I've recently finished my first year of University in the UK and as an international student I was surprised by a couple of things, here are 10 of them.
- Food is not as expensive. If I go to a standard supermarket I can do my weekly shop for roughly £25 (+/- 27€), whereas I would spent at least 70€ here in Luxembourg. Drinks are also cheaper, here you might have to pay 12€ upwards for a cocktail but in the UK you can get a decent one for £5, if you avoid going to very posh places. These differences often led me to believe that things were quite affordable whereas my British friends would complain about the prices.
- People do not complain as much about the rain. Even though I am convinced that the British weather is not as bad as people make it out to be, as it has, in contrast to what I've bee warned about, not rained 24/7 while I was there. However, when it rains people just tend to accept it, most people own a proper raincoat or even wellies and do not hesitate to wear them when they go out.
- The British take tea very seriously. I personally don't like tea and before going to uni everyone told me that that would become a problem, I laughed it off, thinking it was a cliché; but I was wrong. Nearly all of my flatmates moved in with a box of tea bags and started making a ''cuppa'' as soon as they entered the kitchen. For me this meant politely declining a lot of tea until people stopped asking me if I wanted a cup.
- Going to the pub is second nature. This might have something to do with being a university student but there are so many pubs and they are always busy no matter at what time you walk in, or past. Meeting in the pub just comes naturally to most people I've met and it is a nice place to get together even tough it can be very noisy, especially on a sports night. Most pubs also offer pretty nice and affordable food.
- British food is not as bad as its reputation. There might be some rather unusual things that require getting used to (mint sauce, I am looking at you) but there also are a lot of tasty foods. I'm glad my flatmates introduced me to roast dinners, Christmas pudding, mince pies and crumpets, to name only a few, and I will certainly miss some of these over summer.
- They will say ''See you later'' no matter how much later you'll see them. I could be going away for months and they would still see me off with ''See you later''. Technically they are not wrong but for me it was something to get used to because we do not really say that in Luxembourg unless we see the person shortly after.
- There are no bakeries or only very few. Quickly walking to the bakery to get a fresh loaf of bread before dinner is nearly impossible. Crusted bread overall isn't really a thing, you'll sometimes find it in bigger supermarkets that have their own bakery but most of the time you'll just find toast, which you can keep for ages.
- People are generally very friendly and approachable. Most people usually ask you how you are after greeting you, whether they know you personally or not. For me that was confusing at first because I didn't really know what to say, but after a while I got used to it and now I thinks it's quite nice.
- Switching on sockets. If you think you can just plug in your electronics and expect them to charge automatically, you are mistaken, you have to turn the socket on first. This took some time and several uncharged phones to get used to, but in the end I developed a habit of switching unused sockets off.
- So much plastic. Plastic and unnecessary packaging is a general problem but in the UK it struck me even more than here, especially in supermarkets. Nearly everything is prepacked and you hardly ever find any loose fruit or vegetables, even bananas are wrapped in plastic.