Mind the Gap

Sometimes, when students are choosing a destination to go when studying abroad England and Australia are top choices because they are English speaking countries so students think, “Oh it won’t be that different” or “Oh it won’t be that hard to communicate”. Granted going to a country where you only speak a little of the language or none at all. However, that doesn’t mean that students should assume the UK and the Us are culturally similar. While we share many things such as our language, there are still some key things that make us different.

  1. The role of humor- Humor is the UK is much more subtle and self-deprecating where American humor is crass and loud. At first it may be hard to tell when someone is joking and when they are being serious, but after a few days, you’ll be able to tell the difference.
  2. Working etiquette- the work environment in the UK and much of Europe is much more relaxed than it is in American. Generally, people don’t check their work email once the work day ends or over the weekend. This doesn’t mean that any less work is done, simply that there is a clear divide between one’s work life and one’s personal life
  3. Tube etiquette- no one talks on the tube. The minute you start talking people can tell you’re American. Not just from your accent or words, but from the fact that you are simply talking.

Of course there are many other differences and similarities between the US and UK, these are just some that I have noticed in my first few days of interning and classes. It’s definition important for students to read a much about a country as they can before they go to it so they are aware of cultural norms. It helps to make the transaction into life in the new country much easier. Reading the culture smart book definitely helped me as well as TV shows and magazine articles that I read.

When going to a foreign country, no matter how similar its culture may appear to be to your own, remember to “mind the gap” and be cognizant of differences to help make your trip more successful!