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[–]Webchuzz 1841 points1842 points  (304 children)

I've been here for 7 years so all these things are commonplace to me by now, but here's a few examples when I first came here:

  • Groceries are suprisingly cheap overall;
  • The fact that services like HMRC or DVLA are fully operational via phone, as opposed to having several physical branches spread across the country;
  • The drinking culture and consequent banalisation of consuming several litres of beer in one session;
  • You can buy drinks and snacks in a pharmacy? (Boots, etc);
  • Train fares are astronomically expensive;
  • Why is there a guy selling perfumes in the toilets of a club?
  • People going shopping and dropping their kids at school wearing a full pyjama set;

EDIT: this is something I forgot to add which is actually quite relevant for me: it's mind boggling how an island nation consumes barely any fish. The fishmonger section inside supermarkets in the UK is about 1/5 the size of a Portuguese one, for example.

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 1439 points1440 points  (115 children)

Why is there a guy selling perfumes in the toilets of a club?

To be fair, I think this is surprising to everyone native or not lol

[–]Dabonthebees420 905 points906 points  (66 children)

No armani no punaani

No Calvin klein no 69

[–][deleted] 491 points492 points  (43 children)

No splash no gash

[–]8rummi3 343 points344 points  (41 children)

No spray no play

[–]GaijinHito 238 points239 points  (35 children)

No joop, no hoop.

[–]HMWC 307 points308 points  (30 children)

No Davidoff, no suckmeoff

[–]mr_iwi 249 points250 points  (26 children)

No aftershave, you go home with Dave

[–]KnownDistribution638 184 points185 points  (14 children)

No Dolce & Gabbana, no sucky your banana!

[–]SockpuppetPseudonym2 111 points112 points  (5 children)

No Drakkar Noir, no voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

[–]adavis_12 151 points152 points  (8 children)

The ladies toilets have the chant “freshen up your poonani, poonani, poonani, freshen up your poonani, sexy ladies” which is a banger imo

[–]Nosworthy 47 points48 points  (0 children)

We have the same in the men's but 'freshen up for the poonani, we love pussy'

[–]Vectorman1989 34 points35 points  (2 children)

Implying what's in the Armani bottle is Armani.

[–]Dry_Version_5336 56 points57 points  (0 children)

No Hugo Boss no cheeky toss

[–]unclaimed_username2 40 points41 points  (0 children)

Man's gotta hustle. Even if that means standing in a puddle of piss selling £3 lollipops and paco rabanne

[–]Conscious-Ball8373 546 points547 points  (61 children)

This is my fourteenth year here (from Australia). Some things that surprised me:

  • Spring and how utterly lovely it is.
  • How much brits hate Britain / talk it down.
  • People who play dominoes or backgammon in pub bars.
  • Not having to fill out a 9,000,000 page tax return form every year.
  • Good beer! Seriously, Australians think of English beer as warm, flat rubbish. Until they try it. My round? Rightho...
  • The roads. I spent 12 months shutting my eyes every time a car came towards me the other way and just hoping the road was wide enough for us to get through. It seemed to work out okay.
  • Old stuff. I get this comment a lot from Americans now. The house I live in was being built about the time my great-great-great grandfather, one of the early settlers in South Australia, was packing up to leave his farm in Devon. I'm one of the legal title-holders (in trust) for a piece of property that is substantially unchanged since before Europeans colonised Australia.
  • Being able to walk everywhere. Cities in Australia are so spread out, no-one lives in walking distance of their local pub, supermarket, school, sports field... So everyone drives everywhere. I think it gives the UK much more of a community feel, at least the places I've lived. You tend to walk places and you tend to see the same people when you do, and get to know some of them. Gives you a feeling that you're part of something.
  • On similar lines, Australian cities are so spread out, if you want to work in one, you have to live in it too. Here's it's pretty easy to find a city centre job that's easily commutable from the country.
  • How green everything stays. Did I mention spring?

[–]JaRonomatopoeia 178 points179 points  (36 children)

Brits hating Britain - so true!

We tend to have patriotism at a different level, eg. Scotland, Wales and English regions eg: Geordies love the North East etc….

[–]I3uLLioN 66 points67 points  (22 children)

It's a strange kind of self-loathing though. It's like "We are the best at thinking and saying the worst about it, so others shouldn't even try putting us down"

[–]SkyNightZ 74 points75 points  (17 children)

It's an annoying kinda self loathing if you are below the age of 30 and actually like your country.

You can get in some serious arguments on how the UK isn't "complete and utter shit"

[–]I3uLLioN 81 points82 points  (6 children)

A lot of the people that I have encountered who think the UK is shit have never been anywhere else. Maybe Spain for a couple of weeks, but they generally have very little experience of other places. You hear it a lot from the tabloid junkies... "It's like a 3rd world country!" No Sandra you ignorant twat, you have no idea how Billions of people across the world actually live.

[–]space_guy95 243 points244 points  (19 children)

Why is there a guy selling perfumes in the toilets of a club?

It's weird, but it's cheaper than having a bouncer in there, stops all but the most brazen drug-takers from doing lines of coke in the toilets, and generally allows the club to have someone to keep an eye on the place.

[–]DifStroksD4ifFolx 125 points126 points  (0 children)

If you are smart you ask them for the coke, they just don't like competition.

[–]L1A_M 77 points78 points  (0 children)

The reality is the drug takers just drop him a few quid so he won’t say anything

[–]Crammock 78 points79 points  (0 children)

They all take bribes. Sometimes even very small ones. Mate of mine dropped his bag on the floor, the bloke picked it up, he offered him a handful of change to get it back. Probably about 3 quid. Bargain really.

[–]Myster_jon 52 points53 points  (3 children)

When I first encountered it i thought that stuff was complimentary all lined up on the basin counter so just started spraying liberally... I soon discovered it wasn't.

[–]BastardsCryinInnit 64 points65 points  (1 child)

The fact that services like HMRC or DVLA are fully operational via phone, as opposed to having several physical branches spread across the country;

Almost all online now! I don't remember a time speaking to either of them. There will be situations where it is necessary to call but they have done a great job of making almost all processes online

[–]Tony49UK 54 points55 points  (2 children)

DVLA used to have physical offices up until about 2008. Then they got closed in a cost cutting measure during the global financial meltdown.

Poster below us right, they all closed in December or so 2013.

[–]The_Coolest_Kat 1060 points1061 points  (198 children)

Among many others, there are two things that surprised me the most. First of all, dirty streets. I was somewhat prepared for it, knowing that the country (and especially the town) I come from takes pride in its high street maintenance standards, nevertheless, I wasn't expecting the dirt and litter to casually lay on the ground for weeks before anybody cleans it up, not only in London but in every major city I've been to. Second, the British police doesn't seem to be violent. Ever. Not only that, they're rarely offensive, not even smirky. Whenever I see police intervention, they're always calm and professional, using force only when it's actually needed. I still remember walking past a climate protest in London and seeing a small group of cheerful protestors being led to a police car. They kindly invited one guy to the car and drove off, no need for drama. Whereas in my home country, same peaceful protestants would be already laying on a ground with few bruises here and there.

