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Moving to the UK – ten things I have learnt so far!

Hey everyone! For day 11 of #blogtober I’m sharing a guest post from the fabulous Claire. She’s here to talk about the things she has learnt about us English people and the UK since moving over from France.

It’s her first time guest posting on Better Together Home so please show her some love!

Hi! I am Claire from Claire Imaginarium. I was born and raised in France, and I moved to London back in 2011. Since then, I met (and married) a British man, adopted a British cat and bought a British house. Pretty settled, to say the least!

Even though I have been in the UK for a while, there are still things that amaze me about this country. France and the UK may be neighbours but the cultural differences are pretty significant. So without further ado, here are the 10 things I have learned about England and British people so far!

Everybody has an accent

The day I moved to London, I landed in Heathrow with three luggage, completely jet lagged (it’s a long story), and feeling equally lonely and excited. The only thing I was pretty confident about was my English, having lived in the US for a while. That was until I met my cab driver at the airport. He talked, I stared, he pointed at my luggage, I stared, he loaded them in the car, I sat in the cab, he talked again, and I suddenly wanted to just burst into tears. I understood NOTHING of what he said, absolutely nothing! I was completely overwhelmed. What was wrong with me? Was I too jet lagged to comprehend even basic English?

A few days later, I started my new job and, after being introduced to 20 different people, I realised one thing which never happened when I was living in the US – everybody had an accent! I naively thought most English people would talk like Hugh Grant in Four weddings and a funeral, but not at all! You have the Geordie accent, the Scouse accent, the Cockney accent, the North London accent, the South East London accent, etc.

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In France, we have some accents but they are quite localised and extend to an entire region, and nowadays most young French people have no accent at all. In England, there are new accents every 5 to 10 miles!

Football is a religion

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of French people love football, but a lot of them have also zero interest in football (me!). In England, it seems that every single person has a favourite team. Some are of course more passionate than others, but all have a favourite team.

What is even more entertaining is to see very polite and reserved British people turning into hooligans when watching a match. My husband gets so agitated he hits the sofa when he watches football. It got quite embarrassing when my flatmate at the time heard him swearing and hitting something and thought it was me he was punching! I am not joking the Brits get intense when looking at a black and white ball rolling on the grass!

People are obsessed with the weather

British people talk about the weather all. the. time!

Small talk with a stranger? Talk about the weather! Meeting the in-laws for the first time? Talk about the weather! Chatting with colleagues about your weekend plans? Refer to the weather!

At the beginning, I was seriously wondering what the obsession was all about, did people had nothing more interesting to chat about? And then I started to experience the British weather… Winter temperatures in summer, monsoon for 5 days, snow followed by sun, followed by hail, all in one day… The British weather is bipolar and completely insane! It changes so much, so fast, and makes absolutely no sense most of the time. No wonder people talk about it!

Business hours are better

Well… for most people at least. If you work in finance in London, forget about it, but for most of us working hours are better than in France.

Commonly if you work in Paris, you will arrive at work around 9/9:30am and leave around 7/7:30pm. In London, most of my friends start at 9am and finish at 5:30pm. Why such a big difference? Based on my experience I think it is a combination of work culture (it is how it is) and breaks. French people take long coffee and lunch breaks whereas English people tend to eat lunch at their desks.

I really like it, as it gives me plenty of time in the evening to go to the gym binge watch Netflix shows.

G&T is not a trend

Gin and Tonic has become a very popular drink in France over the past couple of years. It follows the steps of Aperol Spritz. In England, however, it has been around for ages and is the favourite drink of most generations of English women (British men usually go for beer).

Go out early, be home early

Friday drinks? Saturday night ‘out-out’? In France, you would meet people around 8 pm at the earliest, and if you are going ‘out-out’ you will end the night around 3 or 4 in the morning. In the UK, people meet straight after work around 6pm and usually everybody is home by 1am.

I’ve really got used to the English way! You start early but you still party for a good 6 hours and then you can still catch the last tube and have a full night of sleep!

Sunday roast is an English institution

I had never heard of Sunday roast before moving to England. It is never something mentioned in English class, neither in tourist’ guides, but it is an institution.

Now for the non-British readers, what is Sunday Roast? Eaten most Sundays (duh!), if not all Sundays, the meal is composed of some sort of roasted meat – commonly beef, chicken or lamb – served with roasted potatoes, vegetable and Yorkshire pudding. What is Yorkshire pudding? A sort of savoury ‘choux’ pastry is the best way I would describe it!

People eat it at the pub or cook it at home, and it is THE Sunday signature dish for most families.

Weddings are completely different

You would think European weddings would all be the same? Well, nope!

