When you travel to Britain for the first time, the first thing you’ll notice pretty much when you exit the aircraft is how foreign the place is. I love Britain and I love its various cultures. And while I tend to think I have a pretty good understanding of the country and their cultures, there are still a few things that completely baffle me to no end.
Disclaimer: This post is meant all in good fun and is meant to generate a good discussion. Comments will be heavily moderated to avoid racism, abuse, etc.
Here’s a list of 9 things I still don’t get about Britain.
I bought this one time in the British section of the grocery store. I thought it was orange juice and I thought, oh how nice, British orange juice!
IT WAS NOT ORANGE JUICE.
It was probably the most disgusting liquid I ever put into my mouth.
Why does this drink exist, Britain? Why?
A common stereotype of Britain is that it’s a nation of drunkards. While not everyone drinks to excess in Britain, they do drink quite a bit. This is something that boggles my mind.
The problem I have when traveling to Britain is that I’m a teetotaler – I rarely drink and can’t stomach the taste of alcohol (it’s more taste over principle). This is all well and good but I’m missing out on a huge aspect of British culture because everyone hangs out at the pub after work or to close a business deal. It’s an incredibly social part of Britain and I know I’m missing out because I don’t understand it.
I don’t think I could work in the UK because I couldn’t handle constantly going to the pub with my co-workers and drinking away the sorrows of the work day. It’s just not the way I roll.
Toast as a Treat
In America, toast is the lowest on the totem pole of Breakfast importance. It’s often the last thing you really think about and is standard with breakfast everywhere. I’m not a fan of toast per se and don’t really eat it.
In Britain, toast is a treat. A lovely snack to be savored not just at breakfast but anytime throughout the day – toast is an acceptable snack any time. I challenge you to admire the ecstasy that happens watching a Brit have some toast in the afternoon. It’s hilarious.
Come on, guys, it’s toast!
Cynicism is basically a bed rock of British character and sometimes it’s interesting or amusing. But most of the time it infuriates me. Sometimes the British can just be so unbelievably negative that it boggles my mind.
But they would probably say the opposite about us Americans, we’re probably too optimistic and cheery for their liking.
Their cynicism can lead to some great humor, but when you experience it for a long period of time, you can’t stand being around people who are so negative. It starts to infect your own personality.
If you want an example of this, read the Daily Mail every day for a week. If you do, you’ll hate the government, immigrants, people who live on benefits, the NHS, rich people, poor people, Londoners, northerners… I could go one.
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten good service in Britain. I don’t know what it is – maybe it’s the prominence of Eastern Europeans in the service industry (but Brits themselves are just as bad).
Now, you’re just as likely to get bad service in the States – but generally service professionals do a better job – even the really bad ones.
Service is the worst in chain restaurants geared towards tourists. Service improves the further you get out of London, though.
Why do the British continually put up with this?
This is a hard subject to write about because it straddles the line between racism and politics but it’s something that really bothers me. A large percentage of the British population can’t stand foreigners and make it quite plain. It’s all over the media, the newspapers and sometimes the way you’re treated once you open your mouth.
What’s most astonishing is the double think, they’re proud of their multi-cultural society but yet they want to close the borders and keep people out. Their immigration system is locked up so tight it’s just not possible for Americans, Canadians or others from English-speaking countries to move there unless you’re wealthy or marry a Brit.
On the one hand, they’ll be welcoming to outsiders, on the other hand they ‘tut-tut’ at being overrun with foreigners. They have a special disdain for Eastern Europeans (except the ones that work hard). What’s most confusing is the distinction between ‘good foreigners’ (i.e. white ones) and ‘bad foreigners’ (i.e. brown ones). We’re all foreigners. Britain has been continually changed by foreign influences from people coming to live there. While there are recognizable problems with integration throughout Britain, overall being open to foreigners is a GOOD THING.
I’m going to drop a bombshell here.
I can’t stand Monty Python.
I don’t find it funny and I just don’t get it.
I love British comedy but I can never sit through an episode (or movie) of Monty Python.
I know this makes me a bad Anglophile but that’s just the way it is.
London is a shining beacon in the world. It’s a world city, a beautiful city full of life and culture.
And most British people will not hesitate to slag it off (to borrow a British term).
If one more British Person tells me to ‘get out of London’ and ‘see the real Britain’ I’m going to scream. Yes, most of us are aware that there is a whole country outside of London. We know that Britain does not equal London.
We just happen to Love London too. Many Britons have a love/hate relationship with their capital leaning towards hate – but we love it with all its flaws.
It’s really hard for tourists to leave London, renting a car is expensive and traveling by train is confusing to tourists (who come from a country pretty much without them). So, don’t be angry that many tourists like to stick to London and take advantage of everything it has to offer, at least for their first few trips. London is a thriving economic engine for the rest of Britain, whether they like it or not.
Look at the bright side, that just means less tourists and foreigners in your local villages!
Tearing Down the Successful
I’ve been watching this get worse with the advent of the world’s current economic difficulties. The British love to tear down the successful, whether it’s sneering at someone who’s gotten rich, finding ways to criticize them or tearing them down in other ways.
American is a land of optimism and opportunity and we hold the entrepreneur up with very high regard, Not so much in Britain. We admire people who take a shit life and turn it around into something better. The British are fine if people continue to wallow in their misfortune. There’s not a lot of drive to improve yourself and fix your life.
As someone who is a big believer in taking control of your life and fixing the problems in it – I just don’t understand this. Not only that, it pervades all classes and sub-cultures. People are content to be suffering and won’t do a damn thing to fix their problems or work out of it.
What don’t you get about Britain? Let us know in the comments!