One Semester in England: My Observations

From September 2014 till January 2015 I was studying in Newcastle, which is situated in the North of England and has a population of 289,835  people. In this post I’ll try to put together my notes and create a picture of England the way I saw it. Thus, I don’t claim this is the way England IS. This is merely my perception of it.

  1. Bus is a public vehicle made to drive you…CRAZY
    The busses in England come and go whenever they so desire. A timetable is something you can have a look at but you should not rely on it too much. Sometimes the busses were on time, which made me very happy. Most of the time, however, they came 10-15 minutes late. Even worse, several times I was waiting wait for a bus for half an hour. Outside. On a cold, foggy day. As tolerant as I am, at this point I was hating everything and actively swearing in my head (in Russian, of course 😀 )
    Another negative thing which has to do with busses is that at the end of the day they are full of rubbish! Sometimes I couldn’t believe my eyes and was asking myself, why was it so hard for people to throw the rubbish away outside the bus, preferably in a bin. Thus, the myth about so well-mannered English people was destroyed for good.
    One positive thing about busses is, though, that you can get free newspapers there.
  1. Sorry-nation
    This was kind of cute that people would say sorry all the time. Sorry for nearing you as close as one meter in the shop. Sorry for taking one of multiple packs of salmon you were staring at. Even if it was me who stepped on their foot or pushed them slightly (not intentionally, of course) they would still say sorry.
  1. Queue-nation
    Really hilarious! English people would queue even at the bus stop! In case the queue got messed up, everyone still remembered their order and knew when was their time to enter the bus. Quite often I observed incredibly cute courtesy spectacles between two people, when each of them was trying to let another one get on the bus first. Most of the time they both did several attempts before one finally agreed and did enter ^^
  1. English people don’t have a sense of cold
    This sounds crazy but my German friend and I didn’t have any other explanation of the phenomenon!  At the end of autumn, when we were wearing jackets, trousers (or at least thick tights), and warm scarves it was a normality to see a girl heading for a party in a mini-dress. No tights. No jacket. Just a clutch. The same was with boys wearing T-Shirts. We were looking at these people with our mouths open and were speculating  about what would have happened to us if we had gone out dressed like that (fiver, inflammation of every possible organ???). Moreover, the year before we arrived in Newcastle, there was quite a severe winter there, not very typical for that region. So the radio moderators knowing the habit of their countrymen were trying to convince them to wear coats 😀
    It really seems to be a national trait to wear as little clothes as possible if you want to be cool. However, I believe English people do have a bit different perception of cold, as even babies get accustomed to this practice because their parent don’t put any hat on them at 10 degrees above zero (our Belarusian children always were a hat: in summer to protect them from the sun, at any other time to protect them from wind and cold).
  1. Dark-blond men
    Just a small remark for women: if you prefer/adore men with dark blond hair and a three-day beard, England will be a paradise for you! 😉 What is more, a lot of them do know what courtesy means, so they will hold the door for you or let you come in first.
  1. Stylish women
    This is an interesting point. At the beginning I was stunned by how stylish all the women, especially young girls, were dressed! I was looking at them and enjoying tremendously what I saw because in Germany I forgot how it feels like to be surrounded by stylish, well-dressed people (sorry,sorry my dear German friends, it’s not about you! 🙂 ) However, with the time I came to conclusion that most of them were looking very similar, wearing the same type of shoes, trousers, coats and scarves. Even their makeup was alike: a thorough foundation, dark eyes and bright lips. This discovery was disappointing.
  1. Party culture (North of England is very famous for it!)
    This was also something I was not used to. In Newcastle you can go out every night: Pubs, Clubs whatever you want!
    Especially on Friday and Saturday night the city was full of people. They all were dressed up and were either drinking in pubs or heading for a club (often both). Moreover, these were not only young people but people of almost all ages. This made the city very vibrant and full of life.
    Plus, at this point I have to mention girls’ dresses again. Each time I was in the city late at night I was wondering where all these stylish girls mentioned above were and why I was surrounded by almost exclusively slutty looking ones? O_o Was it such a transformation, like in Cinderella, or were all the stylish ones sitting at home with a cup of tea? I don’t know but the fact remains: high heels (so high that they were not really able to walk on them) and tiny dresses which started somewhere at the middle of their brest and ended exactly at the point where the booty ended. This ment that the girls were not able to band forward for more than 2cm, otherwise everyone could have observed their underwear.  Really bad.
  1. Stand-Up comedy
    This branch is incredibly popular in England and other English-speaking countries. As a huge and devoted fan of stand-up I felt like in paradise in Newcastle, as there was a club where every day was a cool gig.  I was even so lucky to be at Dylan Moran’s performance, twice, for 5 pounds.
    (for those who want to check the stand-up comedy scene, I would recommend the following comedians: George Carlin, Russel Peters, Dylan Moran, Whitney Cummings, Ricky Gervais, Jim Jefferies, Louis CK; Kaya Yanar – performs in German)
  1. Two taps
    You really don’t know how to manage this devil thing! In one tap there is cold water, in another one – hot! Thankfully, taking shower was not a problem as there was a mixer shower there. But brushing one’s teeth or washing some dishes can become a real challenge or at least an unpleasant experience.
  1. Expensive country
    Well, this information is not new. England is expensive. London is exrteeeeemely expensive (one of the most expensive cities in the world)
  1. Excellent university
    Our university was incredibly well furnished and equipped: nice rooms, modern equipment, comfortable seats, chilling and study rooms for students etc. This should though not surprise anyone if we consider how much money the students pay for their education (£9,000 per year) RemarkI didn’t pay a cent as I was sent there by my German university.
    However, the best part of the university was the modules offered: a great choice of interesting, highly topical subjects. I was really blown away by options I was able to choose from.
  1. Geordie accent (typical for northern England)
    simply not possible to understand! At first, when we were hearing someone talking Geordie on the bus, we were struggling to understand what language these people were talking until we realised that was English, English that we could not understand.
    I, though, have to say here that we personally were almost never confronted with people speaking Geordie, except of one time when our boiler got broken and a repairman came to our place to fix it. A few hours later he wanted to explain me and my flatmate what he had done and what else needed to be done. He was talking for about 2 minutes and we both were listening very carefully. After he had left, my flatmate turned to me with her eyes full of hope and asked: “What did he say?”  “The only thing I understood was tomorrow“, I replied 😀
Newcastle, view on Millenium Bridge from BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Newcastle, view on Millenium Bridge from BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “One Semester in England: My Observations

