Written by Patrycja
Hi, my name is Patrycja, and I’m currently studying BA (Hons) Computer Animation Art and Design at Bournemouth University. I’m Polish and I came to the UK in September 2018 to study. Even though I’ve been here before on a school trip, actually living in England is completely different than what I expected. Even if you’ve visited before, some things might be shocking and you might find out some interesting facts about the UK that you won’t be told about in English classes at school in your home country.
You can’t be prepared for everything: The accents
Before I came to England, I thought that I knew English quite well. I was learning it for years, I have family in Scotland and Australia, and I had all my International Baccalaureate exams in English, and I was using the language on a daily basis at school and sometimes outside. However, after coming to the UK and socializing a bit, buying fast foods, etc., I realized that even though my English is good I still have problems with understanding common slang and words young people say. I had to Google some meanings of words used in text messages a few times! I sometimes couldn’t easily understand things were said to me because of the person’s accent, or someone didn’t understand me fully because of my accent. It gets better after a while, but I never expected pronunciation to be so important! To be fair, before coming here, I couldn’t tell different accents apart, like British and American ones, without really thinking and analysing them for a while, so it might be a good learning experience to actually try listening to some strong British accents. They can be really beautiful, but also surprising, and the fact that there are so many adds a little bit of colour to life here.
Surprises, surprises, surprises…
One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about British people is that they are really nice! They’ll start talking to you at the bus stop or in the shop, for example, about the weather or the cute bear you have attached to your bag. The Bournemouth bus drivers are so nice and can make your day. They have made me smile when I’ve felt upset so many times, and it is such a nice thing. The shop assistants and people in restaurants will sometimes call you “love”, “sweetheart” or “honey” and they sound so nice saying it. People are so polite here. Something peculiar is that a lot of people say sorry all the time, even if they haven’t done anything to apologise for. People might walk past me in a tiny kitchen, and say sorry even if they are not even close to you. They just say sorry a lot. I sometimes feel the urge to tell them to stop saying sorry because they haven’t done anything wrong! They say “please” and “thank you” a lot too. It might be hard at the beginning to get used to saying those words so much, and I might even seem rude to people as I’m still not using them as much as others. I make sure to say “thank you” to the bus driver, but with the more casual things among friends… I still find it strange that someone is apologising to me or saying thank you for a really small thing.
The words that I just can’t get used to
During my English lessons, I’ve found that I didn’t really learn some of the words that English people use on daily basis. I’ll often hear people say “Alright?” instead of “Hello”. It’s quite self-explanatory, but it means “everything okay?” in a similar way to “How are you?” Personally I found it really surprising, and it threw me a bit. However, the word that I just can’t get used to is “cheers” being used instead of “thank you”. I never would have expected that this word could be used for that, and for it to be used so often! English people use it interchangeably with “thank you”, and (seeing as how I mentioned how much they say “thank you”) I think it’s safe to assume that you will hear this word a lot if you come to the UK!