Last week, I shared five things I didn’t know before coming to the UK (make sure you have a look here if you haven’t!), and today, I would like to share things that I wasn’t used to when I first came to the UK.
• The weather
The weather in the UK is very different compared to where I’m from. Hong Kong is a hot and humid place, especially in summer. Hong Kong’s average temperature in summer is around 28°C and often exceeds 30°C. For winter, the average is around 15°C and maybe a couple of days below 10°C. It can get as low as below zero in the UK or even with snow and ice. The summer in the UK usually has a nicer temperature so that it won’t be too cool or too hot. Also, you may need some time to get used to the typical rainy, greyish days in the UK.
Another thing I wasn’t used to at first, is the time when the sky goes dark so early (in winter) or late (in summer). There is ‘Daylight saving time’ in the UK where the time is set back or forward on a specific date. In winter, the sky can get dark starting from 4 pm, while in the summer, it can stay bright until 9pm or later.
Everyone in the UK is very polite. It is likely that you will hear people saying “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” a lot. No matter when you ask someone for a favour, when you show appreciation for something or when you did or heard something unfortunate or inappropriate – you’ll find these three words useful and appear a lot.
The situations I mentioned is within the ‘normal range’, but when I was researching for the topic, I found a page that describes that Brits tend to ‘over apologise’. Sometimes, it may not be their fault; for example, when you bump into someone, you may find them apologising; or when I am so used to apologising, I even once found myself saying sorry to a wall (Haha!). Being polite is definitely a good thing, you’ll just need a bit of time to get used to the culture.
• Separated taps for hot and cold water
Most people from overseas would feel puzzled why many UK homes have separate taps for hot and cold water. At first, I always wondered why someone would design it like this. It is such an inconvenient design because you’ll either get freezing cold or burning hot water, and you don’t have a choice of having warm water, which can be a struggle. However, it’s understandable when you know the reason.
The story behind separated taps is because of historical reasons – it dates back to times, hot and cold are stored separately. Coldwater came from the main supply, which is suitable for drinking, while hot water is stored in tanks (which is not for drinking). The water is, therefore, from separated taps to prevent contamination.
Nonetheless, many modern homes have now changed to the ‘normal’ water tap already, so it’s not every single house in the UK that uses separated taps.
Next week, I’ll share more about my experience in the UK, stay tuned if you’re interested!
See you next week!