For many people around the world, living in England is like a dream. Some hope to find money, job opportunities, better living conditions… I too have always dreamed of living in England ever since my first English lesson in primary school in fact. I thought I would love to live in a country where they speak that language all the time, so when I finally moved to the UK for good, it was like one great achievement in my life, one dream come true that I could tick off my list.
Living in England – Culture Shock
You may think that moving from France to the UK is not that big a deal, after all the 2 countries are neighbours, part of the same European culture bla bla bla… Well, if that’s what you think, you are WRONG.
Living in England can be strange and can be even more strange depending where you come from. But I guess that could be said from any country. By strange I mean that I’ve always wanted to move to the UK and I’ve lived there 10 years (counting my time in Wales) but I can’t say that I really “liked” it. Too many things I just could never understand and which made me think that I could never be totally “acclimatised”.
Here are just a few examples:
!!! they don’t have shutters on house windows… (don’t ask) and yet if the one odd guy decides to fit some, they are just for decoration, as in they are not wide enough to cover the full window!
!!! they once passed a law to reduce crimes caused by binge drinking on weekends. What did the law say? Increase age limit? NO! Increase alcohol prices? NO! Tougher sentences for alcohol related crimes? NO! NO! and NO!… they actually INCREASED the opening hours of pubs and bars on weekends?
!!! I once watched someone “cook” an egg. They first took a tea mug and filled it with water, cracked an egg into the full mug and placed it in a microwave for a few minutes. Of course the whole thing exploded inside and when they opened the door, the most awful smell ever came out. If that wasn’t enough they then placed the “egg-thing” between 2 slices of white bread. English Dinner! Or would you rather have a boiled beef steak?
!!! and what’s with the driving on the WRONG side of the road anyway? I mean come on!
Living in England – Adaptation
Anyway as I’ve said, I lived there for 6 years. I actually moved to Wales for a bit then moved back to England after that. I was a student there, I worked there, I got married there and my first son was even born in England. All this by choice … so there’s gotta be something good right?
I would say it is the complete acceptance of other people’s culture that I love. When people settle here, they are not expected to blend in. They can absolutely come to the UK and bring their home culture, traditions and practices with them. It is totally accepted and acceptable and I just love that.
You will find almost everywhere places of worship for all religions, community/language/faith schools, shops that sell food/clothes/household items/books… for all cultures. On any given day you’ll walk down the street and pass by a guy with spiky blue hair and piercings all over his face, a Sikh with a long white beard and a turban, a Muslim lady covered from head to tow in black with niqab (face veil), you’ll hear conversations in Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Arabic, French, Polish, German, Welsh, Italian, Greek, Chinese… all within a 10 minutes time frame… and THAT is why I stayed there so long!
The UK may not appear at first to be so different from other European countries but the more i got to know the place the more I realised that living in England wasn’t for me anymore. OK maybe I am biased because I’m French but still those guys can be really strange sometimes.
One last note, it is important to remember that my experience in the UK was very different in Wales and in England. I loved Wales and to this day, I keep many fond memories of my 3 years living there. I am in no hurry to set foot in England again though.
Feeling inspired? OK, here are a few articles about living in England: