The UK is home to world-class universities that welcome over 480,000 international students per academic year - that means you are likely to meet people from different parts of the world.

But while the UK is very diverse in its culture, the typical British lifestyle might be very different from what you are used to.

students in the city

Although life isn't back to normal yet because of the global pandemic, if you are a student heading to the UK and want to get the most out of your study abroad experience, it might be useful to be aware of a few cultural differences. For example: 

  • A cup of tea solves everything 
  • Forming lines (queues) is important - even when Covid restrictions aren't in place!
  • We are polite and apologise for everything
  • We welcome other cultures
  • Our famous landmarks are amazing
  • There’s a new accent in every town

A cup of tea solves everything 

On average, the British drink three cups of tea a day. But it’s not just an English thing - tea has been enjoyed for thousands of years in India, China and Japan. It’s a hot, calming beverage that can be enjoyed anywhere, from a café to the comfort of your student accommodation. 

Simply offering somebody a cup of tea is a great way to make friends or start a conversation.

Forming lines (queuing) is important

UK residents have a habit of getting into lines (queues) wherever there are large groups of people. Even when Covid-19 restrictions are not in place, the British do like to queue!

They get into lines, wait their turn and go by a ‘first come, first served’ basis. This might be different to what you're used, but don't worry, you will soon adapt to this. 

We are polite and apologise for everything

Like many other places in the world, people who live in England are known to be very polite. You’ll hear the local people and British students saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot. 

One word in particular that you’ll hear a lot is ‘sorry’. People say sorry for almost everything, even when it’s not their fault. 

A survey found that the average person in the UK says the word ‘sorry’ about eight times a day. Be prepared to hear it a lot when you’re studying here.

We welcome other cultures

The UK is always welcoming of different faiths, backgrounds and religions. You will never feel out of place and you’ll get to experience cultures you probably never thought you would.

For example, the UK is famous for its many 'Chinatowns' which are always popular in major cities like Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester. Then there are celebrations for Diwali, Eid and Chinese New Year that will show off the UK’s diversity and remind you of home.

Our famous landmarks are amazing

Once restrictions are eased across the UK and you can travel more freely, you will be able to explore some of our famous landmarks. Here are some of the places you will be able to visit in your spare time:

  • Angel of the North: located just outside of Newcastle, you can view this breathtaking sculpture that stands 20 metres high
  • Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament: London is easily accessible by train and is home to famous landmarks like Big Ben. Why not visit to hear the sound of Big Ben chiming?
  • Edinburgh Castle: Scotland’s capital has a spectacular fortress that has watched over the city since the 11th century
  • The Roman Baths: visit the bathhouse and temple that was first used by the Romans hundreds of years ago in Bath
  • The Lake District: enjoy the beautiful scenery in Cumbria’s Lake District - from amazing mountains to stunning lakes

These are just a few of the stunning locations you could visit in the UK. No matter where you go, you’ll find a welcoming community. Exploring really is the best way of getting the most from your time in the UK.

There’s a new accent in every town and city

From Newcastle’s 'Geordie' accent to London’s 'Cockney', you’ll notice the UK has lots of accents all over the country. It might take you some time to understand all the different words and phrases used, but don’t worry, the more time you spend in the UK, the more you'll understand them.

As well as these different British accents, you’ll hear lots of other languages in the UK, too. In London, it’s estimated that you can hear over 300 languages. The UK attracts millions of students, tourists and business visitors from around the world each year. 

Tip: If you’re worried about experiencing a culture shock, take time to learn about the city you’re studying in and make an effort to learn some local phrases. You can always talk to other students or your university if you’re worried about fitting in. 

Discover everything you need to know about studying in Newcastle

We know how exciting it can be when going on an adventure, such as moving to a new country to study - there is so much to discover you just want to go out and explore. Find out more about student life in Newcastle, read about our wonderful city and our historic North East region filled with World Heritage Sites, coastal towns and castles.