Ok, so I have lived in London more or less half a year now. At the beginning I was very unsure about how to behave around the locals, since nordic culture and manners are a bit different than here. This is solemnly based on my own personal experiences – and keep in mind, that it is not supposed to be taken too serious!
The first thing, that I should probably mention, is “The London walk” or “The Duracell bunny walk”. In London everybody seems to be really, really busy (maybe they are just constantly late!) So if you are a slow walker, there is obviously something wrong with you. Make sure to keep up with your fellow pedestrians unless you want to learn it the hard way!
Training to become a fast-walker!
Speaking of fast the Tube can be a quite stressful experience for newcomers! On the London Tube everyone is always on the move. There is s a constant flow of people, and they want to get from A to B fast.
First rule: Always stand on the RIGHT side on the escalators – unless you are in motion! Do not start on the left and then sheepishly hop over to the right if you find out, that you are not fit enough to handle the busy side.
Second rule: Stopping abruptly in the middle of a crowd is a big NO GO! You might cause armageddon.
Third rule: Let people get off the train first! This is one of the most important ones, and particularly important for cultures where the art of queuing is less practiced than in Britain. You will not only get evil looks but also angry prompts to move away from the door and to let people get off the train first. (tip: You don’t have to press any buttons. Doors will open and close automatically!)
Fourth rule: AVOID RUSH HOUR! If you are a bit claustrophobic like me, the Piccadilly Line is worse than being in hell, if you chose to go in the morning or late afternoon!
And last but not least (and here is where I failed BIG TIME) Don’t laugh, when the next train station is “Cockfosters”! You will immediately be revealed!
Yeah, I think its better if I wear sunnies down here.
The drinking culture in the UK is not that different than in Denmark. Except that many Londoners drink EVERY day, whereas we Danes drink heavily during the weekends! I still don’t understand HOW they manage to consume so many pints of beer and still get up in the morning! The pub culture is quite new to me. In Denmark, we often sit in our cosy homes during the weekdays, whereas the pubs in London seem like home for many locals (and when you actually DO get invited home to a Londoner, expect an empty fridge!)
Frenchie is not a fan of beer! However, he does find it extremely amusing to try to steal some for me!
Another thing, that I have learned since moving over, is that everybody asks you “how are you?” Not, that they really care, but its part of the Londoners way of being polite. Make sure just to answer “Yeah, not too bad, and you?” If you start telling them about personal issues, and that you have had a really horrible day, the whole conversation will become extremely awkward! So keep your problems to yourself. Londoners like a good “banter” – however, I have a feeling, that being too open about how you really are, makes them feel uncomfortable. Please correct me, if Im wrong!
Trying to mingle at The Anglesea Arms in Kensington. (remember the pubs close really early, so don’t arrive too late)
There is more to London than Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street- in fact Piccadilly Circus and the areas around are so crowded, that real Londoners try to avoid them. For them its even worse than walking through Mordor, (so don’t suggest meeting up at Hard Rock Café!) If you want to have a nice London experience avoid the London city-map suggestions or touristy sites, that always send you to horrible rip-off restaurants next to souvenir shops and Madame Tussaud’s! It is of course all a matter of taste…
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the people in the city? I find my inner peace at the beautiful parks around London (this is Hyde Park)
Here are a few things, that I also feel like sharing with you:
If you go to some of the amazing markets, that London has to offer, bring cash! Many local shops and stalls don’t take credit cards (and you can often make a better deal, if you offer cash!)
If someone talks about going home for tea, it actually means dinner! I was quite puzzled by this in my early days over here.
The sound of sirens can be REALLY loud and a bit scary. But you will get used to them (because they are there all the time)
If you are in doubt, just ask! People are usually really nice to help you. Remember this is London. Many of the locals are actually foreigners themselves!
When making appointments with people always expect them to be late (at my birthday party all my danish friends showed up on time. The rest came later or didn’t show up at all. Apparently this is quite normal here, so don’t become disappointed… I still find it quite rude, though!)
Coming from a small town I started trying to blend in at the beginning, but guess what – you can be, whoever you want to be here (just remember to follow the Tube-rules!) So if you want to jump on a carousel in Southbank, just do it!
What do you know! The horse has my name on it. Its meant to be!
I love my new city – and I love the Londoners. Im not really sure, when I can call myself a true Londoner. But what does it matter! I think we all share the same feeling, when it comes to living in this city – for better or for worse!