Tips on how not to feel like a weirdo in Britain
Are you planning to live in or visit Britain in the near or distant future? That is, if the pandemic makes it possible, of course. Well, apart from planning what you are going to visit or where you are going to sleep, among other logistical issues prior to a trip, it would be wise to take a look at certain social norms so that you don't find yourself in compromising situations.
We all know some of the common stereotypes of UK people - that they are extremely punctual, that they love tea, that they are very polite and so on - and many of them are in fact true.
Let's start with punctuality. Indeed, the English have a reputation for being very punctual, and the truth is that they are, well we suppose that there will be some who are not, but in general they tend to arrive everywhere at the established time. Arriving late can be considered rude, so if you are meeting someone and you see that you are not going to arrive on time, do not hesitate to call the person in question and let them know that you are going to be late.
It has to be said that being punctual is a good quality to have and is not exclusive to the British. I don't think it would occur to anyone to be late for work or a doctor's appointment or a show, mainly because the consequences of being late are not at all pleasant.
People tend to be unpunctual with family and friends, so you're likely to find the odd Brit breaking the norm and the stereotype of punctuality.
Do not jump the queue, it is sacred. Don't even think of trying if you don't want to get a good scolding from the people who have been waiting stoically and patiently before you arrived. No trick will work, no matter how sophisticated and well planned it may be. It won't work and you will become a non-grateful person, so be patient and wait in line like everyone else.
Polite above all else. The words "please", "sorry" or "thank you" are probably the words you will hear most often in the course of any verbal interaction. You will also find that the British apologise for everything, and ask for things very politely.
Don't try to kiss a British person twice the first time you meet them, as they may find this kind of greeting a bit violent. However, once you have become good friends, you can then give each other a hug and a kiss or two on the cheek. The usual way to greet each other is with a handshake or just a smile or a slight bow of the head.
By the way, don't forget to keep a certain distance from your British interlocutors, they need to maintain a certain living space; in fact, this is now easier to do thanks to the pandemic.
Do not ask very personal or delicate questions at first, as they value their privacy very highly and this could make them feel a little uncomfortable, but when they feel more confident, you can dare to ask for more personal information. Another thing to bear in mind is that they do not tolerate extended eye contact, so don't stare at them.
If you are invited to someone's house you are expected to bring some kind of gift, be it chocolates, flowers, wine... If you decide to go for a drink in a pub with a group of English friends, bear in mind that you will have to pay for a round. That is to say, it is not customary to order a drink individually but for the whole group, so check the number of people who are going with you.
If you are travelling on public transport, be aware that the British are very respectful of the elderly and disabled, so it is assumed that if there are no seats available, they will be given to the elderly and disabled.