Living like a local in the UK

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

The best way to get adjusted to life in the U.K. is to immerse in the new culture early on. If you’re afraid to tackle it alone, ask a friend or coworker who has been living here awhile to show you the ropes. Be sure to check various resources on your installation to see if welcome tours are provided.

DINING OUT

  • Do not wear sweats or running shoes to pubs, restaurants or clubs.
  • You are unlikely to be rushed during a meal, so people often stay for two hours.
  • Customer service is different than what you may be used to.
  • Servers may not check on you often so take the initiative to ask if you need something. 
  • Ice is typically not included with your beverages so be sure to ask.
  • Tipping is not required at pubs. Menus in restaurants will note whether or not tipping is included. If not, you can give 10-15 percent.

SHOPPING

  • Look for car park (parking lot) signs to ensure you don’t stay longer than what’s permitted.
  • When paying to park, over estimate how long you plan to spend. If returning more than five minutes after your ticket expires, you can face a possible £70.00 fine.
  • Consider using park and ride services in the bigger towns and cities.
  • Bring your own bag since shops typically charge five pence per plastic bag on the economy.
  • Have a pound or trolley (cart) coin with you as some supermarkets require you to deposit this to get a trolley.
  • Many supermarkets offer online ordering and delivery services.
  • Most shops will be open Monday through Saturday from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with shorter hours on Sundays.  Supermarkets may be open longer hours depending on their location.
  • Consider registering for an off-base supermarket points card.  These are free and earn you money off coupons which can result in savings in store and online. 

Be on the lookout for market days near you so you can buy fresh local produce and goodies.

  • Common off-base supermarkets:
    • Tesco
    • Sainsbury’s
    • Co-op
    • Asda
    • Iceland
    • Waitrose
    • Morrisons
    • Aldi
    • Lidl

RECYCLING

Recycling is a requirement. Each local council and town can be on different trash and recycle pick-up schedules — so be sure to ask your landlord or neighbors for information. Check with your installation about their recycling and waste disposal regulations and who it applies to.

Here’s a clear list of what to recycle:

  • Paper
  • Boxes (from cereal boxes to shoe boxes)
  • Cardboard
  • Envelopes
  • Paper
  • Paper bags
  • Reading materials (paperback books, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, mail)
  • Wrapping paper
  • Non-paper packing material
  • Aluminum foil
  • Bottle tops
  • Jar lids
  • Metal cans/packaging
  • Net bags for produce
  • Plastic bags (storage bags, bags that food comes in, grocery bags)
  • Plastic bottles/cartons
  • Styrofoam
  • Biodegradables/compost
  • Branches
  • Bread
  • Egg shells
  • Flowers/Plants
  • Fruit
  • Hay and straw shavings
  • Nutshells
  • Paper towels
  • Tea bags
  • Untreated wood
  • Vegetables
  • Wood chips
  • Residual
  • Ashes
  • Cat litter
  • Diapers
  • Feminine products
  • Kleenex
  • Meat (including bones)
  • Mirrors
  • Non-packaging metals/plastics
  • Seafood (including shells)
  • Soiled paper products
  • Vacuum cleaner bags
  • Glass
  • White, clear, green, brown, blue and other colored glass
  • Drinking glasses
  • Non-returnable glass jars/bottles
  • Other glass packaging
  • Bulk and hazardous waste
  • Batteries
  • Chemicals/detergents/pesticides
  • Construction waste
  • Cooking oil
  • Electronics
  • Furniture (some councils will collect these for a small charge)
  • Large branches
  • Lightbulbs
  • Mercury thermometers
  • Other oils
  • Paint
  • Scrap metal
  • Tires
  • Trees

BRITISH vs. AMERICAN ENGLISH

A common misconception is that since English is a shared language amongst Americans and the British, that it is entirely the same. Well, that’s not quite the case. Familiarize yourself with British English with the chart below. On the left hand side is the British word for the American word or phrase on the right hand side.

Transportation

  • Bonnet = hood (of a car)
  • Boot = trunk (of a car)
  • Car park = parking lot
  • Caravan = camper/trailer
  • Car hire = rental car
  • Carriageway = smaller highway
  • Estate = station wagon
  • Flyover = overpass
  • Gearbox = transmission
  • Indicator = turn signal
  • Junction = exit
  • Lay-by = rest area
  • Lorry = semi-truck
  • Motorway = freeway/expressway
  • Number plate = license plate
  • Petrol = gasoline
  • Roundabout = traffic circle
  • Saloon = sedan
  • Sat nav = GPS
  • Tube/underground = subway
  • To let/for let = for rent
  • Windscreen = windshield

Food

  • Aubergine = eggplant
  • Biscuit = cookie
  • Candy = hard candy
  • Chicken goujons = chicken tenders
  • Chips = thick-cut fries
  • Cooker/hob = stove
  • Courgette = zucchini
  • Crisps = chips
  • Cuppa = cup of tea
  • Ice lolly = popsicle
  • Jacket potato = baked potato
  • Mince = ground meat
  • Peckish = hungry
  • Rasher = Bacon
  • Sweet or pudding = dessert
  • Sweets = candy
  • Takeaway = take-out food
  • Toastie = grilled/toasted sandwich
  • Trolley = shopping cart

Shopping/Clothing

  • Chemist = pharmacy
  • Jumper = sweater
  • Nappy = Diaper
  • Off-license = liquor store
  • Pants = underwear
  • Pushchair = stroller
  • Quid = slang for pounds sterling (GBP)
  • Rucksack = backpack/knapsack
  • Spectacles = eyeglasses
  • Trainers = athletic shoes
  • Trousers = pants
  • Wardrobe = closet

Miscellaneous

  • Barrister = lawyer/attorney
  • Bin = trash can
  • Bits n’ bobs = knickknacks
  • Bob’s your uncle! = There you go!
  • Booking = reservation
  • Bugger = jerk
  • Cheeky = sneaky
  • Cinema = movie theatre
  • Cot = crib
  • CV = resume
  • Diary = calendar
  • Dodgy = suspicious
  • Dummy = pacifier
  • Film = movie
  • Flat = apartment
  • Flypast = flyover
  • Football = soccer
  • Garden = yard
  • Hen party = bachelorette party
  • High street = main street
  • Holiday = vacation
  • Lift = elevator
  • Loo = toilets
  • Mad = crazy
  • Mate = friend
  • Mobile = cell phone
  • Opposite = across from
  • Plaster = band aid
  • Post = mail
  • Post code = zip code
  • Quay = dock/wharf
  • Rubbish = garbage
  • Queue = line
  • Ring = call
  • Rubber = pencil eraser
  • Stag night = bachelor party
  • Sun cream = sunscreen
  • Tick mark = check mark
  • Torch = flashlight
  • Uni = college/university
  • Whinge = whine

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