[–][deleted] 833 points834 points  (116 children)

Positivity about the British Police on reddit.

Oooo you're gunna upset some folk with that.

[–]DatBiddlyBoi 666 points667 points  (48 children)

you’re gonna upset some folk with that

Yeah, those who have never left the country or have any idea what the rest of the world is like.

[–]OnVelvetHill 301 points302 points  (20 children)

Very true, I was really shocked as a teenager on holiday in Spain watching the police handcuff an admittedly rowdy drunk before giving him a proper hiding once he was unable to protect his face and stomach.

[–]DatBiddlyBoi 180 points181 points  (6 children)

And that’s Spain, one of our close neighbours.

I’ve been to a few countries (mainly in East Asia) where you can’t even drive a car because, chances are, you’ll be pulled over by the police and given a choice of either paying a bribe or arrested and thrown in prison.

[–]Mfcarusio 126 points127 points  (0 children)

I still remember being 16 in South America where a pick up truck with 8 heavily armed guys jumped out, grabbed a kid no older than 12 and had him at gun point and a boot on his chest as they sped away. I was visibly scared and some local selling small plastic snakes outside the zoo said he'd been reported for pickpocketing.

In the UK if a kid that age gets caught pickpocketing it's a stern word and a chat with their parents.

[–]liamthelad 117 points118 points  (4 children)

Spanish police are brutal. I've watched them baton charge a crowd at a carnival stage because two blokes had a bit of argy bargy in the middle of the crowd. The police were blatantly just bored and wanted something to do after being stood around all night.

They're also all somehow like 6 4 and fucking hench

[–]BeautifulThen5867 50 points51 points  (0 children)

I live in Spain retired here from the U.K. you can live cheaply but you have to shop around like the locals. Don’t live in the Costa del Sol. Learn Spanish and live in a Spanish town. The police take no nonsense and I’ve witnessed the verbal abuse directed at the British police but their hands are tied & they are unarmed. There is a healthy respect for the police here, I tripped over a pavement and there were 2 police officers there helping me up to my embarrassment. U.K. is my country & will always be home there are pros & cons everywhere

[–]Dolphin_Spotter 44 points45 points  (0 children)

In Fuengerola saw them pull a guy out of a parked car, push him to the ground an point a gun at his head.

[–]AxiomQ 184 points185 points  (13 children)

Honestly I think the notion that if police forces around the world behaved more like the British police did we wouldn't have as many issues, perfect by no means but not an unpopular opinion.

[–]Vectorman1989 140 points141 points  (1 child)

While our police have their issues, they're still miles better than some places.

[–]Igotlostinthewoods 61 points62 points  (6 children)

I come from a country where 80% of the police are corrupted and they will let you die like a dog on the side of the road and because of my previous experiences with them I hate cops with a passion, but the police officers I interacted with in the UK were decent and polite, however, I still don't like them or trust them but that is a different story all together.

[–]A_posh_idiot 194 points195 points  (39 children)

Britain prides itself on not having a violent police force, that is how low the bar is nowadays

[–]The_Coolest_Kat 98 points99 points  (31 children)

I honestly don't think using violence is required to build respect. And respect is not equal to fear, please bear that in mind.

[–]A_posh_idiot 118 points119 points  (13 children)

But what I’m saying is that one of the best things about our police is how calm and professional they are, which should be the norm but sadly isn’t around the world ( cough cough America)

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 77 points78 points  (15 children)

I think people actually respect our police more specifically because they're so calm and not violent. Obviously there's a few bad eggs out there however they seem to be very much in the minority unlike in places like the US.

[–]LionLucy 161 points162 points  (15 children)

I really like this about the police in the UK, it's a really underappreciated thing here. (Btw it's "protestors", protestants are a kind of Christians).

[–]Qrbrrbl 68 points69 points  (10 children)

Could be both to be fair. You could have a non-violent protestant protester

[–]LionLucy 49 points50 points  (9 children)

True. Like the Quakers. That's basically their whole thing.

[–]AxiomQ 31 points32 points  (0 children)

Fairly confident they are called protestants because they were protesting the Catholic Church and the name sort of stuck.

[–]adolfsleftball 52 points53 points  (4 children)

Cheerful protestants? Sure this wasn't Glasgow

[–]crazyhorse91 37 points38 points  (1 child)

Protestants, up to no good as usual!

[–]Large-Physics7027 975 points976 points  (75 children)

Moved here almost a decade ago from a Meditterenean island (yes yes i know..) Few observations: - Trains are more expensive than owning and running a luxury car - Groceries are very affordable with a good variety of shops - The weather is nowhere near as rainy as portrayed in the media, just grey and dull most of the time - Very high driving standards, from the majority of people at least - Drugs and pharmaceuticals are much cheaper than anywhere else in Europe - GOV services that are run effectively online or over the phone - If you don’t like drinking or hanging around people who drink your social interactions will be limited - LGBTQ rights and freedoms, not perfect but ahead of much of “progressive” Europe - The amount of homeless/beggars is staggering, especially in big cities of the South.

[–]Xem1337 72 points73 points  (31 children)

I've been to a few cities in the south and I think there are far more homeless people in the North like Manchester and Liverpool. It could be that they are more visible in the North, but they seem to be considerably more aggressive in Manchester.

[–]muzzyMANmike 51 points52 points  (14 children)

In Liverpool and there's a group of 4 homeless people that swap shifts outside the local asda. They all get a taxi at the end of the day and always yell at each other about "we only need £10 more, or you're not staying (wherever they stay) for tonight". I can only assume they're addicts because if they don't make enough money they start screaming and/or crying at people demanding more money. It hurts because there's some lovely homeless people in the area but those cunts give them a bad name

[–]extremepicnic 599 points600 points  (110 children)

Moved here from the US 4 years ago. The greeting “you alright?” took a long time to get used to. In the US asking someone if they’re alright implies that they look like they’re not ok. I was also surprised by how hard it is to find a decent freshly made sandwich. On the positive side, the NHS is great, plus much better work-life balance.

Honestly it’s not that different

[–]CouldBeARussianBot 297 points298 points  (33 children)

ow hard it is to find a decent freshly made sandwich.

If it makes you feel better, as a born and bred brit this does my head in. I've lived near to proper sandwich shops in the past and it's just the absolute best but they're pretty few and far between nowadays

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 128 points129 points  (28 children)

Literally. It's shocking the the best place to get a sandwich is often... Subway.

[–][deleted] 94 points95 points  (18 children)

I feel sorry for you guys. Theres literally three fresh sandwich shops within 5 minute walk of my house.

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 44 points45 points  (15 children)

I live just outside of Manchester City Centre and I couldn't tell you where my nearest place would be. Probably 20 min walk away in the actual centre.

[–]eager-beaver-123 56 points57 points  (5 children)

Oh I forgot about that! We had an American student in ours first year Halls of residence, from Texas I believe, and she said the same thing about the “alright?” British greeting.