The concept is the same – white dress, big meal, nice ceremony, etc. But the structure of the day is completely different!

French Weddings

A French wedding will usually start around 3pm with the ceremony, followed by a 3-hour cocktail where canapes and drinks are served. After the cocktail, some guests will be invited to leave and the others will take a sit for dinner, which is served around 7:30/8pm. Speeches are given between each course, and include both dads, the witnesses (bridesmaids and best men), AND brothers and sisters! The celebration ends with dancing and stretches usually until 3 to 4 am. French weddings are also ALWAYS open bar, guest will never ever have to pay for a drink.

English Wedding

An English wedding will usually start around 1 pm with the ceremony, it will be followed by a short cocktail (usually one drink per person). After the drinks, people will sit for the ‘wedding breakfast’ around 3pm. Once people are finished with the 3 course meal, all the speeches are given at the same time and include the groom, the father of the bride and the best men. Finally, dancing starts around 7pm and this is when the additional guests join the party which finishes around midnight. You will also have to pay for drinks once the evening party starts, which made for another embarrassing story the first time I went to an English wedding and thought the barman was joking when asking me to pay…

 So different, right?!

Christmas is a (very) serious business

You thought you were going a bit over the top for Christmas? Trust me you will never be as into Christmas as British people! And that is coming from someone who grew up in Strasbourg aka ‘French Christmas wonderland’!

People take Christmas very seriously here in the UK! Most shops start Christmas promotions in September. There is a TV channel dedicated to Christmas broadcasting from the end of October. The street lights are turned on at the beginning of November, the first Christmas trees make their appearance in households mid-November, and your colleagues will be wearing Christmas jumpers in the office most of December…

I have only one advice if you move to the UK, don’t be the Grinch!

The UK NHS is completely free

Really guys, it is!

True story, the first time I went to the doctor, I queued at the front desk after my appointment with my credit card in hand, ready to pay. After a good 15 minutes waiting I finally was the first in the line: –

Me – “Hi, so I just had my appointment with DR XXXX, how much do I owe?”

Front desk lady – ***Staring and confused***

Me – “For the appointment I mean…”

Front desk lady – “What do you mean?”

Me – “Well… I had my appointment so I just wanted to pay for it”

Front desk lady – “Well, you can’t and you don’t”

Me – ***Staring and confused***

Front desk lady – “Yeah, it’s… Well, it’s free.”

Me – ***As red as a lobster*** “Oh. Sorry!”

So, for anyone coming from a country where you pay for healthcare, one advice, don’t queue at the front desk after your appointment, there is no need!

Au Revoir!

That’s all folks, I hope you liked my French perspective on all things British! And very big thank you to the wonderful Alex for letting me feature on her blog!

You can find me at Claire Imaginarium and if you liked what you read you can also follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest, Youtube and Trover!

Thanks for joining us today Claire! Great post 🙂 Also I like the sound of french weddings – free bar you say?!

Alex xxx

10 Things I have learnt since moving to the UK

10 Things I have learnt since moving to London

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  • Reply Janet T October 11, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I loved this – as someone who only gets to visit France for holidays to try to pick up on the cultural differences. I find this sort of thing fascinating and it’s great to read it from the point of view of a French person coming here. Bravo!

  • Reply Alex Donnelly October 11, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    I had a good laugh at this! How lucky are we to have the NHS though? It amazes me that not all people have this. Such a good post!

  • Reply Ger ( It's Me & Ethan ) October 11, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Sounds like you are enjoying England and the English traditions . I do like the idea of French weddings and free beer – that’s not a thing here ( ever ) I’m in Ireland so it’s different again from England ! Health care sounds pretty good there too,may I add !!!

  • Reply Suzy McCullough October 11, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    For someone who spent 14 years in France and has recently moved back to the UK this post made me smile. I saw many of the things she has seen that I hadn’t really realised before or had just forgotten about. And yes the NHS really is free lol

  • Reply Sarah October 11, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Thank you for writing this, it’s really fascinating! I never knew just how different the UK could be! xx

  • Reply Tyra October 12, 2017 at 3:28 am

    I loved this post! I had a British coworker here in China, who is now like my bestie and there was so many things I realized since I’m American. I’ve now started to say trainers and not tennis shoes. I love when she said let’s have a gander. She too has an obsession with Christmas. I do as well so it didn’t notice. I think I like the French concept of weddings. Open bar sounds nice!

  • Reply Aditi October 12, 2017 at 3:48 am

    That was such an interesting read. Dealing with all kinds of accents was the funniest part. I like the fact that they take Christmas seriously though 🙂 Cheers!!

