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Etiquette is the code of polite behaviour in society. Knowing a little bit about British etiquette will help you ensure that your behaviour is polite and appropriate whilst you are studying in the UK. In the UK, people have a tendency to over-apologise. Of course, the person to blame would apologise as well, but apologising as the victim is a very English thing to do. In the UK, we like receiving warm heartfelt apologies as well as giving them.
If you have done something to upset or offend someone, it is important to offer them a genuine apology. A half-hearted apology will not go down well. If you are offered an apology, it is considered good grace to acknowledge and accept it. In some cases you may still be a little upset over the incident, but by not accepting the apology the situation will escalate. In the UK, wherever there is a mass of people you will find an orderly queue.
British etiquette dictates that when you arrive, you the back of the queue so that each person receives the service in the order that they arrived. The notion of an orderly queue relies on everyone in the queue agreeing that this is fair. A common British trait is that despite everybody in the queue being annoyed with someone who has pushed in, very few people will ask that person to go to the back of the queue. British people do not like to cause a scene by arguing, but likewise, we like people to know we are annoyed in subtle ways.
They may also complain to the person next to them in the queue. Photo by Daviddje. Many people from outside the UK find it strange that we say please and thank you as much as we do. It is considered polite, well-mannered and is a regularity of British speech. What may surprise you is when we are in a shop, restaurant or anywhere we are receiving customer service, we say thank you to the person serving us e.
In Britain, every social transaction is eased by reiteration of these phrases from both parties. Social kissing is becoming popular in Britain, but it is by no means an accepted norm. For example it is rare for men to kiss in the UK- this is usually a gesture reserved for women. Kissing is not appropriate in many professional situations. If you are unsure,stick to a handshake see below.
Holding hands as friends in the UK is quite unusual. Instead, more common for female friends is to link arms. For male friends, there is usually no contact. Holding hands is usually reserved only for parent-children relationships, or between partners e.
Unlike in most countries, discussing how much you earn or how much something costs anything from the cost of clothes, up to the price of a house has traditionally been a strictly taboo subject according to British etiquette. Sometimes British people find it embarrassing to discuss money and it can be seen as rude. If you are having a conversation with someone new, money and personal wealth are subjects best avoided. Only discuss money if the other person has raised this — then you know they feel comfortable talking about it. Definitely do not ask somebody how much they earn.
If you talk about how much money you have and all of things you bought, it can be seen as bragging, particularly when it heightens the difference between your financial situation and that of the person you are talking to. However, things are changing and British people are more open to discussing things such as house prices or how much their holiday cost.
But usually this is if the item they have bought is perceived as a bargainfor example if they bought their house below market value because the seller wanted a quick sale or got a really good deal on their holiday package.
Chivalry is seen as a very British trait and a distinguished feature of a gentleman. In old English Literature, women swoon over chivalrous men! When a teacher, your homestay or anyone in a position of authority asks you to do something, you must respect them and do it. It is very rude to disrespect people in authority. If you do not understand something about UK culture then please just ask! In your country, it may be considered respectful to look at the floor when you are being told off. In the UK, this would be considered a rude and disobedient gesture.
When people are talking to you, even to tell you off, they expect eye contact. A good firm handshake is a common way to greet someone in a business or social situation. Photo Photo by Scottish Parliament. In school you may have tasks and chores in your boarding house, it is polite and helpful that everyone does these equally to make the boarding house nice and clean for everyone to live in. Whilst you are at a homestay you should offer to help with the washing up and other household chores.
It is especially rude to use your mobile when eating at the dinner table. In the UK dinner time is a time for talking and chatting with family or friends. Good manners at the dining table are very important in Britain. It is quite likely that you will find British table manners strange when you first arrive in the UK and it will take you a while to get used to them. Here are some pointers to help you:. So much in fact that we have written a separate blog post on this subject — using the toilet in the UK.
It is becoming increasingly common to call people by their first name in Britain, even in certain professional situations, for example most people are now on first name terms with their doctor where as in the past they had always been known by their surname e. There remains certain situations where you would never address a person by their first name unless you were invited to do so.
This includes your teachers and people of an older generation. For many older people the easy use of their first name is seen as over-familiar. Mr and Mrs Smith.
In Britain, we love to talk about the weather! For example, the UK grinds to a halt if there is more than a few inches of snow fall. Talking about the weather serves as an ice-breaker. The function of the conversation is to initiate contact between two individuals. The conversation will usually take a diversion once a shared common ground is discovered but the weather in the UK provides us with a variety of topics as a starting point.
British humour errs of the side of sarcasm and is often centred on real lifesometimes painful observations of ourselves and others. The British use humour to make the best of a situation and to lighten the mood. Has your hair turned pink?!
They have noticed that you are spending a lot of time in your room and they are joking that this could be because your hair has turned pink. If you can laugh at yourself, you will be well liked and respected. If you tell good jokes you will be very popular here as British people love jokes!
The key to telling a good joke is not always the joke itself but pitching it to the right audience. A joke can alienate or cause offence in the wrong context. Telling a joke can be a good way to break the ice and make new friends.
Just make sure that your audience will appreciate the joke you tell. In the UK, tea is an integral part of everyday life. You will be offered a cup of tea anywhere you go in the UK and as you travel around, you will spot many tea shops and cafes. You can find out more about afternoon tea in our British food blog post.
English Breakfast teapot picture featured image by Scott Feldstein. We love Study Links guests starting with us and I share local knowledge and also love finding out about all different interesting facts from overseas students.
Study Links care to my daughter was aptly balanced without spoiling her, giving her boundaries while she went through her studies in the UK, thus strengthening her independent thinking. Nevertheless, in special situations that required swift intervention and assistance, they were appropriately there for my daughter to her immediate and long term benefits. Without question, Study Links have given me the best care during my study period in the UK. I feel like I have ed a big family. I have made lifelong friends from all over the world. School in the UK now feels like home and I have been given all the help I needed.
Ask us about our referral scheme - refer a family or friends to Study Links Guardianship today! Blog The latest goings-on at study links Blog Latest news British Etiquette — A guide for international students Etiquette is the code of polite behaviour in society. Apologising In the UK, people have a tendency to over-apologise.
Queuing In the UK, wherever there is a mass of people you will find an orderly queue. Photo by Daviddje Please and thank you! Minding your Ps and Qs Many people from outside the UK find it strange that we say please and thank you as much as we do. Discussing Money Unlike in most countries, discussing how much you earn or how much something costs anything from the cost of clothes, up to the price of a house has traditionally been a strictly taboo subject according to British etiquette.
Photo by Images Money Chivalry Chivalry is seen as a very British trait and a distinguished feature of a gentleman. Some examples of modern chivalry for the 21 st century include: offering a lady your seat on the train if she is standing opening the door for a lady offering to carry a heavy bag for a lady if it looks as though she is struggling offering your jacket to a lady if she is cold Respect authority figures When a teacher, your homestay or anyone in a position of authority asks you to do something, you must respect them and do it.Do you want this british male to go down on
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