If you have read the first part of the ‘Cultural Shock Series’, you know there are a handful of things to get used to when you first arrive in the UK. However, that list barely scratches the surface! Today, we dive into more surprises sprung upon me over the past six months.
#1 Casual Display of Alcohol
I was already caught off guard by the young drinking age in the UK, never mind the casual shelves upon shelves of alcohol in stores like Tesco, Co-Op, Sainsbury, Spar and more.
Back in my home country, only licensed liquor stores can sell alcoholic drinks and you would never be able to find even a vodka bottle in Tesco. So, imagine my surprise to learn that you can simply purchase bottles off the shelf as long as you have an ID to show here in the UK.
#2 Where Did The Fans Go?
Hailing from a country on the equator, air conditioning and fans—be it ceiling or standing—can be spotted in every bedroom of every household. On a good day, we’d keep only the fan blades spinning for a modicum of breeze; when the sun hangs high and cranks up the heat, however, we rush for the AC remote control.
Given the UK’s cold and breezy norm (I’m saying this even though we are currently in spring), fans and ACs are nowhere to be found. Student accommodations are fixed with a heater to fight the winter frost, but if you feel the need for a fan come summer, you’d have to hunt for one externally!
#3 It’s Sunny Toda-, Never Mind!
Take it from me when I say that Manchester’s weather has more mood swings than I do. Though we are currently jumping into spring as enchanting flowers blossom all around the city, the weather does not accurately reflect the season.
If you are lucky, the day will maintain its sunniness from sunrise until sunset; however, a more realistic day in Manchester would entail some form of drizzle and occasional gusts of wind. You could be walking down the sun-scorched street one minute and be scouring for your umbrella the next to combat the bothersome rain.
#4 Drinks and Things
The drinking culture abroad is so much more prominent relative to Malaysia. Although I have been informed of how commonplace it is for young adults in the UK to club and drink on a weekly basis, I was still unprepared to see it unfold before my own eyes.
I suppose it is the western way of letting loose after a good, long week of hard work. So, throughout your university experience, expect your peers to occasionally make weekend night plans involving clubs and bars! (p.s. this is not to say you can’t have a jolly good time without alcohol; Manchester’s nightlife has so much to offer!)
#5 Tick Tock, Tick Tock
I have come to learn how much Mancunians value punctuality. This is not only reflected in meetings you set up with others but also in the local transportation schedule. I guess in the city of worker bees, where everyone is moving at different paces, time and tide wait for no one.
There is an insider joke back in Malaysia whereby if someone says they are 10 minutes away, chances are they haven’t even left the house; you can see why the spot-on punctuality of Mancunians has me stunned.
A good rule of thumb is to arrive on time no matter the occasion. If you’re an A-star student, try getting to your destination a few minutes ahead of time. If you are running late, inform the other party of your delay as a note of courtesy.
Are there more cultural shocks you have come face to face with that weren’t mentioned? Leave a comment and let us know!
Now, take a look at my other Buzzing in advice pieces to help you as you start University:
Buzzing in: To pack or not to pack
Buzzing in: Watch out, don’t get shocked (part one)
Buzzing in: Apps to download before you touchdown in Manchester