How to adapt to British Culture – from eHOW

| 23/05/2012 | 9 Comments

One of the most popular article is the Stereotypes about British Culture – how true they are?. One can argue they are true or not experiences decide. I found an interesting article about British stereotypes from an American point of view. For example “be prepared for smaller places” etc. The article written by eHOW.

Just like the United States, Britain is divided into different regions and areas. Britain is one of the most diverse nations in Europe with over 250 different languages being spoken in London alone. With such a varied culture, adapting to it can be a challenge for anyone. Following these steps should help you on your way.

Forget the stereotypes. Many of the long established stereotypes simply are not relevant in Britain today. Don’t assume that everyone is going to fall into the category of a beer swilling, bad-toothed tea addict. Abandoning pre-conceived ideas of people and culture will allow you to be more open-minded and readily able to assimilate the culture you find yourself in.

  • Understand the differences. Britain is comprised of different countries (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) and numerous different regions that all have their very own and very different traditions, dialect and even language. Understanding that culture in a highland village will not be the same as a southern English spa town will help you to avoid making mistakes and generalizations.

  • Get used to small spaces. The US is not only a huge country but we are used to bigger cars, houses and spaces. Like all European nations, Britain does not have the luxury of space. Houses, apartments, cars and appliances are all smaller than you are accustomed to, so become familiar with smaller areas.

  • Be polite. Adapt by blending into the crowd. Always apologize for bumping into someone (even if it was their fault). Respect people’s personal space and always wait in line. Bill Brysons’ book “Notes from a small island” (see resources) is filled with tips and humorous observations.

  • Go to the pub. The pub is a very important part of British culture and nothing will immerse you more than a pint of beer. Students, work colleagues, friends and family all meet in the pub and it is used as a focal point of social contact.

  • Accept the jokes. One of the most confusing aspects of British culture is humor. Bantering, ribbing, or “taking the mick” are all ways to describe making fun of someone but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Teasing someone is a common way to show affection. As one Brit put it, “you never make fun of someone you don’t like.”

Tips & Warnings

  • In a pub, pay for drinks as you buy them, not when you leave.
  • Don’t be surprised at ‘affectionate names’ such as “mate,” “duck” or “flower.”
  • Avoid being overly familiar with regional dialect and slang, people may find it annoying or even offensive.

Original Article:  How to Adapt to British Culture |

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Comments (9)

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  1. One useful tip you’ve left off here is to appreciate how reserved Brits are. Just because people don’t appear friendly, it doesn’t mean you’ve caused offence, or that anything bad has happened.

    • Loetitia says:


      I was wondering if it was me because a lot of them are very cold and I find hugely complicated to make friends…

      thanks for this tip

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