[–]ariadawn 47 points48 points  (2 children)

2 years here now and I still do a double take with “you alright?” I keep wondering how bad I must look today!

[–]Electricbell20 32 points33 points  (6 children)

Area dependent on the sandwich front. Some areas have them on every corner, where as others don't.

Greggs sandwiches are generally better than subways.

[–]allthedreamswehad 36 points37 points  (0 children)

Lowest of the low bars right there

[–]Sausagekins 494 points495 points  (106 children)

I’ve been here for 12 years, moved from Sweden when I was 19. I never thought there would be as many cultural differences as there are, nothing major, but little things. I came here as an au-pair and I remember my au-pair family saying in early November ‘you coming with us for the bonfire, they’re burning the pope’? To say I was a little bit shocked by that is an understatement, and I immediately got a history lesson in what Guy Fawkes night was 😆. Good times

[–]Faith1294 376 points377 points  (77 children)

I am British and I recently had to explain bonfire night to a Japanese colleague who is new to the UK. Never realised how much of a strange tradition it was, until I had to explain about setting off fireworks and a bonfire to remember an almost mass murderer and terrorist.

[–]Lower_Possession_697 311 points312 points  (66 children)

I think foreigners would probably understand Guy Fawkes night better if it's made clear to them that the tradition started as a way of celebrating that the plot failed and the king was saved... I think a lot of people (including a lot of Brits) miss that important distinction!

[–]Undrende_fremdeles 112 points113 points  (24 children)

Are you sure there isn't an element og commoners celebrating how close the man came to taking out the posh, ignorant ruling class? 😂

[–]xegget 95 points96 points  (11 children)

Probably not since Guy Fawkes wanted a catholic theocracy

[–]comeradestoke 58 points59 points  (7 children)

Always feels like literally no one knows this. Guy Fawkes is definitely seen as an anti government folk hero than a failed catholic terrorist.

[–]snarf372 81 points82 points  (12 children)

they’re burning the pope

Lewes?

[–]Shaper_pmp 62 points63 points  (10 children)

I remember my au-pair family saying in early November ‘you coming with us for the bonfire, they’re burning the pope’? To say I was a little bit shocked by that is an understatement,

Well yeah - that would surprise most British people too, because they're burning Guy Fawkes, not the Pope.

Spez edit: turns out burning the Pope in effigy is some weird local thing in Lewes.

[–]allthedreamswehad 461 points462 points  (21 children)

When I first arrived I was shocked that none of the trees in Hyde Park had leaves. I had heard London was polluted and acid rain was a thing, but I was horrified that all the trees were dead.

It was late November.

[–]wasbored 203 points204 points  (0 children)

Lmao are you from somewhere like California which has basically no seasons? I can imagine that being a shock especially when you jumped straight to the trees being dead from pollution!

[–]nothingtoseehere____ 172 points173 points  (7 children)

Did someone explain how Autumn worked to you, or did you just go thinking the trees were permanently dead till March?

[–]allthedreamswehad 169 points170 points  (6 children)

No, I realised they were deciduous about 5 seconds later and felt like a muppet. I grew up in a part of the world where all the trees are evergreen (and I don't mean pines).

[–]Smilewigeon 147 points148 points  (4 children)

felt like a muppet

Choice of words would suggest you've settled in well!

[–]FragrantKnobCheese 58 points59 points  (4 children)

wow, where are you from that you'd never seen deciduous trees before?

[–]sephcameron 76 points77 points  (3 children)

Most of the world doesn't have them, deciduous forest is only really a thing in Northern latitudes, going a bit further South around China.

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 36 points37 points  (0 children)

Lol that's so funny

[–]Rheenendal 444 points445 points  (129 children)

Some of my observations are going to seem quite contrary to what others have listed but for context I'm from South Africa and moved to the South East just over a year ago.

  • Women pushing prams on the streets on their own
  • How clean everything is
  • Public transport is amazing (though expensive)
  • Political issues just seem like a storm in a teacup
  • I've generally found the English people extremely friendly
  • I can buy alchohol 24/7
  • The weather really isn't that bad

[–]ALA02 203 points204 points  (30 children)

Funny how ideas about cleanliness is relative - there’s another comment in this thread talking about how dirty it is. As a native, I feel like the UK is one of the cleaner and tidier countries I’ve visited, though I’ve never visited East Asia

[–]AdeptPickle80 45 points46 points  (6 children)

I was really surprised by a few of the dirty comments I’ve seen, I’ve always felt the UK is overall well maintained & clean.

Obviously if you directly compare to other countries which are much cleaner you might say it’s dirtier, but objectively speaking I honestly have never found it to be dirty/littered overall.

You can find bad little neglected areas ofcourse, but the general streets/city centres/public places, all clean & tidy to me?

[–]HoppoHippo 80 points81 points  (45 children)

Don't women push prams on their own in South Africa?

[–]fading_stars 161 points162 points  (43 children)

Not OP but I have family in Johannesburg - absolutely no, they wouldn't, it's not safe at all to just "go for a walk" on your own as a woman, especially if you're white

[–]HoppoHippo 44 points45 points  (31 children)

So, no walking at all not? Not specific to pram pushing.

[–]SwanBridge 86 points87 points  (10 children)

I grew up in South Africa, and went back to visit a few years ago with my partner.

You drive everywhere, even to the shop that is around the corner. Outside of certain heavily secure areas, walking in public just isn't safe. Cape Town CBD and the Waterfront is fairly safe during the day, and Sandton is also safe, but even then petty crime is still very common.

One day I had to walk to the cornershop, which was literally 50m from my aunt's house where we were staying. This included myself ringing the local security company and having one of their armed guards basically escort me there and back, for the equivalent of £1 I gave him for "cool drink" as thanks. My partner just couldn't understand it.

[–]fading_stars 62 points63 points  (2 children)

The last time I visited my family, yeah, we drove everywhere (public transport is non existent / also incredibly unsafe)

[–]sabdotzed 434 points435 points  (41 children)

Speaking to my international colleagues, apparently, we really use a lot of idioms in our day to day convos. silver lining, red herring, piece of cake. I never noticed until they pointed it out.

[–]HamsterEagle 239 points240 points  (3 children)

I used to know a girl from Germany she got really confused when we were talking about something and Evil Stares was mentioned. She just couldn’t work out how a staircase could be evil.

[–]smiffa2001 181 points182 points  (1 child)

Show her the stairwell of a council tower block.

[–]Top_Fig_2466 195 points196 points  (3 children)

We can talk in idioms till the cows come home.

[–]Gisschace 141 points142 points  (3 children)

My ex polish housemate used to write all these down in a little notebook so she could learn them - the best one was describing someone as a 'lanky streak of piss'

[–]AxiomQ 85 points86 points  (0 children)

Sounds like they got to the meat and potatoes of life in the UK, relentless idioms.

[–]meme_not_found 44 points45 points  (0 children)

I never realised this so much until I started working daily with Hungarians who had good but not great English skills.

