England exchange students talk about cultural differences

Holly McCoach/Columnist

A completely different culture lies just across the pond. English exchange students Jessica Everall, Will Jakes, and Ben Steward, who are juniors studying forensic chemistry, traveled all the way from Norwich, England to experience the Miami lifestyle. After spending a little over a month here, the changes the trio have experienced are drastic, but exciting.

“It feels like a summer holiday all the time,” said Jakes, in reference to the sunny weather, palm trees, and the various sports that are constant throughout the semester, including basketball.

As far as stereotypes go, the fact that most English people drink tea is quite true, except it’s served hot. “We don’t drink cold tea. Nobody drinks [cold tea],” said Steward. “People drink tea all of the time and usually out of a mug, not a cup and saucer unless they are posh.”

In England, dinnertime is not always called “dinner” or “supper” either. “If you ever hear a British person talking about teatime, they often mean dinnertime!” said Steward. “Although, I will add that afternoon tea is the stereotyped time for tea and cake [or] biscuits.”

Afternoon tea is usually around 3 p.m., but most people, again, refer to dinner as teatime. As for some major differences between Norwich and Miami, Miami cannot beat the frequent amount of transportation available in Norwich and the rest of England.

“Public transportation is better [and] cheaper,” said Jakes. Gas prices are almost double the amount in England, estimating to about $8 per gallon. As a result, the cars are much smaller, and public transportation is common to the majority of the Brits. Even though automobile transportation is not common, the drivers there differ greatly to that of Miami.

“Texting and talking [on your cellphone] while driving is a big no-no back home,” said Jakes. Everall admits that she found it strange when her friend’s foot was propped up on the steering wheel. “Everyone has manual cars back home,” said Everall. Due to this, foot propping is not an option. Helmets are a must for bikers in England, as well as the use of your indicator, or as we call it, your blinker.

Lack of the use of your blinker in the UK is also a big no-no, which can allot to angry drivers who know you are not signaling your turn. Most Americans can usually mentally translate words and phrases that only the English use. However, in South Florida, Everall, Jakes, and Steward had a bit more trouble.

“I went [to a restaurant] and asked for tomato sauce and the lady looked at me like I just asked for an elephant,” said Everall.

Tomato sauce, otherwise known as ketchup, is one of many different words they use. People wait in a queue, not a line; pants are your underwear, not jeans or trousers; “air-con” is short for air-conditioning, not “A/C;” French fries are known as chips, and our biscuits are known to the English as scones. Jakes mentioned that he received a surprise one day when he received his food at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

“Why is there a scone in my chicken and chips, and where’s the jam and cream?” said Jakes. The KFCs in England differ in that no biscuits, or scones, are included in a meal. Some Americans or non-British folk may notice an “xx” or an “x” at the end of a text message, e-mail, or a conversational sentence from any Brit. “It’s a signal that the message has ended,” said Jakes. It also is a small charming indication of adoration or fellowship, but in a general fashion.

Most guys address this to female friends rather than to their fellow male friends, and it is mostly used informally. Fashion for the most part is the same, but after I asked the trio what are the main differences, Everall blurted, “Everyone wears socks and sandals!” Apparently, this seems to be the biggest difference that most foreigners notice. Other than this American staple, the only eye-catching fashion characteristics are baggy clothing and sports jerseys.

Everall, Jakes, and Steward do not regret joining the University community in South Florida, even though there are some minor and drastic differences. “All the international students are really close and are in a really tight unit. They are very welcoming and friendly. There [are] people from all over the world,” said Jakes.

Miami locals should not be wary to visit England. Just know that the slang, food, and transportation is little to milestones different, but with the right attitude visitors can enjoy all the little things England has to offer, even if it is just a cup of hot tea.