18 Differences I Found When Studying In England

18 Daily Things I Was Not Prepared For When I Came To Live And Study In The UK

Make a cup of tea and make friends with your settee, because this is a long list

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Although I had been to the UK before coming to study, there were still a few things I was not quite prepared for. The UK is a primarily English-speaking country does not mean it is just like the US. There are still a few daily things that are different that can only be seen by someone who lives and works there.

1. Public transportation.

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It isn't even a problem that I don't have a car here. If there's a place I need to get to, I can take a bus, train, or tram. In London, I can take the underground and walk a short distance to wherever. It's actually incredible, and all the walking means I feel much healthier.

2. Grocery stores.

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Most of everything, from cereal to laundry detergent, is different. I never realized how often I just grabbed the same type of everything, until I came here and had to gawk at shelves full of cleaning supplies looking for something like Comet or Dawn dish detergent. It's these little things that really require adaptation.

3. Pastries and pub food.

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My favorite UK food includes Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, savory bakes, Yorkshire puddings, and curries. I don't think I quite lived until I had a chicken bake from Gregg's. It's so difficult to cut carbs when there are so many delicious food things.

4. Bland food.

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That said, most of the food has little to no seasoning. Salt, pepper, and hot sauce are my friends.

5. Food expiration.

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I do not dare admit to the number of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads, and yogurts I have wasted in my three months here. Food goes bad. So. Dang. Fast. Whereas in the U.S., I could buy something and not feel like it was a ticking time bomb counting down to mold.

6. Fruit variety.

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But even though fruits go bad, there are so many more widely available kinds here (many which I've never tried), and they're usually all affordable. There are Chinese pears, inexpensive pomegranates and mangoes, passion fruits, satsumas, currants, damson fruit...and probably more.

7. Water.

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The tap water in the UK is perfectly drinkable, of course, but I get a major stomachache if I drink it unfiltered. But then again, I drink purified water anyway in my home town because tap water there tastes like dust. A good Brita pitcher and a filter bottle saved me.

8. Store hours.

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Most places open at nine and close at five. Every place that isn't a chain is closed on Sundays. It forces me to be a morning person.

9. Public drinking culture.

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I come from a culture and legal system in which police patrol university campuses looking for underage drinkers. Inevitably, they find a lot. Here, there are university-promoted bar crawls and parties. It's very strange.

10. How quiet small towns are.

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I live just between a small town and my huge campus, beyond which is the city. Small towns are sometimes so quiet that I wonder if people even live there.

11. The NHS.

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I recently visited a health center. My visit and prescription were both free. Cue my American amazement.

12. Contact-less cards.

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I feel a twang of embarrassment when I'm the only one in a checkout line who has to shove her chip card into the machine. Other people just tap their cards onto the reader. I will become one of them soon.

13. The weather.

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As the UK's weather toes the line between bearably chill and terribly freezing weather, I can never reliably understand how many layers to wear. My desert-dwelling self was not prepared.

14. The daylight hours.

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Currently, the sun rises at about 8 and sets at about 4 and oftentimes, I only know that the sun is out because it is gray and somewhat light outside. I'm sleepy most of the time.

15. Differences between close cities.

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The culture is different between two cities as close as a 30-minute drive, including the slang and culture. It's jarring to travel a short distance and hear different accents.

16. Leisure time.

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People here seem to take coffee/drink/pastry breaks every few hours. Then they go home and have more leisure time. Then they have more paid holiday time than Americans. It's baffling.

17. Accents.

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It no longer registers in my brain that everyone has an accent, because here, I'm the one with the accent. The exception is whenever I hear a Scottish person speak because I don't really understand them. I used to try to hide my voice by not speaking too much, but now I enjoy being different.

18. People are generally helpful and friendly.

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I'm not trying to idealize all people who live here, because as with all places, some are just rude and annoying. However when I've been in obvious distress, someone has helped me. I once arrived with three suitcases at a train station that had no elevators. Someone helped me as I struggled to get them up the stairs. All too recently, I somehow shoved my debit card into the cash slot at a tram station. Someone stood with me and talked to me sympathetically as I called the tram service and my bank, before offering to buy me a ticket.

If I drop something in public, people immediately dive to get it for me. If I misplace something, someone turns it in and I get notified. Elderly women call me "darling" and "love;" really, nothing is cuter than an old British woman who calls people that. There are most instances like this, but I can't remember them all. There seems to be a better sense of community here than I've found anywhere in the US, and it makes this a very nice place to live.

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Cover Image Credit: ASMR Darling//YouTube

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Day Four In Italy: Florence

This is the day we learned the history of everything

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Waking up bright and early we first took the tour bus to the country side of Florence where we visited a medieval town full of shops that lined a beautiful countryside.


CountrysideBrooke Burney

We spent about three hours here just looking around, buying things, and taking pictures. Once the three hours were up, we went to a winery where they explained how they made wine with the grapes in their vineyard.


In the vineyardBrooke Burney

After the tour, they fed us lunch with some of their wine. Then, after we ate, we passed through their wine shop and took the bus back to the Piazza della Signoria. On the way back, our tour guide was telling us about Michelangelo and his time creating the Statue of David. We had to stand in a line for about thirty minutes but when our time came, we were thrilled. We entered and saw artwork from many different artists. However, Michelangelo had a hallway of his own that was mostly filled with unfinished sculptures of statues with David being at the very end.


Statue of DavidBrooke Burney

After the tour of the art museum, our tour guide took us to the square where the churches were and gave us a history lesson on them. He gave us a background on the pictures that were painted on the doors and what they represent.


Brooke Burney

After this tour, we went back to our hotel where we were able to go eat dinner. My friends and I went back to the small square we first went to and ate in a small pizza joint.


Italian pizzaBrooke Burney

If you ever go to Europe, keep in mind that they have a hard time splitting orders. As we were sitting at this table, we asked for separate checks but they made us pay separately on a single check, which was kind of funny watching three American girls pick through their euros.

After dinner, we went back to our hotel to pack for the next day. To the train station, then Pompeii!

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