For Americans and Brits alike, life over the pond is an intriguing, same-but-different adventure many are drawn to. Much like looking into one of those morphing mirrors at a fairground, you recognize aspects of yourself, but also it’s completely different.
If you’re American, you may think you know the UK. Whether it’s from trips you’ve taken or from watching Harry Potter.
But the truth is, there’s a lot of British-isms you’ll need to get to grips with before stepping foot on the Queen’s country.
Please prepare yourself.
There are approximately 32390123910 BBC channels. And all British people know roughly what they all do, but we don’t know how we know.
BBC 1? That’s where the good stuff happens. I’m convinced nobody really knows what BBC 2 is for, it’s basically BBC 1s overlap. BBC 3? Arguably the best BBC channel, but it was moved online. BBC 4? It’s a weird place, but we usually venture onto it at, exclusively, 2am.
Don’t get us started on CBBC and CBeebies. OR the countless news channels.
Ah! Brown Sauce. Yes, you may think, I am familiar with sauce that is brown! It is called BBQ Sauce!
But no. You are wrong.
Brown Sauce is the same color as BBQ Sauce but it is not actually BBQ Sauce, it is just Brown Sauce. Brown in color, brown in name. The branded version is HP Sauce but if you look anywhere else, Brown Sauce is what you will find. Nobody knows what is in Brown Sauce, it is used exclusively at breakfast. But it is delicious.
What I should really say, is that your hash browns are different. Ours come in the worldwide (minus America) hash brown style. A rounded-triangle-thing which is essentially a dense, compact parcel for what Americans serve wild and free.
The only downside is, hash brown bowls à la Waffle House simply can’t exist.
In an unusually confronting way for British people, we openly say we’re going to the toilet, rather than calling it the bathroom. The bathroom is not the toilet. Because the toilet usually contains no bath or shower. It is simply a toilet stall and a sink. If a British person is using the bathroom, they are washing their body.
The UK’s ability to drink is no secret. With a drinking age of 18 and most teenagers drinking from around 15, we’ve had years to build up 1) tolerance and 2) a fantastic repertoire of drinking songs to be enjoyed by anyone in the pub.
This includes chanting ‘Down it’ when anyone is in a rush and needs to finish their drink, and starting a count down for those who are going too slowly.
…they are ‘Colin the Caterpillar’.
Any and every British citizen will know exactly who – or rather, what – Colin the Caterpillar is.
He isn’t, as you may suspect, a beloved children’s character. He is a cake. Colin’s are the cake of choice for every Brit from 1 to 100. They are technically only sold at Marks and Spencer, but every British supermarket has its own knock off (Cecil the Caterpillar etc). We love them all. And they will all be called Colin.
If you think this isn’t deadly serious, The Huffington Post actually tried the various versions and ranked them.
Step 1. Consume alcohol
Step 2. Consume kebab (only after 2am, only whilst drunk)
Step 3. Consume full English (the next morning, kebab forgotten).
Example: In a bar, buying rounds of drinks “Alright guys, whose round is it next?”
Real meaning: I know whose round it is but I’m reminding you because I refuse to ask outright.
Heatwave? Time for tea. Funeral? Tea will be served. Temperature below zero? Tea is a necessity.
We don’t discriminate.
Don’t fight it.
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