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Prepare for UK study

UK culture and features 

The United Kingdom is a multicultural society, however alongside this it has its own unique and sometimes quirky cultural features! 

It can get so confusing with all these different names! But don't worry, it is unlikely anyone will get offended if you use an incorrect name, but just so you know, here is what they mean:

The UK – United Kingdom. Made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (sometimes called Ulster)

Great Britain – made up of England, Wales and Scotland.

England – one of the 4 countries that make up the UK.   

Manners are very important

The British are a very polite nation and will expect you to be the same.

You should say please if you want something and thank you if you receive something. 

If you wish to interrupt someone, you should say excuse me and if you accidentally walk into someone then you should say sorry.

When you are in a restaurant or waiting at a bar you should never click your fingers for attention – if you do then you might find that you are ignored completely for the rest of the evening. 

The British also like to form orderly queues when there is more than one person wanting to do something. It is considered rude and very bad mannered to queue-jump or push in – to stand in front of someone who was already in a queue.

British accents (and the Stoke-on-Trent accent!)

You will encounter many different accents while living in the UK. After a while you will get used to the local accent and will understand it better. If you do not understand what someone is saying, ask if they can repeat themselves slowly. 

Do not be surprised if other people ask you to do the same, after all, yours will be a new accent for many locals!

Do not feel embarrassed or uncomfortable when you do not understand someone – this is completely normal (often, British people will have difficulty understanding another British accent!).

If you would like to practice getting used to the local dialect, you can tune into Stoke-on-Trent radio station 6 Towns Radio online.  

Tea and oatcakes anyone? 

No, it really isn't a myth, it is true that British people love a good cup of tea! The British drink 165 million cups a day! But be aware, "to have tea" locally can also mean to eat your evening meal. 

One thing local people may have for their tea is Staffordshire Oatcakes. These cereal-based food items are local to Staffordshire, particularly Stoke-on-Trent. Oatcakes are soft, flat and round, similar to a pancake. They can be eaten sweet or savoury and usually the filling is rolled up in the oatcake and eaten with your hands.

Fish and Chips is also a popular choice in the UK. This is a traditional, typically British takeaway meal consisting of a piece of fish (usually cod, plaice or haddock), coated in batter and deep fried and wrapped in paper. It is served with deep fried potatoes – chips.

Don't worry, British food isn't the only thing on the menu, there are also lots of supermarkets and restaurants where you can buy food from all over the world so you will be able to make your favourites from home.

Religious diversity

The United Kingdom is a multicultural society, and is accustomed to many different faiths and religions being practised and celebrated. 

Staffordshire University is a multicultural and multifaith community. We provide a very supportive environment.

Be aware of culture shock

Culture shock is a term used to describe the impact on a person moving from a familiar culture to once which is unfamiliar. It can affect anyone.

Some of the things that can affect culture shock are the different accents, foods, manners, and weather, plus a lack of family, friends and colleagues who you would normally turn to, to give you support and guidance.

It is very normal to experience this, and also it is usually temporary. There are also things you can do to help minimse the effects, such as keeping in touch with home - by phone, letter or email, have familiar things around you that have personal meaning such as photographs and try and find a supplier of familiar food, eat a healthy diet and take regular exercise, or join one of the Students' Union Societies where you can take up a new sport or activity or continue an interest from home. This will also help you make new friends. Also, try to find someone to talk to who will listen uncritically and with understanding rather than isolating yourself.

Make sure you spend time out of your room. It is very easy to become isolated when you are in a foreign country. Although you might be nervous trying something new, you’ll soon find that you didn’t need to worry! Students are generally a very happy bunch who are friendly and easy to approach. Telling people you’re from another country will always spark some interest around you.