  1. i have to comment on some of your observations, since they took me back to my little time in england as well 😀 the busses e.g. i loved… well not the rubbish of course, but the queuing was rather nice and i noticed with great surprise that people thanked the bus driver as they left, did u notice that too??
    the numbness of english skin regarding temperature also is a vivid memory of mine. i remember walking wrapped into a warm coat around town in january and looking at bare legs, stuffed in pumps and a miniskirt… i couldnt trust my eyes either, however also found it not to be a rarity. well, then, your next remark about the slutty outfits at night – no surprise, is it? they somehow need to improve/enhance/increase the percentage of skin-showing/sexiness of their outfits at night. which turns out to be desastrous for any european feeling towards fashion. i´ve seen women in miniskirts (with their knickers showing) who hardly wouldn´t dare to leave the house here in germany… at all (little exaggeration)… masses of fat wabbling around held by hardly any fabric at all… oh boy…
    and last but not least, dark blond men- oh i, too, have encountered them, however, in most cases, hope they never open their mouths… 😉

    Like

    • Great points! I am glad we had similar experiences.
      Yes, people thanked the bus driver! I completely forgot about this, so thanks for reminding me! 🙂
      “They need to increase the percentage of skin-showing/sexiness of their outfits at night” – haha, very well phrased! And the story about masses of fat is, unfortunatelly, also true..ewwww.

      Like

  2. I only got to spend a week or so in Manchester, but I’ve always wanted to go back to England. Especially growing up a soccer fan and hearing the legend of Newcastle Football Club. I’m also a comic and I had no idea stand up comedy was such a huge thing there! I’ll have to look into it some more. Cool blog!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s