Life and culture
At home in your own country, there are lots of customs, habits and social rules that you probably don’t think about because you are so used to them These vary from culture to culture and that is one of the things that makes being in another country so interesting and thought-provoking.
You’ll notice differences in the way people dress, greet each other, practise religion, eat, behave in different situations, express their opinions, and even how they treat animals or have expectations of punctuality. It is a good idea to prepare yourself for any cultural differences by reading as much as you can about the UK before you leave. Try to think about what you’ll need to tell others about your own cultural needs too.
If you follow a religion and worship regularly at home, then you can continue to do so in the UK. Every major world religion is represented and most cities have Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist centres, as well as synagogues and churches of all denominations. Keeping routine with your faith will provide you with a link to your life at home but can also enable you to develop new friendships quickly.
The religious festivals celebrated in the UK reflect its multi-faith culture.
Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist festivals and holidays are all celebrated.
The food you can buy in the UK reflects the many ethnic influences in British society. Most supermarkets sell ingredients from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as food from many other parts of the world.
The British are increasingly healthy eaters and there is a very wide range of organic produce available in shops and supermarkets. You’ll still find the famous English breakfast and Fish and Chips, but you’ll also see a very diverse range of meals and menus while you’re in the UK. Families in the UK often eat a traditional “Sunday roast” on Sundays, but those same families are likely to enjoy new types of meals, anything from Italian pizza to Singapore Noodles.
The British tend to eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch (this is often quite a small meal) and then an evening meal (often called dinner or supper). Tea is still the traditional British hot drink and is usually taken with milk several times a day.
Being a student in the UK is not just coursework or doing research but relaxing and having some fun too. Students can get discounts on so many cultural experiences and attractions, and wherever you study you’ll find places to enjoy with friends or by yourself.
UK institutions pride themselves on providing great social opportunities for their students, with different societies and groups for a massive range of interests. International students from all over the world tell us about how easily they make new friends from all over the world. Making friends in the UK will really help you to improve your English too.
Events and celebrations
Aside from all the main religious festivals and holidays in the UK calendar, there are many traditional festivities that are enjoyed during the year. These include Bonfire Night on 5tth November when you can attend organised firework and bonfire displays. Bonfire Night celebrates the failure of the 1605 attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Then there is Burns Night – usually held on 25 January – which celebrates the life and works of the Scottish writer Robert Burns and people get together to eat a Burns Supper. In Wales you can join in the tradition of the Eisteddfod, a Welsh celebration of music, literature and performance. Aside from the National Eisteddfod, there are many other Eisteddfodau held across Wales including an International Eisteddfod and the Urdd (or Youth) Eisteddfod. This is one of Europe’s largest and most vibrant youth arts festivals.
Relaxation and inspiration
Coming to the UK to study is also about finding inspiration and excitement outside your coursework as well as discovering new activities and ways to relax. You can really be yourself by keeping up with your own interests or discovering new ones. The UK has an amazing cultural scene which will be all around you wherever you choose to study.
The UK is a really cool place for music of all types. Whether you just listen or dance you’ll find pop, rock or classical, folk, jazz or opera, and all sorts of world music. From small clubs, independent cafes and bars to international scale concert halls, rock festivals or gigs, you can listen and dance to lots of live music. Many independent artists and bands play at university or college venues.