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Specialist Language Courses

5 assertions about the UK and their truth – The UK through the eyes of a German girl.

Is the English culture and behaviour really that different from the rest of Europe? And if so, what are the most popular prejudices against the typical British person? Are these true, or are they just stereotypes?

Here at SLC our aim is to help European citizens to work in the UK, just as I, Jule Kirchner, have also done.  As an intern at SLC, I closely experience  the every-day working life in the UK, and I would to share some of my thoughts and observations.

So here are 5 assertions about the UK and their truth:

1.“British People do everything the other way around.”

Of course this prejudice is absolutely true. The first thing that comes to mind is that British people do everything the “wrong” way around. They drive on the left side (therefore the steering wheel is on the right or shall I say the “wrong” side, and you have to look to the right when crossing the street), they walk on the left side (e.g. on the pavement) and even when they lay the table, British people position the forks to the left of the plate. My first thought-a very justified thought- was that the UK must have a huge number of people who are left handed. But I was wrong. According to The Telegraph 11% of the people living in the UK are left handed. It’s probably the strong British national pride that makes the population continue to adhere to their old traditions.

2.“British people love queues” 

Yes, British people are patient. A prime example of this being the neatly formed queue for the bus, as all British people stand by until everyone is off the bus, and then one by one they wait until everybody has shown their ticket before entering the vehicle. There are few things more likely to raise the ire of the British temperament than ignoring a queue and walking straight to the counter. In Germany they attempted to replicate this method, but failed miserably at it after only one month of pushing and complaining. And, last but not least, the English are so polite to the bus driver, as they always show their appreciation by saying “thank you” when getting off the bus (for a foreigner this is politeness is incomprehensible).

3.“British people speak in a highbrow manner.”

This statement is neither true nor false. It depends on the age, the social status and the origin of the person in question. Sounds Familiar? The UK is a rich landscape of regional accents and dialects therefore, there is a percentage of people that possess a strong British accent, and a percentage that does not. In general, older people tend to have a stronger accent than the younger part of the population who is often influenced by the American slang. But this much is certain: the strong British accent makes everything sound serious and very important. Whether they are giving directions to a tourist or telling a sad story, they use the same tone of voice, which can be very confusing for a foreign listener.

4.“British people drink nothing but tea” 

Honestly, it is impossible to boldly state whether this is true or false. When I arrived in the UK I thought it wouldn’t be long before I would be drinking tea all day, every day, like you see in the films. Against all clichés the British busy worker tends to drink way more coffee than tea. Very disappointing. But of course there are people who do drink tea. Research shows the average Briton drinks 876 cups of tea a year – enough to fill more than two bathtubs. 

5.“British people drinks a lot of beer (daily)” 

Indeed! The famous pubs in the UK are people’s favourite place in which to end up at the end of a long, stressful day. Whether it be a Monday or a Friday the pubs are almost always filled with men in suits drinking their well-deserved end of work beers. According to the Dailymail British people drink almost 15,000 pints of beer every minute.

Can you think of any other ways in which Britain is different from your own country? We would love to hear from you on the matter.