When students arrive in London, they are usually surprised at how different London is to their expectations. The truth is, many nations have a dated perception of what it’s like to live in modern day London, but also the kinds of people who live here. Here’s a list debunking the most common misconceptions that I’ve heard during my time as a teacher.
1. ‘Teacher, I heard that Brits have afternoon tea’
In my 28 years of living here, nobody has once asked me over for afternoon tea with scones and sandwiches. Nobody has afternoon tea (unless there’s a celebratory occasion) and we don’t wear top hats and shout cheerio! You may hear pockets of people referring to ‘having tea at their friend’s home’ but this is referring to a meal which is eaten between the hours of 4pm-6pm. Usually when kids come from school, or people finish work, they may have a meal around this time to keep them satisfied until dinner, which is usually between 7pm-9pm. Of course, times vary and some people won’t have dinner and will just have tea. The important thing to note is that if you’re ever invited round for tea in that time frame, it’s usually a meal but it’s always best to check with host beforehand.
2. ‘ Teacher, do you eat fish and chips all the time?’
Well, I won’t lie and say that we don’t enjoy fish and chips. I mean there’s nothing better than tucking into a take away after a night out with friends. However, contrary to common belief we don’t always eat it. It’s not a staple meal, it’s a treat which would be the same as going out for pizza. So when students are met with such joy at the sheer thought of trying this British ‘delicacy’, I try to calm them down as it’s just a bit of fried fish and potato which can be found anywhere in the world. Plus, it’s usually covered in vinegar which isn’t to everyone’s taste.
3. ‘Teacher, there so many foreign people in London?’
Are you familiar with the commonwealth? To understand the diversity of this country, you’ll have to familiarise yourself with its history. The commonwealth nations are a group of countries which were once part of British territory. These nations include: Canada, Jamaica, India, Nigeria and Ghana. Although these nations are now independent and have their own rule of law, they still acknowledge and respect the monarchy. After the colonial period, they were allowed to travel and settle in the UK and were granted British citizenship. This is one of the reasons you’ll find a huge variety of cultures and Faith’s across the UK.
So, a word of advice: immerse yourself in the culture and brush up on your knowledge of British history. You’ll be surprised at what you discover!