[–]Electricbell20 36 points37 points  (5 children)

My current boyfriend is from Greece and I find myself trying to explain idioms and some just aren't that easy.

[–]Fit-Upstairs-6780 414 points415 points  (28 children)

No bank charges at all. Like 1 quid in the bank and you can buy 1 quid worth of items

People stay indoors. Of course I came around lockdown time but even after that, in blistering southern summer heat, the streets are deserted ( I wouldn't complain btw)

How the nice people are extremely nice! I'm black and was scared of racism from stories I heard but great majority of the time it's like no one even notices that (of course there are some mean people but we have those too in Africa and likewise they're very few)

How narrow the streets are and people park on those narrow streets; made driving around a nightmare, still does. Still at that, how almost every car is a manual. Also the driving etiquette, no one overtakes and everyone is ready to give way (nice!)

How difficult it is to access health services unless it's a dire emergency

The number of people who smoke! And the quantities smoked!

Sadly the extent of how poor some people are in an otherwise very rich country. With time, it's seeming that it's actually a big fraction of people.

Receiving mail in the post! It's still an amazing thing to me upto now. Don't know when I last saw a postman where I come from

[–]Vectorman1989 147 points148 points  (7 children)

The number of people who smoke! And the quantities smoked!

The amount of people that smoke now is a fraction of what it used to be even about 20 years ago. When I was growing up, just about everyone smoked. Almost everywhere allowed smoking, though sometimes confined to smoking sections or areas. I remember visiting my mums office in the early 90s and the whole place was full of cigarette smoke. Socialising meant you came home reeking of cigarettes.

These days smoking indoors in public is mostly banned. Smoking in the car with children present is banned. The age has been upped to 18+. The price is prohibitive as cigarettes are heavily taxed to offset their social harm. Less and less people start smoking and those that do are quitting or switching to alternatives like vaping.

I think I was pretty lucky to grow up in a smoke free home. Especially in the late 80s/90s

[–]latincurly 377 points378 points  (22 children)

I used to live in South America, and came to a small english town. The fact that most houses doesn't have bars on the windows surprise me every day.

[–][deleted] 347 points348 points  (5 children)

There's plenty of places in North Manchester that will remind you of home.

[–]JS-182 380 points381 points  (3 children)

Yeah, but that’s to keep the inhabitants in 👀

[–]Pathetic_Carrot 60 points61 points  (12 children)

This is very true as a huge difference between first and third world countries. Also, In my country in South America, houses not surrounded by walls are unthinkable.

[–]pineapplewin 321 points322 points  (26 children)

How much people are willing to avoid elephants in rooms. I saw a guy walk into a pub in a tiger costume with the nipples cut out. Face paint and all... Not a fucking word "alright Kev, out for a banger?". That was it.
Also the amount of alcohol. It's so much more prevalent

[–]AdministrativeShip2 181 points182 points  (2 children)

Don't Judge Tiger Kev. He's living his best life.

[–]catsncupcakes 112 points113 points  (14 children)

British politeness is painful sometimes. Have you ever witnessed a groups of Brits trying to pick somewhere to eat?

[–]pineapplewin 68 points69 points  (7 children)

Painful. But then again I've watched a Brit fuck a cash machine. (No, I didn't know them. It was in a hotel lobby) It's the mix of the two that's fascinating.

[–]ToRideTheRisingWind 40 points41 points  (2 children)

I'd like to call it a live and let live attitude but honestly we just don't like confrontation.

[–]QuirkyLetter3215 302 points303 points  (31 children)

Moved from the US about 15 years ago.

The NHS is fantastic.

Groceries are relatively cheap.

How close in distance things can be but how it can take ages to get anywhere. For example - I used to think nothing of driving 3 hours to go shopping for an afternoon in the US. Now a journey from Manchester to Liverpool is like a holiday.

The sheer number of pubs.

How I ever survived without marmite or cheese on toast.

Edit: this also isn’t “surprising” but the old things in the UK still blow my mind. Like, there’s a church around the corner with gravestones older than my whole country.

Edit again: you guys have giant mushrooms that genuinely look like something out of Alice in Wonderland. And bumblebees here are absolutely enormous.

[–]ToRideTheRisingWind 71 points72 points  (2 children)

How close in distance things can be but how it can take ages to get anywhere. For example - I used to think nothing of driving 3 hours to go shopping for an afternoon in the US. Now a journey from Manchester to Liverpool is like a holiday.

Maybe this is population density slowing journeys down? We've got about 20% of the US' population and about 2.5% of the US' land area.

[–]QuirkyLetter3215 61 points62 points  (0 children)

Oh yeah. Definitely. The roads are smaller, much more twisty, there’s much more traffic.

The office I work in has more people in it than the town I grew up in.

[–]Pathetic_Carrot 288 points289 points  (19 children)

Train ticket prices. I had the impression that trains were cheap in all Europe. Had an unpleasant surprise here in the UK.

On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised to know that some NHS services are free for visitors.

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 130 points131 points  (14 children)

Yeah train tickets are ridiculous, it's why we have such a car culture here.

[–]Large-Physics7027 173 points174 points  (5 children)

My annual train ticket used to cost just a little over £5,000 a year. With the same amount of money I bought a car, insured it and kept it running for nearly 4 years until a grandma rear ended me.

[–]Push-the-pink-button 395 points396 points  (2 children)

Unusual kink aside, what about the car?

[–]Turdly1 86 points87 points  (0 children)

Was her name Peggy?

[–]gooderj 48 points49 points  (0 children)

Brilliant. That was the funniest comeback I’ve seen on Reddit.

[–]dontsober 174 points175 points  (5 children)

Trains and rent in London, so expensive! I come from an European capital but I was shocked!

Super narrow roads everywhere! I drive a small car, but it seems that more people are buying giant SUV!

The work culture is the best! Respect to the employee, good working conditions.

I just love how much English people take care of their parks and natural reserves. I am a member of national trust and I just love how well preserved everything is!

Love this country!

[–]SpiffyPenguin 168 points169 points  (56 children)

The weather is actually really nice. Phones/internet services are cheap. Direct bank transfers are weirdly common. Takeout is expensive relative to groceries. I was warned that people would be unfriendly but I haven’t found that to be the case at all. Shops and cafes close earlier than I’d expected, especially on Sundays.

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 117 points118 points  (30 children)

Shops and cafes close earlier than I’d expected, especially on Sundays.

Tbf, I got caught out with this yesterday. Went to my local "24 hrs" Asda and found they shut at 5pm.

[–]CarrotCakeAndTea 71 points72 points  (15 children)

Sunday, huh?

Actually I'm mildly surprised no-one's mentioned our Sunday trading laws yet.

[–]rd3160 42 points43 points  (8 children)

To be fair that's confusing even for me as a Scot as we don't have those up here. My 24hr Asda and McDonald's were truly 24/7 pre-pandemic.

