First of all, good for you. I can’t stress enough how important a gap year/study abroad can be. Having lived in the UK, US, and France, I feel like sharing some of my more embarrassing encounters while living abroad. Here are some situations that I have gotten myself into when I moved abroad. Enjoy!
After having learned “Oxford English” at school, I felt well-prepared for my big move to the United Kingdom. What I didn’t realize until then was that there are so many different British accents and to me, the Northern ones were quite hard to understand. So a couple of times, I had no idea what people were talking about which made it super hard to communicate.
Have you ever been in a situation when someone asks you a question but you only understood 30, 50 % max of what they were saying? Yes?! That’s when I started giving vague answers. Trying to cover all aspects of the possible question. Needless to say that sometimes I talked about completely different things. But hey, at least I tried.
Another confusing thing about England- TEA! To me and let’s be honest, to most of you guys, tea is a hot beverage. So picture my confusion when I was invited over to my friends’ house for tea and the good guest I am, brought yummy flavored tea bags as a gift, only to find out that tea means dinner!
I immensely enjoyed my shepherd’s pie though so when my friends asked me what I wanted for pudding, I was like: “I don’t know, maybe a strawberry flavored one?” Another faux-pas as pudding could basically be any dessert. Lesson learned!
The most embarrassing thing happened to my friend though. We met in America (more about my time over there to follow) and actually decided to share a flat in Glasgow. One day she went in for a job interview and it went really well so the interviewer actually wanted her to do a trial day and see how she would fit in with the team.
It was a job at a restaurant so her dress-code related question really isn’t that absurd – if you’re used to living in the US that is. Following her question, if she should wear pants, she never got offered the job as what people call pants in America are actually called trousers in the UK. So she literally asked her potential boss whether she should wear underwear to work. AWKWARD!!!
By the way, you can’t imagine how many times I have been mistaken for an American over here. To be fair, I seemed to have picked up quite a bit of an accent from my time over there, but even if I hadn’t, I think people would still know that I am a foreigner. Possibly by my constant checking before crossing a road.
I mean, I should know by now that Brits are driving on the left but seriously it took me way to long to get used to checking the right first which basically ended in a near-death experience (I realized that I spent way too much time watching TV) when a nice truck driver (we call them lorry driver over here) almost ran me over because I didn’t do the mandatory right / left / right check. Luckily, I jumped out of his way just in time… That’s why I am now always double-checking whether it’s clear so death won’t be in my immediate future (or at least not from getting hit by a car).
A whole section devoted to queues you ask? Is that really necessary? The answer is: YES! Brits like to queue. Sometimes you find random queues and if you feel adventurous you might as well just line up only to find out that it doesn’t lead you anywhere. But you know, you are surely going to meet like-minded people so that might be a good enough reason in itself already. But NEVER EVER, and I can’t stress this enough, cut in line!!!
Also if you happen to be using the London Underground aka the Tube and you are changing lines or trying to make your way out, make sure to always stand on the right side on the escalators since Londoners are usually in a rush and tend to walk up/down the escalator to catch the next tube and if you happen to be in their way, they understandably get a little upset.
So if you want to avoid a confrontation with an angry Londoner, stand on the right, people. Also, dogs must be carried. Paddington Bear Reference. If you got it, you are now officially my new best friend.