Hey mate, nice weather isn’t it? Nope? Oh sorry. Would you mind learning more about the stereotypical Briton and the weird stuff going on in the United Kingdom? No, it’s not only about England you bloody… sorry again. But seriously, sit back and learn more about the things that baffle – or charm – the foreigners when it comes to British culture with this list best paired with a cup of tea and biscuits.
This is only the beginning and we’re already sorry. The British say sorry a lot in different circumstances. It was estimated that it’s spoken at least eight times a day for each Briton, equivalent to 2,920 times a year, or 233,600 times in the average life.
The word ‘sorry’ is used to apologize, to excuse, to connect, to look weak, to look romantic, to be like Hugh Grant, or to just say it without reason at all. The good thing about it though, is its purpose to complete the stereotypically polite British person, which makes them appear more trustworthy. Sorry.
2. Class System
While the US keeps pointing out to people the importance of hard work and determination to grab the American dream, the UK will just laugh about that dream and tell you that it’s all about social classes. Are the Britons obsessed with class? Perhaps.
There’s even a whole new model that ditches the three main class divisions and reveals the seven social classes in the UK: the elite, the established middle class, the new affluent workers, the technical middle class, emergent service workers, traditional working class, and lastly, the precarious proletariat or precariat.
The existence of class separation is transparent enough to be seen in the way someone speaks, their clothes, their interests, their education, their ancestors, their friends, and even their food. Complicated? For non-Brits, it truly is.
3. Boring, Bland, Boiled
British cuisine has been synonymous with nope. Why does it leave such a bad taste for foreigners who have and haven’t tasted the whole range of it? Many observers say that British cuisine’s fall from grace had much to do with the residual effects of two world wars and strict rationing. But long gone are the times that carrots, peas, and potatoes were only boiled and mashed.
The tradition of flavorful cooking techniques has been back for a long time and refined food is something you can search in the country. London, for example, is known for its diverse cuisine while Glasgow happily serves tourists with their vegan and vegetarian-friendly food. As always, taste is subjective but it won’t hurt if you let your taste buds open for a newly-cooked bangers and mash, fish and chips, or jellied eels.
4. England is NOT the entire United Kingdom
England is sometimes wrongly used when talking about the whole United Kingdom, or even about Great Britain. To be clear, the name United Kingdom refers to the union of four separate countries and one of these countries is England. The other three are Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain on the other hand is only made up of England, Scotland, and Wales. Confusing? We hope not, especially when you start to figure out that each country doesn’t only use English as their everyday language.
5. The Good Cuppa
What is a list about the UK without talking about tea? UK is a nation of tea drinkers with 53 percent relying on a good cup of tea, beating coffee with over 165 million cups of tea consumed everyday across the nation. The word ‘tea’ doesn’t only refer to the drink. Saying ‘tea’ can also mean a time of the day, a meal, or a supper – well it’s already a part of being British. British Tea is mostly blended black tea made up of the teas from India, Sri Lanka, or East Africa. Typically, rich tea biscuits, digestives, or hobnobs are paired with a cup of tea.
The British love for queuing dates back to the days of rationing during and after the World Wars. The queue was an opportunity to catch up with the community, to access handouts and charity. Now, the art of queuing is seen as a habit from railway stations to Wimbledon. Ever thought of cutting the line? Don’t. Doing so will get you kicked out of the line and place you where you belong: at the back. When in doubt, ask, “Is this the back of queue?”.
7. Sense of Humor
It’s understandable when non-foreigners don’t get how people can laugh on British humor (or humour). The British sense of humor is equivalent to negative humor – sarcastic, self-depreciating. offensive, racist, and sexist. These qualities that compose the whole British humor appeared to be genetically linked in Britain but not shared by that country across the Atlantic (yes America that’s you). Irony isn’t an everyday thing for Americans unlike for the Britons who give and take it like a cup of tea, which can sometimes be a problem to recipients who aren’t used to it.
8. Obsession with the Weather
There’s the sunshine, then rain, then comes the snow that stays for months, a bit of sunshine again, sudden showers, and more months of unusual low temperatures. Who’s not going to be obsessed with the weather if things are as unpredictable as they are in the UK? It’s so unpredictable that all four seasons can even fit well in a day. Weather affects a Briton’s mood, health, income, or more so, the nation’s economy. Well it can even affect a conversation.
A study has found that more than half of the entire British population turns conversations into a climate talk at least once every six hours. This obsession has been a great icebreaker to appear friendly and keep conversations impersonal.
9. The Stiff Upper Lip
British people are known to be well-mannered and unemotional. Wait a minute, unemotional? No way. They just have the stiff upper lip. Keeping a stiff upper lip means to face misfortune bravely and resolutely, and suppressing the display of any emotion. It was a way of coping with any number of feelings that threaten to overwhelm the person.
A survey once revealed that most Britons were downhearted, more reserved, and careful spenders, proving that even in the present, the famous idiom is still alive. It could be something uniquely British but for some, the stiff upper lip needs to go away because it can affect relationships and even the chances to seek medical attention. Of course not all Britons are used to keeping that stiff upper lip. Gordon Ramsay and Russell Brand will explicitly disagree.
Besides tea, the Brits see a piece of toast as a legitimate, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week snack. It can even pass as a meal. A toast usually comes with butter, jam, or another kind of spread. The problem with the British toast for foreigners is when it is gladly served cold. Cold toast? No one’s sorry. It happens so the butter doesn’t melt too much. Any other options? Well, you can have a toast with baked beans on top, maybe a thinly-spread Marmite, or put one between two slices of bread and butter. Again, no one’s apologizing this time.