Life at UCB through the eyes of our international student bloggers

Things I don’t know before coming to the UK

Things I don’t know before coming to the UK


I can’t believe that I have already studied in the UK for nearly three years now. I’ve learned a lot during the time, and today I wanted to tell you about FIVE things I didn’t know before coming to the UK.


• How are you?

Besides saying “How are you?”, you will also hear people greet by asking, “How’s it going?”, “How’s everything?”, “You alright?” – which all basically mean how are you. I was a bit unsure when I first heard people asking me because what I learned from textbooks was always “How are you?” “I am fine. Thank you.”. This is something that I never knew before coming to the UK.


• Other ways of saying “Thank you.”

Similar to the above, there are different ways of saying thank you in British English also, but the one that confused me most was “Cheers”. When someone says cheers, I would imagine that it is a word to say when you’re drinking and clinking glasses of drinks. However, it seems also to be a popular way of saying thank you in the UK, you’ll probably hear people say “Cheers, mate!” – which appears to be very British to me.


• Pudding

When talking about pudding, before coming to the UK, I thought pudding would just be a type of dessert. However, in the UK, the word pudding could refer to desserts in general and some food named puddings aren’t necessary desserts, such as Yorkshire pudding and black pudding, these are NOT desserts.

•  Yorkshire pudding – a type of side dish that you’ll often see as a part of Sunday roast.

• Black pudding – a type of sausage made when pork blood, often seen in a full English breakfast.


• British words/phrases/ slang

British slang is something that we won’t learn in our textbooks, and most of the phrases I have experienced is during the time I have studied in the UK. For example:

  • Knackered – tired/exhausted;
  • Dodgy – suspicious/dangerous;
  • The loo – toilet;
  • Fancy a cuppa? – Would you like a cup of tea?;
  • Bob’s your uncle – and there it is/there you have it…

I’m sure there’s a lot more I don’t know yet, it’s so interesting to learn local words, and I probably won’t have got the chance to know them if I didn’t study in the UK! English is such a profound language!


• Accent

In the UK there are lots of different accents. Before coming to the UK, I didn’t know that there are so many different accents. When I heard of the British accent, I always refer it to the ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP) – the ‘standard’ English, which is also known as the ‘The Queen’s English’. However, not everyone in the UK talks using the Received Pronunciation. In fact, only about 2% of Britons speak with the RP accent – There are more than thirty different accents used in the UK. For example, Cockney, Essex, Scottish and Birmingham, the accents change a lot in different cities; the whole country, from north to south, speaks differently. Despite that I learned English for more than ten years, I still had trouble understanding in the first few weeks when I came to the UK (but no worries, you’ll eventually get used to it!).

▲Each colour represents a different accent on the map.

You probably can’t read the words very clearly, but you can see the enlarged version here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the accents in the UK, you can also have a look here, a website from the British Library where they show you a brief history and 70 different recordings of accents and dialects in England.


See you next week!

Hoi Yan

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