I moved to England with my husband in 2016, and now we have spent almost three and a half years in this country, which definitely hasn’t made me an expert in the life here whatsoever. I tried to gather some interesting facts from the UK, which were surprising for me and my husband when we first came here. Of course, I compare the life here with my life in Hungary (where I am from) and Poland (where I lived for three and a half years after my university studies), so for you these facts may not be as surprising as they were for me. However, let’s see!
- The grass is always green.
I will write a whole post about UK-weather, but the thing is the UK’s climate is oceanic, that’s why the temperature is kind of always the same. Because of that, we have beautiful green fields here even in the wintertime, and in the summertime it stays green, because the sun is not so hot to burn it. Of course we can experience weather changes, but still, compared to Hungarian continental weather, here we always have some green trees and fields.
- Everybody queues here
The bus rides are very different here compare to Hungary. People queue up when they are getting on the bus (in Hungary and Poland people fight for their sweet life when the bus pulls up). Another nice thing is that everybody says thanks you to the driver when getting off the bus. I love this little gratitude practice even if it’s not a huge thing.
- The houses look the same
The neighborhoods here in the UK are very neat, almost all the houses are red bricked where I live. I heard that’s boring, but I think it’s just pretty. I love the bay windows and the trimmed front gardens. Not all the houses are the same, but they try to build up a town or a neighborhood with the same exterior, that’s why they look so neat.
- Electricity in the bathroom
In the UK there is no electricity in the bathroom. Sometime they put a shaver socket in, but even the light switch is made from a string (it’s called a ceiling switch apparently). In Hungary we are not as careful. We put the washing machine and everything in the bathroom. I’ve got used to the idea of doing the washing in the kitchen, but it’s annoying that I cannot dry my hair or charge my electric toothbrush in the bathroom.
- Price differences between shops
First thing we got here we realized there is huge difference in prices between grocery shops. Of course we have discounts in Hungary and cheaper shops. But we can say that in Poland or in Hungary, if the shop is bigger it’s cheaper. In the UK there is a huge difference in price between Tesco or Aldi even in the basics like sugar or flour. And here we have shops that sell way under the supermarket price because they sell products in bulk or surplus stock bought from bigger supermarkets that couldn’t put a larger quantity of certain products on the shelves.
- They drive on the wrong side of the road
I know, I know. The British say we drive on the wrong side of the road, but still. It was really hard to get used to the left side. When my husband drove here for the first time I got nightmares (I am not lying) that we would have a frontal collision. But we lived. Still my mom holds on for dear life in the double-decker because for her it feels like we drive opposite the traffic. And of course people walk on the other side of the pavement, so sometimes we just bump into each other.
- People actually smile at you on the street
A little goes a long way. Almost the first thing I realized after we arrived here is that people are nice to you. They’re almost always polite and smiling. It’s a really nice thing if you smile at somebody on the streets and they smile back at you. I really miss this when I go back to Hungary, and I get really strange looks when I do the same there.
This is also a huge topic. The first English speaking country I visited was Canada. There were no real issues about understanding the different accents there. Here in the UK it’s a whole different ballgame. Accents changes regionally (I know in the US as well, but it’s not the same, trust me) and sometimes they sound like gibberish to me. Of course you can get used to it. My husband who works in an office is so much better with it, but still there are some accents that are really hard to understand (especially on the phone… OMG). And even native speakers admit that sometimes they cannot understand each other clearly.
- Pubs are places for families
In Hungary there’s no way of you going in a pub with a child. In the UK the pubs are family places. Everybody goes there to watch football, eat Sunday roast or fish and chips and drink. I am in love with English pubs, there is a wide range of beers and nice foods and a pleasant atmosphere.
- There is no ID card here.
In Hungary the official documents are a sacred. In the UK they do not have ID cards or address cards or tax number cards (yep, In Hungary we have all of these). You can use your passport or your birth certificate with your NI number as an ID. As for your address, you use bank statements or energy bills. It was strange at first, but actually I think bureaucracy is simpler here.