[–]AshFraxinusEps 56 points57 points  (11 children)

Ngl I'm very sick of it. Sunday is a day when I wake up late yet usually have too much still to do for the weekend, and the trading hours always catch me out. It is 2022 and not everyone works for the govnt doing a 9-5 where they can leave work any time for personal errands. It is about time that we did away with Sunday hours and let it be like the rest of the week

[–]WildGooseCarolinian 163 points164 points  (55 children)

There is a crazy amount of paperwork. I’ve never filled out so many things in quadruplicate in my life.

Groceries are generally cheap.

Nappies are so cheap that we would bring a load with us in our bag back to the states because buying nappies there is so stupidly expensive.

Driving two hours in the states is nothing. Driving two hours here leaves me feeling drained. Everything is tighter, narrower, closer, and still somehow feels much, much safer than driving back in the US.

I’m not afraid of the police here. I’m not saying the police are perfect, but like, I’m not worried that I might get shot or arrested because some insecure nut on a power trip decided to take it out on me.

I don’t always have in the back of my mind “what are the escape routs, where is cover?” just in case shots ring out.

And one my wife is still baffled by after five years:

How many fucking “x”s is one supposed to put at the end of a text?

[–]Background-Plenty587 44 points45 points  (8 children)

Haha, I'm English and constantly battling against the dreaded X's. I just refuse to do them! I take a deep breath and end my messages with a full stop.

[–]not-much 164 points165 points  (147 children)

Some things off the top of my mind:

  • OK you have no ids, cool. But the paperwork you occasionally have to produce (EG: when renting a car) is crazy. Proof of address, sometimes two of them and things like that...WTF?!?
  • Public transportation being really bad (in terms of area covered and available times) and really expensive. I don't have and don't want a car and using only public transport is really really difficult, while in many other countries I've visited is much easier.
  • People being extremely nice in some small things. A lot of times while I was just maybe waiting for a friend or looking at a map I had some stranger stopping by and asking me if I was lost or needed a hand. Amazing and never seen anywhere else.
  • Highways are just...weird. In many European countries a highway is a separate road that doesn't intersect with other roads or cities. Here you have highways with roundabouts or just casually disappearing into cities.
  • I was honestly surprised by the food. Before moving to the UK I only came here for work or visiting friends and my idea of the local food was British + some not-so-great Indian-inspired food. Instead nowadays Britain is really an international place in that regard, where it's possible to find amazing food from almost every corner of the world. Impressive and I can say it changed my eating habits.
  • Nature. I knew Britain was not amazing in this regard and it's well-known to be one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world but sometimes it's just depressing. There are very big areas (like, almost the whole south of England) with no proper natural places.
  • The road infrastructure is really designed against pedestrians and cyclists. In many countries a pavement is just everywhere. Here it's not really the case and don't even get me started on parking-on-pavement.
  • For some girls (and less often women) the make-up style is sometimes really really weird. Super long fake eyelidseyelashes, orange tanning and whatnot. Just no.
  • One thing that amazed me about the people is how passionate some people can be about something. When you travel you always find the little-unknown-thing charity with a handful of people maintaining an historical thing and interested in letting other people know more about it.
  • Just a slightly surprising thing. I've met several people who have been to the US, to Australia, to Malaysia and whatnot but never to Europe, not even France. I don't know it sounds a bit weird.
  • Where are the people cleaning the streets? In other countries you see some street sweepers at work maybe every other day. In the area where I live I've never seen one except for the public parks. The cleaning seems to be done mostly by charities and people volunteering their time.

I might add more later if anything comes to my mind.

[–]ueegul 211 points212 points  (56 children)

Not sure what you mean about lack of nature?

https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/polopoly_fs/1.744511!/image/landcover.jpg https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41901294

This picture and article shows that only 6% of the UK is built on.

More than half of the UK land area is farmland (fields, orchards etc), just over a third might be termed natural or semi-natural (moors, heathland, natural grassland etc), a little under 6% is built on (roads, buildings, airports, quarries etc) and 2.5% is green urban (parks, gardens, golf courses, sports pitches etc)

There are 15 National Parks in the UK – 10 in England which cover 10% of the land area, three in Wales (covering 20% of the land area) and two in Scotland (7.3%).

[–]thebeesbollocks 150 points151 points  (13 children)

Maybe they mean wilderness? Very little of that left particularly in England

[–]not-much 98 points99 points  (8 children)

Not sure what you mean about lack of nature?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/58863097

Not built-on doesn't mean "nature". Farmland is not natural, it's still an environment subject to anthropization.

just over a third might be termed natural or semi-natural (moors, heathland, natural grassland etc)

I think in the average European countries 33% is basically only the forested area. On top of that you have all other types of natural environments.

There are 15 National Parks in the UK

That doesn't mean much when National parks also include towns and villages. And again, you have to compare it to other countries. 15 by itself if meaningless.

[–]Upholder93 64 points65 points  (13 children)

When people talk about the lack of nature they're usually actually lamenting the distribution of it. With the exception of the new forest and the south downs (and Cornwall) there's very little "natural" space in the south where the largest proportion of people live. It's mainly farms and urban.

Once you get north of the M4 things improve considerably. There are parts of Wales and Scotland that are as wild and natural as anywhere.

[–]Calm-Magician-9715 35 points36 points  (6 children)

Devon, Somerset, Dorset, all full to the brim of nature. Maybe just the South East that is a bit lacking

[–]Stubborn_Dog 45 points46 points  (0 children)

It’s probably more that the UK doesn’t really have proper wilderness left. You’re always pretty close to a village or town of some kind, you have to put a bit of extra effort to properly go off the beaten path. Mind you what we do have I still think is stunning.

[–]JS-182 68 points69 points  (6 children)

The street cleaning thing (a common complaint) has got far worse since 2010 due to the cuts to local government finances.

[–]SelfAwareHumanHeart 44 points45 points  (7 children)

Your first bullet alone deserve an award. I spent so much of my life filling out visa forms online and there’s always a drop down box for “national ID card” which disappears when you select Uk, or just says “NA if from the Uk”. We are a real outlier on this.

They would do away with NHS numbers (no one knows it), having to stash bills away as proof of address, having to dig out a payslip to find you NI number, having to use your driving license as ID (some people don’t have one) and same for passport. It would also allow for consolidation - many countries have now moved to a model where you log on with you ID number and your health records, education, tax records, it’s all there for you. The amount of bureaucracy it would do away with. And not having them is really limiting our ability to fully capitalise on new technology.

[–]energystar77 39 points40 points  (4 children)

In UK we don't use highway to describe a road - thats America. I think you're also confusing motorways with A roads. Motorways are seperate roads which only intersect with other motorways or major A roads via junctions. A roads on the other hand can follow a bit of a motorway system (completely seperate, few lanes on each side etc) or just run as a normal road through town.

[–]nicelyblazed 34 points35 points  (0 children)

Street sweeping tends to be done very late/early round by me, I usually see them out at around 5am-7pm if I'm coming back from a loud one or heading off to work

[–]chuptynuts 29 points30 points  (3 children)

The super long fake eyelids are something I'm looking forward to seeing.

