Coming to the UK as an international student can be challenging, but also a lot of fun. However, as with any foreign country there are certain things that will surely differ from your home country, no matter where you're coming from. Here's a short list of some of the things that surprised me when I first arrived.
Greetings: It is quite common to hear people say “Alright?” as a greeting instead of saying “Hello” or “How are you?”. However, in this case, unless you know the speaker well, people do not really expect an answer. So you can just respond with “alright?” yourself and move on.
Prices: In my humble opinion, the prices here are all over the place. Tim Hortons breakfast meal? £3. Medium Domino's pizza? £20. A train ticket to Liverpool? £5. A train ticket to London? £70. A flight ticket to Paris? £10.
Food: I'm so sorry to all my British readers - but as much as I love the full English, the food here is really …. ehmm … Well, let's just say you will most likely miss your mom's food at some point during your university degree. Luckily, Manchester as a city has one of the most exciting culinary scenes where you can find food from anywhere in the world (though, don't even bother looking for a Czech place).
English: So you've watched the latest season of Bridgeton and Peaky Blinders and think you're ready to conquer the English language. Right? Wrong. :) The Mancunian accent is quite different and a little bit more challenging than what you hear on TV. You will definitely get used to it after some time, but I definitely spent my first few months with “I have no clue what they just said” as my most used phrase.
In addition to that, there are a few slang words that might catch you off guard.
- “Cheers” - you might be familiar with this as an expression before drinking, but not quite. Here, cheers can be substituted for “thank you” and you will most probably hear it on buses, in shops or anywhere else.
- “Tea” - You might be thinking black tea, green tea, ginger tea … yeah, not only that, but British people use “tea” to refer to their “dinner”.
- Quid, Fiver, Tenner: Slang expressions for money meaning “pound”, “5 pounds” and “10 pounds” respectively.
People: This one depends on what country you are coming from, however, Brits are super friendly, respectful and polite. Everyone always smiles at you, and would be willing to help with anything. The most surprising thing that I discovered though is that British people love to apologise for the littlest things.