Living in the UK: Expectation vs Reality

For a long time, I had a dream to travel the world and live in different countries. Funny enough, the UK was never on my list of countries ‘to live’, but here I am, sitting in front of my laptop in the North East of England. I have lived in the UK since 2015, so yeah it has been a while. Despite not being on my list of countries ‘to live’, right before I moved to this country, I had a long list of expectations on what it’s like to live in the country where the crown still reign — I know it doesn’t really have constitutional power anymore, but it still exists, and if you learn more about the law and politics (in which I graduated in) in this country, the crown actually has absolute power on certain occasions — Anyway back to the story, I was a teenager back then, so I kinda had this idea in my head that I was going to find a prince charming in the white horse with a strong posh British accent that will introduce me to the royal family. Well I guess, no more prince is charming in the white horse, this is a modern fairytale.

1. People drink Tea

I guess the first thing that I expect was that everyone drinks tea, maybe all day, or at least in the morning and the afternoon. Don’t blame me for this expectation because this is what every movie shows, British people love to drink tea. Especially ‘afternoon tea’. Well, I happen to find out that I drink more tea than most British people I know. Maybe because I am quite addicted to tea, but I drink decaf anyway now so it should be alright. But I only drink about three glasses of tea a day, and still, most people in this country don’t even drink tea once a day. My best friend, from Newcastle, barely drink tea at all. My boyfriend, from Durham, live in London, drink two cups of coffees every day, not tea. Everyone I know at work drinks coffee every morning, not tea. I was literally the only person in my team who drinks tea. I guess people in this country drink more coffee than tea, so I guess my expectation about tea has been proven not to be accurate.

2. “British people are polite, even when they drunk”

This is just not true. I mean, British people are polite, but not when they are drunk. If you have seen the nightlife in the UK, it is as bad as anywhere else in the world. People drunk, shouting at each other, pick a fight, smoking, throwing things at each other, argh all of that stuff, it happens in this country. I’m not sure why but before I came here, I had this expectation that the nightlife won’t be that bad or at least people will still behave when they drunk. I guess it’s because everyone always says that British people are polite and always know how to behave, which I believe it’s true to some extent, but not when they drunk. What I can’t believe is that, until now, people that have never lived in this country, still think that the nightlife in this country somehow is very ‘organized’. They kinda have this belief that people in this country are too polite to shout at each other or to pick a fight. Well, let me tell you this, I have seen the worst behavior of drunk people in this country. If you don’t believe me, come see it yourself, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you, I even wish I never have seen what I saw.

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3. Everyone is wealthy

You know, people always expect that the UK is one of the most developed countries in the world, that everyone here is rich. I used to think like that too, but with regret, I have to say that this is not true at all. Many people in this country are rich, but many are not. Of course, this is normal, every country has the rich and the poor. And I can confirm that the gap between the rich and the poor is not huge, which is a good thing, but that does not mean that there aren’t any poor people in this country or even homeless.

When I was in uni, I used to work part-time in retail. That’s when I opened my eyes that not everyone is this country is wealthy enough. Some people have to rely on 12 hours a week job to provide their living, which nothing is wrong with it, but one of my friends told me explicitly that he doesn’t earn enough money to provide a living for day to day life. Even worst, if you live in a big city like London or Manchester, you can see there are so many homeless. I have lived in different parts of the country, talk to people from different backgrounds, and I can see that many are struggling to earn enough money, just like everyone else in the world. I guess what I’m trying to say is, the newspaper, media, TV, always show all of this posh wealthy British people with fancy cars, mansions, castles, horses, the queen, and the royal family — that somehow people developed the idea in their head that the UK is such a wealthy country. Which I don’t dispute, the UK is a wealthy country, but there are things behind the scene that people don’t see. There are minors in this country that suffers as much as many other people in other parts of the world. The part of the country that the media never show. 

4. British accents

I noticed after writing the last part it was quite a heavy topic, so this one I make it a bit light, yeah about accents. Many people that never lived here always find British accents to be appealing, or some people will say that they love British accents. So here is my story, I was a huge fan of One Direction, I guess that was the main reason why I moved to the UK in the first place. So maybe I was a little obsessed with accents, although my favorite was Niall and he is Irish though. But anyway, when I first came here I still believed that the accents were appealing, to the point that I really wanted to have the accents. However, after living in different parts of the country, I realized that there are different accents in this country. Some accents, I could confirm is appealing, mostly southern accents though. But some parts of the country have such accents, that I don’t think people will find it sexy or even appealing. I would not mention which accents I’m talking about cause I think it would be quite rude, but some accents, you won’t believe that these people are British. I guess, just like other countries, some people have more appealing accents than the other. The problem is that TV shows and movies have never shown different parts of the country accents. I honestly think those movies and shows have only used London accents, which is only one out of 48 counties in the UK.

Surprisingly enough I honestly enjoy writing this. Disclaimer though, don’t get me wrong, I love the UK and I’m very grateful to have a chance to live in such a beautiful country. I’m just saying some expectations do not meet the reality, which is almost the case for every situation. If you have never been to the UK or never lived here, I think you should give it a try. It is a great country, and a nice one to live (despite the weather). So I would recommend visiting or maybe even living in the UK, just don’t have too many expectations, and of course, be prepared for the weather!

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