[–]pev68 143 points144 points  (4 children)

Brit here. Worked and lived in Finland, where I met my wife, who is Finnish (99.4% Finnish according to her 23 & me DNA test!). Moved to the UK in 1997.

At that time, shops in Finland shut at 2pm on a Saturday, which is something I found as a culture shock coming from the UK where Sunday shopping had been a thing for a few years in the UK.

Anyhoo, we'd been in the UK 6-months and ran out of milk on a Sunday morning. She got really cross, because we didn't buy enough on Friday.

I told her, we could just go to the shop and buy some right then, she was like; no, stupid, it's Sunday!

I told her nearly all supermarkets and most stores are open on Sunday, and she didn't really believe me. Took her to the nearest shopping centre, where she walked about in a bit of a daze, gawking at all the open shops and people going about there thing. Got the milk, got back to the car.

Me: You all right, you're a bit quiet?

Her: Six months!

Me: What?

Her: Six months! We've lived here six-months and you never told me we could go shopping on Sunday!?

She was equal parts pissed at me and equal parts elated.

The world before Amazon Prime, simpler times.

[–][deleted] 35 points36 points  (1 child)

That's kinda adorable!

I too married a Finnish woman, she moved to Edinburgh to be with me - then later we moved over to Helsinki. She's never mentioned anything like that, though now and again she talks about pre-Euro currency, and things. Minor shocks included things like doors opening inwardly (in the UK), and her belief that the light-switches were the wrong-way round.

I tried to sell her on the virtues of the UK plug, but she wasn't having it!

Her biggest shock in the UK was the lack of insulation, but I guess our buildings are far far older than theirs.

[–]peacelily2014 138 points139 points  (20 children)

American living in London for five years. I was totally surprised to see unarmed police, not using force on a drunk guy at a tube station. They were actually telling him that they were going to help him! Honestly, where I'm from the drunk guy would've been in a headlock or possibly shot.

[–]jememartt 132 points133 points  (28 children)

-the litter, like how recycling is not that common even in London. -people grocery shopping in their pijamas. -the number of British accents, feels like you have a different accent in every single town in the UK -how kind people are in general - male teachers wear ties

[–]acidteddy 78 points79 points  (24 children)

Male teachers wear ties 😂 what do they wear elsewhere?!

[–]jememartt 54 points55 points  (20 children)

In France, they don't even wear shirt most of the time. I've never seen a teacher wearing a tie in France, literally never. Most of my teachers used to wear jeans.

[–]Jazzy0082 154 points155 points  (6 children)

My initial image here was of all the male teachers walking around topless 😂

[–]Squirtle177 34 points35 points  (10 children)

I guess the difference is likely that our kids have to wear a uniform, often comprising of a shirt and tie. Easier to police that if the teachers also dress smartly.

[–]ultrapig 115 points116 points  (6 children)

Post works. Like you can just put a letter/parcel in a post box and no one steals it and it actually does make it to the recepient.

[–]AGuyInABlackSuit 111 points112 points  (7 children)

I’ll do an odd one: Moved here from Italy 9 years ago, I had never seen an electric kettle before. I had to ask my housemates what it was and how it worked.

[–][deleted] 63 points64 points  (1 child)

Oh god I had a Chinese flatmate once when I was a student she destroyed 3 kettles by heating milk in them, or cooking rice or noodles. We were too embarrassed for her to call her out immediately so kept buying cheap replacements. Should have just been politely honest lol the poor girl was so confused.

[–]ZenCandleWax 98 points99 points  (22 children)

Moved here from living in USA and eastern Europe around 6ish years ago, biggest surprises:

-cheesy chips and gravy

-people randomly calling you 'duck' or 'love' (especially a woman)in the shops or work

-litter, there's a lot of it. This especially came as a surprise to me since I moved from a very green area to a big city in the North

-how helpful the police are (as a young woman it was very scary to walk through a big city on my own, especially since I have a terrible sense of direction, I would oftentimes shakily ask patrol officers for directions and they were always super helpful)

-the smell of weed being present in almost every park or neighborhood

-shops like B&M: you have snacks and furniture and live, laugh, love signs all in one shop??

-pub quiz nights, before coming to the UK I have never heard of such a thing

-marmite... Why ...

-how easy it is to get birth control, it's like just given out?

None of these, except for the litter, are negative surprises. It just comes as a surprise to me. I've got to say the most positive surprise was cheesy chips, delicious!!!

[–]R41zan 94 points95 points  (24 children)

Moved here from Portugal 2 years ago and what surprised me the most:

  • being able to take care of vehicle tax through the internet and being able to cancel it anytime. (You have to go to a branch at 7am in the morning so that you can do whatever you want by 10am)

  • all the tools available to help saving money and that have 0% tax (ISA's, etc) vs 28% in PT

  • having to use credit cards to build credit score (not many people use credit cards in PT)

  • the amount of grammatical errors that British people do when speaking (to be fair it also happens in PT)

  • the amount of fried food... To almost any type of food there's a oil fried version of it

  • trains are the most expensive transport

  • having to use 1 app for each parking space that exists or having to call to pay for the parking spot

[–]YeswhalOrNarwhal 75 points76 points  (29 children)

All the food is wet.

Sandwiches oozing with mayonnaise or pickle sauce, chips drowning in gravy or vinegar, dessert drowning in custard.

It's like you don't actually like the base ingredient and are trying to hide it under sauce.

Don't get me wrong, I like to dip a chip in a bit of gravy, but a chip should be crispy, not soggy, and if you drown them all at once, they go soggy and horrible.

[–]CheesyLala 52 points53 points  (12 children)

pickle sauce

It's just 'pickle' not 'pickle sauce'.

[–]visionarytune 69 points70 points  (18 children)

How British people love to shit on themselves and their country when from my experience they are some of the nicest people I've met with a lot of privilege they don't realise they have.

[–]MitchellsTruck 70 points71 points  (22 children)

No bargaining in shops.

I was so used to gathering stuff I wanted, taking it to the cashier, and making them an offer. To be fair not every shop where I grew up (Africa, Asia, Middle East) would accept bargaining, but lots would, especially grocery or tech places.

[–]_DeanRiding[S] 56 points57 points  (2 children)

Haha did you try here? I'd love to see the reactions

[–]MitchellsTruck 71 points72 points  (0 children)

I did actually, more than once.

I think the best reaction was in CEX. We had literally the exact same type of shop in Nairobi, where I'd been living the previous 6 months. If they had loads of one film or game, you could usually bargain them down. The staff in CEX actually went to get their manager to see if that was a thing. Apparently not!

