What are the biggest culture shocks people face when coming to UK?
Someone coming from India or Indian subcontinent,
Sharing the food...
While in India sharing of food is vital social norm and it is a symbol that you are accepted in the group. In UK and in Europe it is almost a cardinal sin.
I first visited UK in 2007, it was my first foreign trip ever. It was my first week in UK and my German friend who I knew for about a year opened a bag of chips while he was talking to me. I just took one.... he was not impressed. I can't remember what he said exactly however I realised I have made a mistake. I never touched anyone else's food ever. His face was just like this
I don't know since I have never lived anywhere else, but I should imagine it depends on where you are from. Although not cultural in itself our variable, and sometimes unexpected weather makes it a virtually universal topic of conversation. I rather doubt that happens in countries where the weather is predictable. It does mean that there is always something to use as an introductory remark to a stranger!
I am unsure that many countries have such an ingrained attitude to queuing. If someone moves in front of someone else in a queue - much less ignore the queue completely - those in it will become very vocal in their annoyance. If you want to purchase something and see a queue join the end of it. (If you have a really good reason to go ahead of some or all of those waiting then politely ask if they would mind (with an explanation) and they will usually be happy to oblige. In many places I have visited there seems to be no order at all....
As this is a multicultural country I don't think there are many problems for overseas visitors. We are on the whole reasonably open and tolerant as a society although there are always exceptions.
Moving from NZ to UK many years ago, there were a number of things that surprised me.
North and South were the wrong way around, I don't know if this is to do with the sun or magnetism but I kept going the wrong direction for a while.
There are no verandas over the footpath, so when it rains, you get wet.
The footpaths were wide enough to drive cars two abreast down (near Whitechapel), instead of being single file for people.
The footpaths were filthy. If you walked barefeet they would turn black almost instantly (unlike NZ). Women walk barefeet at 3am carrying their shoes, but not during the day.
There were people sleeping in the street, and not just on their way home from a nightclub. Not nearly as many as in USA where they are ten to a city block but more than zero.
There were so many buses, instead of the two a day we would see in rural NZ. You didn't have to hitch-hike everywhere.
Unlike in Australia/NZ/USA people were capable of walking from one shop to another 50 metres away without driving their car from one to the other.
Transgender people were white instead of Pacific Islanders (fa'afafine) and Maori.
London was much more diverse than Coronation Street or Eastenders would have you believe.
A few years ago, my Swedish brother in law with family came to visit us in Scotland. Wishing to soak up British culture, they chanced upon a local hostilry, entering with visions of the type of pub you would see on an episode of ‘Hartbeat' or ‘Midsommer Murders', they had actually chanced on a real British bar and their reaction was not positive!
Our local flea pit is not meant for tourist trade, real British pubs, especially in Scotland, all exude an odour of stale urine, non-locals will be glowered at and the few beers on tap are as good as stale urine.
So, not the cosy image conjoured up by British TV dramas.
Most sinks in the UK have plugs, I've found that there are no sink plugs in Sweden!
First let me define culture shock. This is the homesick feeling, mixed with disgust, and like trying to explain to someone who is making you feel that way in a way that sounds like its a good thing.
"Are you alright?" This was the one that I enjoyed the most, as I reached the cashier at the corner store and was taking out my money, and was asked that as if he thought I was about to emotionally breakdown. It was a lot less straightforward, it was nice way of saying, "How are you feeling?"
The one my expat southern american friend who lived in london for three years describes conversing with her English roommates like this, "It's not put the trash in the tash can, its put the rubbish in the bin" HA!
What is your biggest cultural shock from visiting the UK
Thanks for the request to answer, however I am British and have lived in London all my life.
I have travel to the US a few times for work, the biggest cultural shock is how bland the food is when compared with the UK and the chocolate is disgusting.
I also found many of the people I worked with, errr how shall I put this not that sharp. I definitely had to dumb down the humour.