I’ve slowly picked up some survival tips after living in England since 1996. Here are 5 of them on culture:
1) Always starting your greetings with the weather, not food
Now I say ‘Isn’t it lovely!’ or ‘What a lovely day!’ to greet people, as ‘hello’, as opposed to saying, ‘Have you eaten?’, which is a Chinese way of asking ‘How’re you’.
And, I’ve learnt to agree with people when they praise or moan about the weather, because English people don’t expect you to disagree with them about the English weather. They just don’t.
2) I remember the names of our neighbours’ pets
My son told me off for referring to his pet lizard as ‘it’, or our neighbours’ pets as ‘they’. Ben said it’s rude to call a pet ‘it’. So now I know all the names of my neighbours’ pets.
Our opposite neighbour’s cat is Bella, another neighbour’s cats are Mary and Poppy, and there is a corn snake called Pyro, a leopard lizard called Airren and a crested lizard called Cody.
3) I make a big fuss about English people’s birthday
I’ve come to realise that English people celebrate their birthday as a marathon, because they feel so special about themselves, and they also put numbers on a balloon, so that you know.
For example, my husband would go home to his parents to have a celebration, later another celebration with wife and son. The next day he would buy chocolate and go out for a drink with colleagues, then he would buy DVDs or games for himself to continue his birthday marathon. “But, your birthday was last month!” And he grinned, “So?”
4) I make sure I go to toilet first if watching the BBC programs
It came as a huge shock to me that the BBC has no adverts. I come from a country where you get stupid in-your-face adverts every 5 minutes.
I remembered watching an uninterrupted Hamlet on BBC for about 3 hours one Christmas (p/s: starring David Tennant). That was a bliss, but I should have planned the toilet break better.
5) It is a virtue to be nice to dog walkers and their dogs
We do a lot of local walks in this sleepy little place. Some dogs would get too close to lick, sniff, climb on you and try to pull your arm off. Their owners would be ever so relaxed, saying, “Oh don’t worry, Rover NE-VER hurts anyone!” “He is a sweet puppy! He just loves children!” “Rocky’s VERY friendly.”
I’ve learnt to fake a smile or two and be nice, if I can’t avoid these over-friendly dogs.
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- Love me love my dog ? Part 2
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- Walking in the wood – Part 2