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Learned in London So Far

by Mica Pointer
red phone booth london england

Last Updated on June 29, 2015 by

  1. Americans are loud.
  2. Pedestrians are aggressive. They are on a mission, and you’d better not be in the way of it!
  3. Look where you are walking, and walk to where you are looking. When the two conflict, disaster.
  4. Public transport is much more quiet in London than it is in the States. When people talk on subway cars, they talk only loud enough for the other person to hear, not the entire car.
  5. English men have awesome hair. Really they do. The long-on-top-short-on-the-sides-and-parted-either-in-the-center-or-off-center-or-all-to-one-side look was perfected in London. And it is awesome! Especially for people that have wavy hair!
  6. Traffic lights are important only insofar as it relates to telling automobiles when to stop, not to tell pedestrians when to cross. Most of the time, if there is an opening in traffic, you cross. Why wait for the light to tell you? People come and go whether the light says to cross or not. But if it says for the cars to stop, they have to stop! This is much different from in the States where everything is based on the signals, both for pedestrians and automobiles alike.
  7. The Brits don’t commonly say “Bless you” when someone sneezes. One of my professors even made fun of it, sarcastically saying “Yes. Bless you. Bless you all!” when somebody sneezed.
  8. The Brits hunt for clarity. They take nothing at face value, nor people for what they mean rather than what they say. If something strikes them as odd, or they do not fully understand, they will probe you for an explanation. Not only do they expect this from themselves, but they expect this from others as well.
  9. There is a difference between the American expression of someone being “pissed” and the British version of it. In America, “pissed” means that someone is very angry or frustrated. In England, it means “drunk.”
  10. Paper towels are a myth.
  11. Drinking fountains are a myth.
  12. It is safest to cross the street on people’s coat-tails. Cars are less likely to run over a group of two or more people, so if you see someone ready to cross the street at about the same time, cross with them! They have probably been navigating traffic a lot longer than you, so they probably know better when it is safest to do so.
  13. It’s not called “take-out”, it’s called “take-away”.
  14. Ok, maybe drinking fountains aren’t entirely a myth. To be fair, I did find one drinking fountain, but it was the only one I have seen after almost two weeks of being in central London. And it was broken, so does that really even count?
  15. “Yah” is to England as “Eh?” is to Canada. It comes up in conversations all the time, and hearkens back to that search for understanding. They are actively seeking for confirmation that you understand what they just said.
  16. Maybe I’m just incredibly chivalrous, but holding doors open for people seems like a completely foreign concept to Londoners! Then again, if I had places to go and things to do, I probably wouldn’t waste my time either.
  17. “Showy-offy”, “OTT” (over-the-top), “no probs'”, and “right ’round” are all new expressions that I have recently heard, and want to try to work into future sentences of mine.
  18. Retailers are very hands-off here in the UK. They will not go up to you when you come in, say “Hi! How can I help you!” and have a perpetual smile plastered on their face. They will be polite, and acknowledge you when you come in, but they will not hold your hand and stick to your side as you do your shopping.
  19. Know where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there before you set out to go there. Nothing makes you look more like a tourist than pulling a map out in the middle of a busy metropolitan area.
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