DOs and DON’Ts when moving to the United Kingdom

Planning on moving to the UK? Are you excited, maybe a little bit scared? Are you sure you know everything there is to know about this marvellous, posh, tea-loving country with bad weather? Or are those just exaggerated statements? In this article you are going to read the basic things that should serve you when settling in the United Kingdom.

First of all, do not mix this up: England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom are NOT the same. Great Britain consists out of three separate and autonomous regions which include England, Scotland and Wales, and the United Kingdom is actually called “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and it is a country which includes England, Scotland, Wales, AND Northern Ireland (they are all not separate states but all a part of the United Kingdom).

Okay, now that this is out of the way, here are a couple of things that you should also know about the rules of conduct in the United Kingdom:

  • This is for the guys, remember, when you enter a room, take your hat off (especially when entering a church). However stylish the trend is right now, some things are simply considered bad manners, and you should probably avoid doing them.
  • Whenever you want to ask someone to move, or call your waiter or ask for anyone’s attention, a simple “Excuse me” will get you a long way.
  • When you are ordering drinks, in some countries you pay the tab in the end, but not in the UK, it would be best if you paid for drinks as you ordered or got them.
  • Besides from “Excuse me”, try to use “Sorry”, “Please” and “Thank you” often because that would imply that you have good manners and that you are polite, in fact it is considered rude if you do not do that. People even say “Sorry” when it is your fault and not even theirs, it is more of a cultural norm, a polite thing to do, a habit or a reflexive reaction that they seem to have acquired with time.
  • Whether you yawn or cough, make sure to always have your mouth covered.
  • Do not “jump queues”. Patiently wait in line as everyone else and do not try to jump in front of someone because that is very much frowned upon.
  • When being introduced to someone, just shake right hands, no kissing, no bowing, people here are pretty straightforward and simple. Kisses are reserved only for people who are very close to each other or related. Backslapping and hugging are also reserved for friends only so don’t go around too freely being too open and pushy, people appreciate their privacy and personal space, shake hands, smile and be as polite as you can.
  • Don’t forget that people drive on the left side of the road, it may confuse you for a first couple of days as it is pretty strange to get used to driving like that no matter how trivial it may sound.
  • When exiting and entering a building or an elevator, always hold the door for other people, man and women both do that for each other simply because it is nice, and whoever goes first holds the door for the person behind them.
  • When in public, avoid being loud and lower your voice as soon as you notice that people have started giving you strange looks, you are probably too loud. Also, do not stare at other people on the streets, it is also considered rude to stare.
  • Basically, in the UK they have a right way of doing things, and being courteous, respectful and well-mannered is very valued, therefore avoid things like: asking a lady her age, picking your nose (always use a handkerchief), spitting, burping (even if you cannot stop it cover your mouth when you feel it coming and always excuse yourself afterwards), etc.

Now, you have also probably heard a lot of negative things about the United Kingdom such as: “The weather is always awful there, it is cloudy, rainy and cold and damp and it’s never sunny”, or “Oh the United Kingdom is so expensive, you will never survive there”. Well, do not believe in just about everything you hear, because it is definitely not true. Yes, you probably should have an umbrella with you most of the times, just in case, but it doesn’t rain nearly as much as some claim, in fact, the weather there can be quite lovely. Go out there, experience the country on your own, and then go and tell true stories, of how truly amazing England is.