Thinking about moving from India to the UK? You’ll love it. However, certain customs and cultures will be slightly different to what you’re used to at home. Here are four culture shocks worth preparing for…
Away from home, you’ll likely find yourself craving some comfort food at some point. Luckily, there are approximately 12,000 Indian restaurants in the UK so there’s plenty of choice to pick up your favourite dish—supposedly, anyway.
Keep in mind that many of Indian restaurants in the UK will have Westernised takes on some of your favourite dishes. In addition, Pakistani and Afghani food influences can often trickle through to please unheeding guests looking for spice. Do your research before you go, look at menus and ask around for recommendations. TripAdvisor is a great tool for reading restaurant reviews before committing to a visit.
Even in the peak of summer, UK weather can be cold, windy and wet. In fact, it can rain anytime. A stark contrast to the weather you’re used to back in India, then.
Be prepared by investing in a high-quality raincoat and try to remember to carry an umbrella about when the forecast predicts showers. But if you get wet, you get wet. It’s all part of the British fun.
Public transport in India is relatively cheap. But at the same time, it can be slow, crowded and unreliable. Public transport in the UK however is considerably more expensive but a lot more reliable, with most people in big cities choosing buses, trains and subways as their transport of choice for getting about. During rush hour (7.30am-9.30am and 4.30pm-6.30pm), public transport in big cities like London, Manchester and Edinburgh will be busy. However, outside of these hours you’ll likely get a seat.
You might not have thought twice about hopping in a cab in India. But be prepared that taxis are a lot more expensive in the UK—particularly if you’re taking a long journey. And whilst cross-country trains in the UK are considered poor compared to other European services, they’re still reliable and efficient.
Although you wouldn’t think it due to its size, the accents you’ll come across in the UK are vast and varied. Even the North London accent and South London accent are starkly different. Throw in regional tones, Scottish varieties, Welsh phrasing and the Irish twang and you instantly lose count of just how many ways there are to speak English.
This can be a great thing of course, since Britain is a melting pot of so many customs and cultures. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself struggling to tune in from time to time—it’s completely normal.
So, what should one do when experiencing a culture shock?
Experiencing a culture shock after moving from India to the UK is to be expected. You may find yourself feeling low, anxious and irritable, or you may experience a lack in appetite or social confidence. Fret not, however. Psychologists have noted that culture shocks consist of four different phases: honeymoon, frustration, adjustment and acceptance.
Honeymoon: During this euphoric phase, you’ll likely feel positive and very excited about your new surroundings. You’ll enjoy discovering new things, people and places and will feel overwhelmingly upbeat about everything.
Frustration: Once the honeymoon phase is over, you may find yourself getting irritated by things you don’t understand. You might find yourself questioning everything and things may easily frustrate you.
Adjustment: After the irritability phase is over, you’ll find some relief as you adjust to your new surroundings. Slowly but surely, you’ll grow used to the new language, accents and cultures. Eventually, you’ll find yourself identifying your position in your brand new world.
Acceptance: Finally, you’ll discover that the new world you’re inhabiting becomes part of your culture and identity. In addition, you’ll likely find yourself appreciating the small, alien things that you once took for granted.
So, if you’re experiencing a culture shock, hang in there. Don’t deny your irritation of discomfort; remind yourself that these feelings are normal and to be expected.
It may also help the process to learn more about the history and culture of the UK, and talk to as many new people as possible. Find a hobby, participate in community events and don’t be afraid of asking for help.