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Things you should do and say in the UK!
Everyone is alright!
After staying in the UK for a few days you will have heard the phrase “You alright” a fair amount of times. This is one of the first things to confuse tourists when they visit for the first time. In other countries, the question ‘are you alright’ often means that someone is asking you how you feel and wants you to tell them about this. In the UK this phrase is used as a simple greeting and does not imply that people who ask it want to know how you feel. It is just another way of saying ‘hi’ and when someone is asked “You alright”, they respond by saying “Yeah, you alright”. This is usually said while passing by someone and the exchange of words ends after both people have said their greeting.
Britain prides itself on helpfulness and politeness and this is generally expected by all members of society. When doing something helpful people will often say “Cheers” or in some cases “Cheers mate”. This phrase means thank you and does not imply that the person is cheering, nor that they are your mate or friend. “Mate” is predominantly used by males of all ages and “bro” is mainly added at the end of the phrase by younger males. Contrary to people’s beliefs, being called mate or bro does not mean that you have any kind of particular relationship with the person who says this to you. It is a nicety very many people use.
Walk on the left
The UK’s traffic system will stand out as being the other way around to many people from all around the world. If you are used to walking or driving on the right side of the road you will have to change which road or pavement side you walk on in every situation during your stay in the UK. Walking on the right might cause you to bump into people who might not be expecting anyone to come walking in front of them, but this is of course not as lethal as its driving equivalent.
Even though London is just one of the UK’s cities it can be distinguished from many others by its unique pulse as a city and the way of life that seems to run differently than in most other cities in the UK. Of course this can only properly be understood through a firsthand experience. In order to make your first experience a safe and secure one it is very useful to know one thing: Never walk close to the edge of the pavement. Busses and other vehicles will often drive so close to the pavement that standing near the edge is dangerous for passengers and might result in people getting scraped or hit by passing traffic. It is therefore best to keep a safe distance from the road and walk as close to the buildings as possible. This can be hard sometimes as pavements become quite narrow in some areas of London, but the same rule still applies and you might need to walk very close to the walls of buildings next to you in order to avoid coming in contact with cars and buses.
Britain is famous for its tea and rumor has it that everyone drops what they are doing at noon and sits down to have a cup of tea. This may sound funny and a bit farfetched, but it is actually also a common stereotype of British people. It may also come as a surprise that this is not completely untrue. Dinner time, which is the meal that is commonly had in the evening or late afternoon, is commonly referred to as ‘tea’ in many parts of Britain. And yes, tea is also often had around that time, if one so wishes. Stories about people stopping what they do to have tea at 12 O’clock are however false, as you may have guessed.
Etiquette and unspoken rules
Good manners, posh behavior and a strict etiquette that all citizens abide by; these are all stereotypes that people associated the UK with. Whether all of these are true can best be found out by observing people on the street and anywhere you go in your day-to-day life. It is in fact true that people will expect each other to be polite and helpful. Instances of this behavior can be seen in situations where people bump into each other on the street for example. Both parties will usually say ‘sorry’ after this occurs. You will also often hear people saying ‘thank you’ to the bus driver one by one when stepping off the bus. By doing so they express their appreciation of the bus driver's dutiful service. Niceties, such as saying thank you and sorry in any possible situation, come very naturally to locals. The everyday practice people care most of all about is being patient and queuing. It is greatly looked down upon if others do not wait their turn, which means that you should always make sure to arrange yourself accordingly in every queue.