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5 Things That I Don't Understand About English Culture


Even after months abroad, Hannah is still thrown off by some key differences.

I have been in England for just over three months now and while I still have a long time to go on my exchange, I feel right at home with English culture.

However, there are a few nuances of English life which just doesn’t quite make sense to me:

1. The Greeting

Apparently the “go-to” phrase for greeting someone in Norwich is “You alright?” The first time someone said that to me, I replied with a confused look, “Yeah, of course I’m okay!” I thought I must of looked upset or worried for someone to ask me that. So for future reference when someone asks if you’re alright—which they do on a daily basis—it’s not you, it’s just what they say.

2. The Currency

What in the world is the purpose of a 1p coin? In the age of credit cards and pay wave, hardly anyone pays in cash these days. In my home currency of the New Zealand dollar, the lowest denomination we have is 10 cents. However, the English still insist on continuing the 1p coin. It fills up my wallet; it piles on my desk, all these little 1p coins that add up to nothing. You can’t even buy anything for 1p, so seriously what is the point?

3. The Price of Pizza

In New Zealand, it was a Friday night ritual to go and pick up a large pizza from Pizza Hut for $5. Yeah, it was cheap and nasty. But who can say no to fried cheese and dough for the measly price of $5? Apparently England can, as the price of pizza in this country is ridiculous. A large pizza will set you back about £6-£8, which is about $12-$16 NZ dollars!

4. The Slang

I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but in New Zealand we use the phrase, “at the moment.” England likes to switch it up a bit and instead uses the term “at the minute.” Nothing major, but every now and then it catches me off guard and reminds me that I’m actually in England right now.

5. The Orange Juice

Again, not sure if it’s just NZ but at home you can buy your orange juice “with pulp” or “without pulp.” In any UK supermarket you will not find the term “pulp” anywhere on an orange juice carton. Instead, they use the term “juicy bits.” You can only buy your orange juice with or without “juicy bits.” What are juicy bits? Who knows! The pulp is the least “juiciest” thing about the juice!

So although there are a few things about British culture I find backwards, I have also adopted a few of their traditions. I drink a cup of tea at least twice a day, I now call pants “trousers” and can successfully down a pint at the pub!

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Hannah Pym

Hannah Pym is an student in Norwich, England on exchange from the University of Auckland. Born in New Zealand, Hannah spent her teenage years in Australia. She is completing her undergraduate degree in English and History.

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