When arriving at a till, in England, something rather strange happens regularly: « hey, how is it going? ».This little sentence puzzles the French citizen, who is quickly thinking « Am I really supposed to answer? Why is he asking me that? ». Similarly, people you don’t know from Adam feel free to call you « darling » when you are asking for their help, or my love when you are buying something. Strange England!
The hug: How to say hi, tricky issue indeed!
Whereas in France, la bise is the most common way of greeting somebody, in England, this 2/3/4 kisses are not at all common.
So you have a multiple choice:
- waving to your friend, making a quick hug
- which feels like a close gesture for us, while la bise feels like a close gesture to the English !
- or just being embarrassed and wait for the English person to say hi first…not the best option perhaps.
“Please keep off the Grass”
Lawns in England and particularly in Cambridge stay green all year. Lawns in parks, college gardens and along the river Cam look like the famous lawn of Premier League soccer stadiums. So, you really want to enjoy a football or rugby game or just have a picnic on it.
Do be in rush! Before, you must be sure that you are allowed to go on. In most cases, you will find a sign with the mention “Please keep off the grass”. In this situation, you have three ways to act:
- Stay out the grass and imagine you and your friends running on the grass
- Go on your way and try to find another lawn which will accept you
- Defy authority and walk on the grass. From that moment, you will have 2 minutes or even less, to do whatever you want on the grass before the security come and asks you to clear off.
Forget your French habits about the highway code
Of course the first days, as a pedestrian, you are likely to just avoid bikes, cars and dangerous buses which arrive from the right when you are crossing the street. Your chances to be hit are much higher here as Cambridge is a paradise for cyclists. Then, forget your French habit to not use the pedestrian crossing: passers-by would look daggers at you.
You feel as if you are in Harry Potter or Downton Abbey sets
The density of majestic colleges signal you that you are in a prestigious place. You have the feeling that you have been transported back several centuries. Indeed, when you look at King’s College you have the impression that you are in front of the Downton Abbey mansion. Even the canteen in Downing, with its long wooden tables and its ceiling moldings, gives you the impression that you are a very important person whereas you are not at all.
Shared housing is NOT a flatsharing!
In your dream, you would have a co-location like in “L’Auberge Espagnole” with a lot of roommates from different countries! You would be always in bars, pubs… And you would become professionals and would write a students guide with all the good addresses.
But…no. Shared house is the most frequent housing that you will find if you are looking for an accommodation. Yes you have roommates! But… Each of you stay in his room and you can never see them. British people are so respectful, so much that I think they wait that I enter in my room to move…
Recycle all that you can
British are very green people. We did not see any rubbishes in the ground. In a French world there are only two bins: yellow and green… simple! But in the greener English house of Cambridge where I live, there are 4 bins to know: green, black, blue, and bag. One for cardboard, plastic etc, one for other garbage, one for foods wastes, and the LAST one for cosmetics container. So I have 5 bins for a 10 square meters room! As much to say to you that recycle is now a game for me! (Yes! Do you remember when you were a baby, and that you try to put a form in the good hole…?). It is exactly the same!
Need to get inspired for your home decoration?
The British fashion rules are that you cannot be fashion if you do not fit carpet everywhere in your house. Stairs, rooms, living room, kitchen, wall… It is a joke! Not wall. Hum… I guess… (I hope! In fact, I have not seen it yet…). But the most important thing to know is that carpet is life!
Your first days would probably be like as following: you try to enter your house, you open the door with your keys, nice “carpet-ed” house! You put the key on the desk in the corridor and you come out again to bring back your luggage indoors, the door slams. Huck… There was too much wind and now you are behind the door. (Yes of course I panicked! . How can I enter the house now… I imagine a lot of plans… But luckily, the owner waited for me… Phew). The particularity of lockers is that you can’t enter the house without your keys if the locker are not blocked at the other side.
Then, you try to sleep… a big night to feel fine tomorrow and begin courses in good shape. Nope. British like…LOVE… curtains (with weird color)! Particularly, just next to their bed… Rainy weather? Not at all. I see the sun EVERY SINGLE DAY at 7.30 am.
Enjoy your trip!
(By Malou Taton, Marine Garaïcoechea & Charlotte Fernel)