Before you pass through customs and head out on your student tour of England it’s always helpful to explore the cultural differences you’re likely to encounter. Whether you’re from a Northeastern metro or small Midwestern community there is likely to be one or two cultural norms you weren’t expecting to uncover. Experiencing a new culture for the first time is always a thrilling adventure, but making sure you’re prepared will help ensure a smooth and positive tour experience.
No other country has as many varieties of crisp (potato chips) available. You can feast on anything from a Smokey Bacon to a Lamb Curry flavor. What’s the most popular flavor? I have no idea…But I’m sure it’d be a lot fun trying to find out.
An ongoing British music invasion
England is incredibly proud of its musical history (and present). The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics was generally accepted as a great success, especially because of its musical showcase. Beijing might have had 10,000 people moving at the same time, but England played to their strength and produced a rocking Summer Olympics soundtrack titled Isles of Wonder.
The island mentality of England
The island mentality of Britain is, arguably, most keenly felt by the English. It’s quite common for England to exclusively see themselves as English and not European. Much of this view was enforced by the Battle of Britain (1940) when Britain stood, essentially, alone against a Nazi aerial onslaught. This was a crucial time in the development of our national psychology.
A unique kind of humor
Ask English people what they’re most proud of and they’ll probably say their sense of humor. Whether you’re in London or Liverpool self-deprecation and not taking yourself too seriously goes a long way.
A range of British media
England has at least nine national daily newspapers offering a wide range of political views as well as a wide ranging opinion on what is considered newsworthy. Take the time to read a few and you’ll most likely have plenty of cultural questions after.
Take-away (take-out) food in England
There is a worrying lack of good Mexican restaurants to be found in England – to our shame. You’ll find Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants in most towns. Fast food is popular but goes little beyond the major franchises. Ask an English person for a White Castle and they’ll send you to a stately home in the countryside.
A similar yet very different sports culture
Football (soccer) has long been the national sport of England. Cricket and rugby aren’t too far behind, but after 2012 Olympic success cycling, rowing, and horseback riding have grown in popularity. Ironically all three of these sports require you to sit down…
Rules of the tube (subway)
In London most people will use the tube (subway) to get around. It’s important to understand the proper etiquette. Always stand on the right side of a moving escalator, never crowd the platform and, once you’re on the train, keep the chatter to a minimum – as this is the time when Londoners like to awkwardly and amusingly ponder the meaning of life.
Ready to experience these cultural truths for yourself? Browse all tours to England here.