When I ask people who have immigrated here, what has most surprised them or struck them, many people say the weather. It rains a lot in Britain but we rarely have any extreme weather. We still talk about the Great Storm in 1987 or the few winters when it snowed lot. Autumn leaves blow on the train lines and our train lines stop. We are always getting ready for the emergency that happened the year before, so we stock lots of salt to get rid of the snow that fell last year. And we are never ready for any of the weather that happens, we don’t have the right equipment for lots of rain or snow because the extremes are so rare. We are lucky really that it rains all the time because we have enough water.
what we fight over, at least in London is parking spaces, not water. Local government makes money out of people parking in the wrong places so you wont have a row with your neighbour over water but you are very likely to fall out with them if they park in your space.
In the UK, we say hello and then we say how are you? The response is fine unless it is a close friend who asks you in a particular way and you know they really want to know. A Spanish friend has instructed her mum that when she comes here she is to say fine and not to list all her ailments. A Polish person told me that she tried for a week at work to give real answers to the question to see if they really wanted to know. They didn’t.
Discussing the difference between careers in France and Spain, I learnt that in the UK, you are far more likely to get fired but in 6 months time, you will have another job and you might be doing something different. The French and Spanish people told me that in their countries, you choose your career at the beginning of your worklife and that is what you stick with whereas in the UK, you might find you have several different careers.
A Frenchman described the British sense of humour to me today as keep calm and carry on. He told me that when he found the following TV programmes funny, Dad’s Army, Only Fools and Horses and Blackadder, he realised he understood the British. We often laugh at people who are slightly pompous, trying their best, get themselves into muddles and need develop some humility and work with others to get themselves out of the muddles.
He said that when he first arrived here 20 years ago, people asked him’why are you here? Did you get lost?’. f you take this literally, you would be offended, but he understood that this was actually a welcoming statement because the message, is, we like you and we are teasing you.
Thanks very much to Ibrahim for alerting me to the link not working. I have now corrected this – so once again, am asking if anyone who has immigrated to the UK, would help by filling in the questionnaire
We want to develop this blog into a website and so to help us with this, we are doing some research. If you have immigrated to the UK, it would be marvellous if you could spend 5 minutes filling in the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5WQ23W2
Or if you could pass it on to anyone who has, that would be great too. The survey is anonymous and all about helping us get it right.