit you’ll get turned away at the door if you’re “too casual.”

12. Pants means underwear. I made that mistake telling our tour guide that I got my pants dirty and that I needed to go change.

13. The astonishing number of Indian restaurants all across the United Kingdom.

14. The amount of culinary shows on TV.

15. Saying sorry for things you shouldn’t be sorry for?

Me: Stands in Tesco looking at frozen food.

Person next to me also looking at frozen food: Oh sorry!

16. That their summer break is 6-8 weeks.

17. The way that everyone’s waiting his turn to take the bus. You guys are too… civilized.

18. The passive-aggressiveness.

“It was SO nice to meet you” can be an insult depending on tone.

“What do you think of the weather” can mean “stop talking to me”.

19. What is up with that nasty fake tan bullshit?

20. The constant battle for who can self-deprecate the most.

21. From the US. I have never heard so many ways to insult someone… Bell end, knobhead, nonce, pedo, plampar, plant plot, Mardy cunt, slag, ya donut.

Also an extensive list I’ve heard of things you’d rather do than what’s been suggested: I’d rather shit in me hands and clap.

I’d rather circumcise myself with a butter knife.

I’d rather watch my mum give birth.

22. Brits can never decide if they want to use the metric system or not. You measure your weight in stone, your height in feet, and your beer in pints – but you buy your produce in grams, your petrol in liters, and switch between miles and kilometers on a whim. What gives?

23. No air conditioning is pretty weird for an American. Trains that work. Massive prices in central London.

24. As an American, the number of security cameras in public places, particularly in London.

25. I think it’s odd that your entire country is roughly the same size as the US state I live in, yet whenever I see pics of England there’s all this open space (hills and country roads and wee villages that look lost in time) and you’re still a major world power.

26. Saying orright as a greeting. At first I didn’t know how to react. I was like yeah I’m fine mate. Got a problem?

27. Just did 2 weeks in the UK, to me, the things that seemed the oddest, were actually improvements over Canadian culture. Kids and dogs can go to pubs, cashiers at grocery stores get to sit down, roundabouts everywhere.

28. The tribalism in the England alone, never mind the whole UK.

Liverpool to Manchester is a 45 minute drive from each other and they have completely different accents, and cultures. Over in Yorkshire it’s again completely different, London is a different world, the mid lands is another whole thing.

And they all appear to hate each other. As an American it amazing to study.

29. Place names. I don’t mean Cockswallop or whatever crude rural towns they have, I mean shit like Stratford-upon-Avon. When I go to the Dictionary of English Place Names, the very first thing that pops out to me is called Abbotskerswell. Also among the A’s is Ab Kettleby, Angmering, THREE Arlingtons, Arryheernabin and Askam in Furness. Going all the way to the end of the list, we see that the final name starting with Y is: Ystumllwynarth.

30. When British people want to be extra mean to you, they just act super polite.

31. The amount of bar fights I witnessed. I didn’t even know this stereotype going in so I was totally unprepared, and my jaw was on the FLOOR the first time I saw two guys lunge at each other and the Hulk bouncers all but literally throwing them onto the street. GREAT FUN.

32. One time we were going from a friend’s flat to the bar and someone me asked if I wanted a beer “for the road.” I said, “You can drink in public?” He looked at me indignantly and replied, “Of course! It’s a free country!” Well, damn. I’d never considered that!

33. The way to order drinks: Singles, doubles, and the bartenders carefully measuring everything. I was used to the protocol of, flash a smile at the cute bartender and who knows how much liquor might go into your drink. It might be 90% liquor. If you’re lucky. I also had to learn what a pint was, and what it meant when my roommates ordered “a Snakebite.”

34. Getting dressed up for the bar/club (like seriously, these girls looked like they were going to prom).

35. I’m from Poland and what’s always baffled me about the UK is that so many popular worldwide brands have different names and logos. Axe = Lynx, Opel = Vauxhall, Lays = Walkers, etc.

36. Something I’m a big fan of is the lack of overreacting.

The world could be ending in a cataclysmic asteroid strike, and you could find a British gentleman standing staunchly with a slightly quizzical expression who says, “Well, that’s that then,” while putting his pipe back in his mouth.

I’ve tried to emulate that level of calm in my life…

37. Taking the BBC for granted, especially radio. I think it would be awesome to have instant access anywhere in the country to that amount of commercial-free information and entertainment, yet I’ve never met a British person who actually listens to it. They’re always like, “Meh… sometimes I put on Radio 1 I guess.”

38. As an Australian, one thing I find odd is the British perception of distance. A 20 minute drive somewhere is seen as a big journey, when over here that’s often how far you’ll drive to go to the shops on a Thursday evening!

39. Your crisps flavors are out of control.

In the US there’s usually a spicy flavor, a cheese flavor, and plain flavor of mostly any salty snack.

In Britain, there’s like “Chicken casserole flavor,” “your mum’s favorite broth flavor,” and “I’m at a pickle factory flavor.”

But seriously there’s like 40 flavors of crisps and maybe 5 of them are any good and don’t smell like wet dog food.

40. What confused me about Britain is that there are literally no trash cans to be found, yet the place is so clean. I was in the gardens near the Buckingham palace (I don’t remember their name) and I couldn’t find a single garbage can in the whole area. I mean it is not that important but it is still odd.

41. Dated (and subsequently married) a Brit, I was so confused when he asked his nan what she had for tea and it was a full meal. Turns out brits call lunch, dinner and dinner, tea. I find this extremely bizarre.

42. The stunning number of kebab places littering every downtown street in the country.

43. I lived in Manchester for about a year and a half and the weirdest thing for me was the “pay as you go” payment for heat and electricity. It was annoying as hell, especially when you woke up and the whole house was cold AF because the heating turned itself off in the middle of the night.

44. Insulting you, but then asking you to agree with them. “You’re rather dense, aren’t you?”

45. I live in Midwestern America. Everyone in Britain can understand the way I speak without an issue… Doesn’t always work the other way around.

46. The amount of advertising, you can’t even look at a bus without seeing 5 logos on it, it’s like blank space is wasted money so they have to fill everything.

47. Currently traveling in the UK as an American, and not tipping is the thing that’s thrown me off the most. I’m a generous tipper in the US because I know how much it matters to waiters/waitresses there. I ate at a nice seafood place in dover, left a fiver for a tip on a 15 pound bill, and the waitress looked at me like I’d grown two heads.

48. Was in a pub and two guys were talking politics. They kept calling each other and the politicians c*nts. I found it hilarious because of how poorly that convo would be received in the US.

49. How thoroughly the British will go out of their way (and often to their detriment) to avoid causing a fuss. Honestly, I could cut the front of the line in any location and the worst thing that I would receive is a muttering underneath someone’s breath.

50. Beans for breakfast. TC mark

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About the author
January Nelson is a writer, editor, dreamer, and occasional exotic dancer. Her work has appeared on Facebook, ... Read more articles from January on Thought Catalog.

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