  • Reply Heraa Farooq October 12, 2017 at 6:23 am

    Moving to an altogether new country is quiet challenging. I loved reading the experience Claire went through. Good tips for someone who is planning to move to UK 🙂

  • Reply Rhian Westbury October 12, 2017 at 8:28 am

    I didn’t realise that there would be so many differences just between France and England x

  • Reply Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs October 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Wow, there are more differences than I thought! I must admit, I do love a good old Sunday roast. Fab guest post 🙂 x

    • Reply Claire October 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Merci! FYI I am now addicted to Yorkshire pudding! It’s the bomb!

  • Reply Helene October 12, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Awesome article! I can totally relate, having lived in the UK for 4 years:D I miss Sunday roasts so much… They don’t have that in Madrid… Great guest post Claire:D

    • Reply Claire October 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      Merci! At least in Madrid you must have decent weather! 😉

  • Reply Michelle Kellogg October 12, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I’ve never been to either country but some of this is familiar. Like Christmas advertising starts in September. I think that’s craziness but I’m glad the U.S isn’t the only country who does that lol.

  • Reply Travelquartz October 12, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post. Claire writes with a sense of humor I really like such posts. I felt the same too when I visited London.. The accent. I love UK accent though. Working hours are less. Love that part. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Reply Katie October 12, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    HAHAHA love this! Yes christmas is serious business but not as serious as the English breakfast, the sunday roast or a good cuppa tea!! 🙂 My mum sent me Christmas chocolates from the UK to China last month! 🙂 You must try a Terry’s chocolate orange!

  • Reply lexieanimetravel October 12, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I love Claire’s story, I can totally relate! well not at the sense of living in UK but, me too Its been just 6 years here in Belgium and all I have are suprises every single day, I have learnt tons of things from Belgian people all these cultural and traditional differences ? you can directly identify. I did admire Claire’s spirit even though its gonna be hard for her living in another country she did adjust and somehow stayed happy!

    • Reply Claire October 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

  • Reply Kaz | Ickle Pickles Life and Travels October 12, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    This is so interesting to read! You are so right about the weather, we are obsessed! Kaz

  • Reply Michael October 12, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Sorry but being a Gooner, I cannot agree with that picture marked COYS. Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome October 12, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Haha I’m a Arsenal fan too – my hubby was surprised I had COYS pic on the blog!

    • Reply Claire October 16, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      I am completely neutral, my husband on the other hand not so much 😉

  • Reply Claire October 13, 2017 at 6:10 am

    I’ve only spent a few days in Paris so don’t konw all that much about French culture. This is a really interesting read.

  • Reply fashionandstylepolice October 13, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    The free healthcare is a blessing for me as well. And yes Christmas is definitely a serious business in the UK.

  • Reply Zena's Suitcase October 13, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    This made me chuckle. It’s interesting reading about it from your perspective. I don’t get football to be honest, but your right it is a big deal here and the accent thing is so true

    • Reply Claire October 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      I don’t get football either, my husband on the other hand, it’s a totally different story! 😉

  • Reply Jenni October 14, 2017 at 12:45 am

    I have spent my life between Germany and Scotland, and it’s funny how little things can be quite different. E.g. in Germany, kids at nursery and school all need slippers (Hausschuhe) to change in to, my older son even needed two pairs for his school, one for each floor! But here in Scotland, they just keep their street shoes on all day, no matter how dirty.

  • Reply Alex Lamb & Bear October 14, 2017 at 7:09 am

    I loved reading this! So funny to see your perception of the English. You’ve got us pretty spot on!

  • Reply Nadia October 14, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I can relate to a lot of this having moved here from Denmark 8 years ago. Although I always thought that business hours were bad here as people in Denmark tend to work 9 to 4 a lot of the time.

    • Reply Claire October 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      9 to 4??? Ok getting the cat a passport and moving there next!

      • Reply bettertogetherhome October 17, 2017 at 8:14 am

        Ahem take me with you!

  • Reply Heidi Brown October 14, 2017 at 9:29 am

    I loved this. It made me giggle at being British. You have found all the great things about living in England…..apart from the football haha!

  • Reply Rahat Arora October 14, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I stay in India and never been to any other country but with this post I can relate how tough to adapt ourselves in different countries and especially accent can be the challenge in visiting different places.

  • Reply Angela Milnes October 15, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Wow. I enjoyed reading this and it’s to know the difference of other country.

  • Reply Digital Travel Guru October 15, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    Really enjoyed this post so much had me laughing my head off, it is so so true lol and as a Londoner I can identify with a lot of what was said – fabulous post and great photos.

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