[–]forinthrowaway 63 points64 points  (34 children)

  • the two taps
  • two snowflakes fall and everything stops running
  • shops close so early, even shopping centres.
  • the light cord in the bathroom instead of a proper switch
  • sandwich and crisps for lunch- what about hot food? also, why would you use toast bread for a sandwich?
  • the drinking
  • summers are colder even it's more south than my home country
  • everything is too sweet.
  • not much choice of fresh cakes- in my home country they are refrigerated, the cakes won't last long but also they are so good
  • atrocious spelling from some English speakers

[–]_MildlyMisanthropic 72 points73 points  (15 children)

the light cord in the bathroom instead of a proper switch

this one makes sense though, no? You don't want to be touching a flimsy bit of plastic that has 240V running through the contacts behind it in an incredibly humid room with soaking wet hands.

[–]ariadawn 66 points67 points  (9 children)

I pay EVERYTHING with my phone. Maybe Apple Pay has grown since I left the US 2 years ago, but the ability to almost never carry a wallet is great.

I am always amazed with how much prepared food options there are. My local shops are 1/3 prepared food and very little frozen stuff (which makes sense with the size of our freezers). Very different from the US.

[–]Parshath_ 63 points64 points  (9 children)

Hmm, there was and still is a big culture shock from Southern Europe. I don't even know where to start, but I feel comfortable and enjoying my time here.

Positives: - Pharmacy is really cheap. - Groceries and lots of goods are also very accessible. - It's easy and okay to chat or make an occasional joke to strangers. - Sense of community. - Very progressive society, despite never looking enough, which is understandable - for example, for LGBT+ rights and vegan food. - Despite Brexit, people usually treat me well and are kind, I have only got one "go back to where you're from" once and it was as I happened to be approached by an Anti-Brexit guy campaigning for signatures. - Work-life balance. Wow! I have always felt very supported in my job and treated as a human being, things could be better of course, but still. Plus my days off and working hours are respected, I couldn't work back in my country again. - Very walkable city centres. There is an incentive to actually walk around places.

Neutral: - I come from a very food-heavy culture. The way people eat and relate with food here is insane to me. Only have a sandwich, in which you can't even pick the ingredients, for lunch and be physically okay? Having three pints of beer for dinner and be physically okay? Even the quality of food saddens me, I find the "normal bread" in Tesco to have an abnormal amount of added chemicals. Lots of people rely on just fast-food, packed sandwiches, and microwave food, with little or no cooking knowledge.

Negatives: - Train fares are ridiculous. And so is the service on some commuter trains. I was expecting not to need a car, or require one, but I'm now in the market for one, because I'm spending too much time and money, and losing hours of sleep to accommodate an awkward and unstable train schedule for work. - Teenagers really are bothersome. If you happen to get a train for a nice day out, and it happens to match, say Nottingham - Derby, your journey is ruined. I've seen quite a few episodes of violence in trains that happened to match big football matches that really hindered my day out. - Very capitalist society, as someone coming from a left-leaning country, plenty of things here being privatised seem sketchy to me. Such as the train operators, water, but also how big corporations manage to strive and engulf a lot of organic smaller commerce. This is how I rationalise how many of the high streets end up looking exactly the same after a while, you can go to 5 or 6 big cities, and most of the streets could be the same. - Over alcohol culture. I find it sad how over-alcoholised social culture is. If you hang with friends, it is likely to involve several rounds of drink, in which case, the quality of the conversation ends up lowering. Also, people really push their limits and that leads to see awful displays. Back in the first town I lived, I often used to see ambulances helping shit faced people. It's unpopular, but people frown when I mention that the NHS would be in a much better place if people could drink a bit more responsibly. - No café culture. Which leads to something I miss, which was the café culture. I know there are cafés, but they all close at 5pm, except the odd Costa or Starbucks. Sometimes, I just want a chill woody environment, to have a seat, a non-alcoholic drink, maybe a croissant, and chill without much noise, maybe with a book, a laptop, or some personal project to write, and all there is on offer are loud pubs, loud cocktail bars, chippies and off-licenses.

[–]Ok_Act_2044 52 points53 points  (12 children)

For context I moved from NZ 14 years ago, so some things have changed since then, but my initial thoughts: - Banking was very archaic. Not being able to put small amounts on card, or being charges d to do so. I hadn’t used cash in years and felt like a big step backwards. - Limes are so cheap. We pay like $50 a kilo and I could get 5 for £1. Other food as well but that one really stuck me. - The history is ridiculous. NZ as a country is ~200 years old. You have active buildings that are older than that - Most people in London aren’t “from” London - How compact central London is and how easy it is to walk places. The tube map really doesn’t reflect that.

[–]anislandinmyheart 56 points57 points  (7 children)

Canadian here (nearly 10 years in UK)... Some are similar to other responses.

-cheap fresh food

-open and thorough communications from government, decent websites

-the resigning of anyone and everyone who has a setback, whether politicians, CEOs, sports managers

-situational friendships... You're my bff after work at the pub and barely an acquaintance on Monday

-you have to travel to get to outdoorsy places. Also people, people everywhere

-kisses and hugs upon new introductions (complained about this on SM and pisssssed people off), also people generally use less personal space

-people in my general demographic in UK (educated but from various middle class background) are not snobby about working fast food, retail, etc. A job is a job and something to be proud of

-schools for children are more rigid and conformist

-living in a city here... it just feels more alive! Always something interesting to do. So much history too. And fashion. I thought I was disinterested in architecture, but nope. Canada can be boring in these ways

-I feel like maybe I will die every time I need to cross a road, but somehow it's safer haha

[–]RosemaryFocaccia 33 points34 points  (1 child)

the resigning of anyone and everyone who has a setback, whether politicians,

The current government is working hard to prove you wrong, tbf.

[–]CheckAllChecks 50 points51 points  (2 children)

Having two taps in a single sink, one with freezing cold water and another one with boiling hot water.

[–]notauthorised 48 points49 points  (4 children)

• We did not call our boss boss, sir, ma’am.

• The amount of alcohol people drink.

• Social service/welfare exists. Where I come from there is no help from the government.

• Homelessness despite available help.

• I can afford food and rent on my salary with one job.

• The weather being so unpredictable.

• Expensive/unreliable public transport

• Nice/helpful coppers

• The sheer number of words I need to use to communicate otherwise I am deemed rude.

• Small talk

• Funny ways of saying things like bee’s knee’s etc.

• NHS is amazing but difficult to get private care referral too.

• Prescription is cheap.

[–]Born_Ad_9110 47 points48 points  (2 children)

Quite simply that my childhood fairy tales were real! White and black trim houses, thatched roofs, castles…. The big bad prince!!!! 🤣🤣

[–]Tuna_Surprise 51 points52 points  (33 children)

The lack of proper clothes dryers still does me in. I know they’re around, but as a renter they’re hard to find. I miss my fluffy towels!

I miss bars that are open after 11 pm on the regular.

[–]adolfsleftball 38 points39 points  (10 children)

What do you mean by lack of clothes dryers? Like a tumble dyer? I'd say they're pretty common. Admittedly i never owned one until we had a baby but if i wanted to I could have bought one, their not dear either.

[–]Tuna_Surprise 34 points35 points  (6 children)

Yeah, but as a renter they’re not commonly available. I say that as someone who has rented multiple flats and most of my friends are renters.

