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Coming to the UK? Learn about British Culture

31st March 2017

Leaving your home and coming to a new city can be both an exciting and stressful experience. You have to learn different cultural practices and try to adapt to them. Before embarking on your journey to the UK, here are some notes about British Culture to keep in mind.

When people think of Britain they often think of people drinking tea, eating fish and chips and never leaving home without an umbrella, but there is more to Britain than just these things.

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Greetings and meetings  

When two people are introduced for the first time they will sometimes shake hands. Sometimes, people will shake hands as a farewell gesture. However, not all people do so. You are not expected to greet a staff member or your teacher by shaking their hands.

Time and punctuality

British people make a great effort to arrive on time. It is considered impolite to be late. So if you are delayed, make sure to inform the person you are meeting. At Celtic English Academy, we have a rule that you can’t enter the class 10 minutes after the start of the class and 5 minutes after the break. So don’t be late and don’t miss the fun learning English!

The British often use expressions such as “drop in anytime” and “come and see me soon”. But don’t take these literally. To be on the safe side, always phone before visiting someone at home.

Body language and dress code

British people can seem to be cold when first meeting them. In reality, they are very friendly and helpful to foreigners. However, they like their own personal space. Try to avoid standing too close to another person or putting your arm around someone’s shoulder. Hugging, kissing and touching are also usually reserved for family members and close friends.

When it comes to clothes, there are no limits on how to dress. Just make sure you respect the general rule when in formal situations.

Student at Celtic English Academy dress casually for classes, but we also recommend to bring some nice clothes for going out to restaurants, clubs etc.  


Accept the jokes. The key to understanding British humor is knowing not to take yourself too seriously. Teasing someone is a common way to show affection. As one Briton put it, “you never make fun of someone you don’t like.”

General Advice

It is important to respect the British desire for privacy. Don’t ask personal questions about family background, marital status, political preferences or money issues. It is also extremely impolite to violate the queuing rule, so always wait in line.

British people like to get out and about on weekends and enjoy participating in outdoor activities such as shopping, playing sports, going to the cinema, the theatre or spending time with friends and family.


The new culture can be a lot to take in at first, so why not take our Global Competence Certificate? It’s a great chance to learn about yourself and others!

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