So, I have been studying in the United Kingdom now for about 2 weeks and I have noticed quite a few differences between the culture here compared to the American one I left behind. For one thing, they have tea time (which I think should be practiced in the U.S. purely because tea is amazing), they drive on the left side of the road, and pedestrians have no right of way. They also like to call McDonald's: "Mackey's" (I believe I spelled that right, but either way, it's just as wrong to call McDonald's that as it is to call fries "chips.") Anyways, I have compiled a list of the 9 distinct differences that I have really noticed so far.
1. The Student Union hosts a bar and club for the students
Tuesdays are known as Stuesdays, Wednesdays are open after all of the sporting events, and Friday is the biggest night when everyone turns out to have fun at the Student Union. Make sure you predrink (pregame) in your common rooms with all of your flatmates because the drinks here are expensive. Some nights are themed like Silent Disco, Casino, and of course regular disco night. Just be prepared to have lots of fun here!
2. You do not review here, you revise
It took me a while to understand this difference, but after a few teachers reminded us to make sure we "revise" the lecture at home if we cannot make it to the original one and when a few British students told me they only had a few weeks to revise for exams, I began to catch on. And when the teachers told us to revise the lectures, I was very confused since students can't change lectures back home, so why could they here?
3. No refills
So when I go to the town's Mackey's (sorry McDonald's! Damn you British and your slang terms!) the soda machine is behind the counter which is fine as some restaurants back home have that as well. But when I recently went there and finished my meal and was getting ready to leave, I went to the counter and asked for a refill to which I was met with this very bewildered look and an, "I'm sorry?" I asked if they do free refills or just refills (because maybe I would have to pay) and they said, "I'm sorry?" And so, I just asked, "If I want more Coke, do I need to pay for another drink?" They nodded. Greatness.
4. WAY Less Homework
Do you want to know my assignments this semester? I have only 2 essays to do before my 4-week Easter Break. And when I get back, I will have 2 group presentations and 3 essays to turn in before I return home. That's it. I mean I have readings every night, but I love reading so it's not much of a chore. So believe me when I say that I have loads of free time which is very refreshing and also, very unsettling.
5. There are no bathrooms. There are no restrooms. There are toilets.
The signs that point to the places where we all do our business are titled "Toilets" here. Not bathroom. Not restroom. It's very straightforward here and it seems that unlike in America, the British have no qualms about saying exactly what goes on in these rooms. So now I say, "I'm going to use the toilet," rather than, "I'm going to the restroom."
6. "You alright?!"
I already knew this before I came here (thank you Adam from Carnival Cruise for this), but if you are asked, "Are you alright?" over here, it is the American equivalent of, "What's up?" And over here, apparently you can be totally honest about how you are doing and just totally say the truth if you are having a bad day.
7. Drinking for Pleasure
The drinking culture over here is so different from the one back home. Back home, if you are my age at least, you drink to get drunk, to feel good, to turn up if you will. A cheap drink will serve the same purpose as an expensive one and it is preferred if there are lots of these drinks. But here, it is different. While these students may go out more than the average American student (because they can), they all know their limits and do not overdo it. They will drink their fill and just enjoy the social atmosphere of the pub or the club. You can have 8 pints of beer ordered and it is not to get drunk, but to taste the subtle differences in taste of each one. Very different from America.
8. Ground Floor is Not First Floor
Imagine my surprise when I walked all over the first floor of a building as my classroom was in room 107 and all I kept passing were rooms with "0" as the first number and when I passed the stairs, written on the wall was, "Rooms 100-112," with an arrow pointing up. At my school back home, the classrooms in the basement feature the "0" as their first number, but these new buildings do not have basements (from what I can tell) and instead relegate their first floor as the "0" floor. Every building does this and it took me a while to grasp this idea.
9. Americans Are Too Loud
Americans are obnoxiously loud. Everyone here is far more reserved and quiet and it has made me realize just how loudly everyone speaks back home, always trying to out speak the opinion spoken before them. The stereotype here of Americans is actually of a person that is very loud and arrogant (which I mean I can totally see). But that is not to say that I do not miss it (some of it), especially when it becomes very hard to hear a teacher when they are pointing out the small details of whatever it is they are lecturing on. Then again, maybe my ears just are not trained to hear that low, yet. But I have realized just how loud Americans are since being here.
There are many more differences than these, and I am sure I will encounter them in no time at all, but these are the ones I just thought that I would share. I haven't made it to London yet, but I have made it to the Cotswolds, the White Cliffs at Dover, Bath, and Stonehenge so I'm exploring more than I thought I would of this amazing country. If you're thinking of going anywhere in the United Kingdom, take this list as a warning before you go!