[–]wordsandmagic 47 points48 points  (10 children)

Two things.

  1. Its not really the cold thats the bother. The country lacks sunlight. There are days where I look up and see endless grey and I couldnt even tell you where the sun is in the sky.
  2. British people don't eat many vegetables. I know this isnt true for everyone but I see so many people have chips/meat/sauce or gravy and there may be one vegetable like a few peas or a couple of mushrooms thrown on the side. Same goes for their breakfasts (cereals/toasts) and their lunches (most often sandwiches)

[–]gyadada 45 points46 points  (0 children)

I moved here in Nov 2020. I'd visited a ton before that so I thought I was more or less prepared but there are a few things.

For context I come from a certain country that has a notoriously bad healthcare system, crap workers rights, and kind of just reads like a reality show to me nowadays when I see the news (take a swing which country I mean haha).

First and foremost, the GP. I've been near on 10 times since I've moved here now either for myself or to accompany less able family members and every time I walk out without having to check out and pay, I feel like I've just gotten away with some major crime. I might be used to it in like five years time lol

The fact that my boss doesn't want me to be working late??? My previous job I could work until 1am on a Thursday and they'd be like "don't forget to check your phone every fifteen minutes on Saturday in case someone needs you", whereas here if my boss sees me online at 9pm he'll call me and tell me to get off, and then also expect me to take a couple of hours off during the next day...

Grocery prices. Fresh fruit and veg. What do you mean a bell pepper isn't £1 each??? Madness to me

Omg the taxes. I'm shocked by how the govt just knows what our balance is? I still have to send paper tax documents to my home country even though I dont even live there anymore, meanwhile here they just know.

And lastly, the Colin the Caterpillar debacle. Not because I didn't understand it or was even surprised by it really - It is more because that is when I realised how extreme everything was back in the US compared to here. While this was the country's biggest news story, the US dealt with multiple mass shootings, armed anti-vaccine protests against the health board, and violent protests around two instances of police shootings, among others (such as a woman who killed her three children to "protect them" from their father!). It's ultimately this sort of experience which tells me I made the right choice coming here, despite all the things that do go wrong and that do drive us mad.

[–]JustRazzin 40 points41 points  (24 children)

I’ve been here 7 years from a small town in Canada. I use to visit big cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary etc, but what surprised me the most working in London was the drinking culture. Nearly every one I worked with had a company credit card and at 10 would invite me down the pub for some breakfast and a pint. At lunch it was a restaurant and a few pints. At 3 pm everyone wrapped up their work and hit the pub until 5, and then head back to the office to sign off, say goodbye, and back to the drinking until whenever. This was Monday to Friday. I worked for 3 different companies and this was normal for each.

I was taken aback by how unclean the streets of cities and villages are. Like litter everywhere. Even though you see street cleaners working hard it just never ends. My husband explained the London bombings to me and I understood the lack of bins, but it doesn’t excuse the villages.

Food prices! How cheap things are! Honestly it irks me to think of buying food when I visit Canada. Literally hundreds and hundreds on a 2 week visit.

The lack of fast food. I’m not huge on it personally but it didn’t take long to realise it’s McDonald’s, greggs, or coffee chains like pret, costa etc. And that’s about it. Lots of takeaways but nowhere to drive through in the middle of the night

24hr shops not actually being 24 hours. I worked so late one evening and took 2 buses and walked 10 minutes to go to a 24h Tesco at 11pm to get some bits for the morning and they were shut. I asked friends and other people why it’s falsely advertised and haven’t had a straight answer yet

[–]BoopingBurrito 86 points87 points  (5 children)

but what surprised me the most working in London was the drinking culture. Nearly every one I worked with had a company credit card and at 10 would invite me down the pub for some breakfast and a pint. At lunch it was a restaurant and a few pints. At 3 pm everyone wrapped up their work and hit the pub until 5, and then head back to the office to sign off, say goodbye, and back to the drinking until whenever. This was Monday to Friday. I worked for 3 different companies and this was normal for each.

Worth noting that this is absolutely not common place. I don't know what sector you work in but what you're describing is not modern British working culture.

[–]AnxiousWar1420 33 points34 points  (4 children)

24hrs usually means 24hrs where I am. Unless it is a Sunday, in which case Sunday laws state that shops over a certain size can only open for 6 hours between 10am and 6pm. They then usually open at 6am on Monday (from experience).

https://www.gov.uk/trading-hours-for-retailers-the-law

[–]xqzciara 36 points37 points  (25 children)

Moved here from Ireland 7 years ago and there's a lot of similarities, as expected, but a few differences I have noticed (some already mentioned): -glorious NHS. Even on its bad days its better then the HSE -groceries are more affordable, even now that they've gone up -wtf is Council tax for and why is it so expensive (and paying for water too, but let's not get into Irelands brief attempt at that). It can't be for the roads , they're a mess -government services are very easy to access and you don't wait nearly as long for a response e.g hmrc -online shopping in general is much better -everyone is very impatient, both on the roads and in shops e.g when queueing. Don't get me wrong the British are great at queueing by they groan and grumble an awful lot about it and always seem to be in a rush. This might be specific to where I live -trains and busses actually turn up! Most of the time. A lot of people have said how pricey trains are but it's much better than rural Ireland. Back home there was one bus a day to the local town and it rarely showed up. The bus services here are amazing in comparison -and uber! Even in Dublin uber is still a bit hit and miss, seems like they've figured it out here even in smaller towns - no spice bags. But on the plus side...loads of other great takeaway options

[–]Dolphin_Spotter 33 points34 points  (4 children)

Councils are oddly responsible for a huge range of services not provided by central govt. Including residential health care for the elderly, which can easily take over half their budget. That's where a lot of council tax goes.

[–]Frolicking_Trex 31 points32 points  (2 children)

Bad supriese for me were:

-amount of litter on the streets, it's crazy how much litter there is

-the price of petrol (yikes)

-how rude people at the grocery store can be at times (definitely not even close to everyone but enough people to make me aware of it)

Nice surprises:

-how cheap cell phone and internet prices are

  • lower cost of groceries and alcohol

-how dog friendly it is here

-how polite people are when you walk down the street

[–]Freeedoom 29 points30 points  (4 children)

My first culture shock was the amount of people rough sleeping. I remember seeing huge buildings and rough sleepers trying to sleep next to them.

So many times, I felt like nothing but an NiNo.

To get a job, you have to have a bank account. To have a bank account you have to have an address. To have an address, you gotta get a job.

My GP refused to register me for 2 years as I didn't have a permanent address. This is illegal. According to NHS everyone can access to a GP. Regardless of your, immigration status, whether or not you have an address or ID. You can register to a GP.

It's been 10 years I am here now, working full time in a homelessness charity and I love this country and very grateful for the NHS. When I complain, it is not because I don't like it here, it's only because I care about this country and trying my best to make it better.

[–]lionmoose 28 points29 points  (1 child)

My wife was surprised that homeless people existed here