What to Know Before You Go to England
I spent a semester in England in the spring of 2017, and I must say I was very impressed with the beautiful history and culture there. I was expecting it to be very similar to America, but the longer I was there, the more wrong I realized I was. While some parallels can be drawn, England has its own identity and culture that differs from mine in many ways. This is a guide to some of the surprises you may have, as well as some tips for when you're traveling.
Differences Between England and America
1. English in England is not the same as it is in America. It's similar, but don't be surprised if you hear some new terminology including words and phrases such as "wanker," "bloody," and "taking the piss."
2. The English are very open and honest. They're far less sensitive than Americans and aren't afraid to speak their mind. If you find something that somebody said to be offensive, it likely wasn't intended to be that way.
3. Going along with number two, don't be afraid to start up a conversation with anyone at any time, and also don't be surprised when other people do the same with you. I found that in England, people were far open to conversations with strangers than they would be in America. They're far less likely to keep to themselves.
4. The drinking culture is far more extreme than it is in America. Many college students will party four nights a week and even older adults may do this on weekends. It's not uncommon for coworkers to go out for a pint or two each day after work. While this isn't very common in America, in England it is embraced and something you should accept when you go there.
5. There is much more diversity in England than in America. This is because anyone from a country that used to be an English colony is allowed automatic citizenship there if they wish. England also has very open borders and takes in large numbers of refugees and immigrants.
6. Americans are very loud and the English are not. Try to be aware of your speaking volume and don't have loud conversations out in public unless you want to bother everyone around you.
7. They drive on the left side of the road in England. Please don't rent a car unless you feel comfortable with that.
8. The train system in England is very advanced and efficient, far more so than in America. Trains are actually a much better method of transportation than cars anyways.
House of Minalima
1. Lets start off by talking about trains: trains are by and far the easiest and most reliable method of transportation in England. If you plan on using a train more than 3 or 4 times, I would strongly recommend buying a railcard. Not everyone qualifies, but if you do, you can save 30% on every single ticket you buy! You can also book trains very easily at trainline.com or download the trainline app.
2. London is an extremely expensive city, so I wouldn't recommend doing any shopping or drinking there unless you have lots of money to spare.
3. Though London is expensive, it does have numerous free museums! I went to the British Museum, V&A Museum, National Gallery, and Imperial War Museum in London all for free. Click here for some of the most popular ones.
4. You can see many different musicals, plays, and operas at a fairly low cost that are still of high quality.
Popular English Cities
The capital of England and the biggest city.
A less crowded and more modern version of London
The birthplace of Shakespeare.
The birthplace of the first railroad in England
Famous for The Beatles
Location of the Lincoln Cathedral
Modern city with several universities and nice shopping centers. Also home to the oldest pub in England
What city in England do you want to visit the most?
5. Try to avoid Piccadilly Square in London in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays if you don't like large crowds of people. I have never been somewhere so crowded in my entire life.
6. There's more to England than just London! Make sure you visit Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham, Lincoln, Liverpool, Manchester, Bath, and many more. England has incredible historical buildings and landmarks everywhere you turn. If you only visit London, you will be missing out on quite a bit.
7. I would recommend not bringing up Brexit unless you are genuinely interested in learning about it and other people's opinions on it. It gets tiresome very quickly to repeatedly answer the same question over and over again. With that being said, be prepared to get asked about Trump a lot when you're abroad. You'll learn very quickly just how tiresome it is.
8. London has many different districts including Shoreditch, Lewisham, and Greenwich. If you're looking for something else free to do, you can explore all the different districts London has to offer. Each area is unique.
Map of London Districts
9. The weather in England is very similar to what you would find in the pacific northwest of America. It rains a lot and it won't get hotter than about 70 degrees Fahrenheit typically. Bring an umbrella, rain jacket, and rain boots for your trip.
10. Pub food in England is the best food. If you're looking for a good meal, go to a pub. They're usually very inviting and friendly environments.
11. Visit as many cathedrals and historical sites as you can, despite the price. These were the best things that I spent my money on in England. Being able to walk on the same ground that Henry the VIII walked on or be among the tombs of famous composers is priceless.
The British Museum
After a full semester in England, it definitely wasn't what I expected it to be, but in a good way. The culture, people, and food were all phenomenal and there was so much to see and do, despite the small size of the country. I would recommend spending a couple days in each of the major cities to get a better feel of the culture and history that England has to offer. Every city is different and unique in it's own way.
Let me know if you have any thoughts questions regarding what I've said in the comments below!
© 2017 Lindsay Langstaff