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Settling into life in the UK

British Culture

When you first arrive in London, it will likely take some time to feel settled and to get used to your surroundings. British culture may be very different to that of your home country and you will need some time to adapt to various aspects of life in the UK. This is completely normal and can happen even if you have carried out extensive preparations before your arrival or you have travelled a lot previously.

During your first few weeks, you will notice differences between the way things are done in the UK and what you are used to at home. With this in mind, GB Mag has put together a handy guide to British etiquette to help you feel at home as quickly as possible.

Education UK has also put together some top etiquette tips as written by students – take a look and see what they suggest from their experiences in the UK!

Culture Shock

'Culture shock', moving from a familiar culture to one you are unfamiliar with, can affect anyone and is quite normal.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides information on common ways that culture shock may affect you and what you can do to help yourself adjust to your new life in the UK.

If you are experiencing culture shock, there are various things that you can do to try to minimise the effects and a range of support services you can access. Please see the suggestions below:

  • Reassure yourself that what you are experiencing is normal.
  • Ensure that you keep in touch with your friends and family back at home.
  • Have familiar things around you that have personal meaning, such as photographs or ornaments.
  • Try to find a supplier of familiar food if you can and eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Learn to factor regular exercise into your everyday routine.
  • Links with a faith community can be helpful to some students. UCL has a multi-faith chaplaincy and students of all faiths or none are welcomed for pastoral and social activities.
  • Maintain contact with your own ethnic group and also with local students if possible.
  • Be prepared to take the first step and find activities which will give you a common interest with UK students.
  • Check out what is going on at the UCL Students' Union (UCLU) and its societies. 
  • Take time to find out what services the University offers, for example, your personal tutor, the International Student Orientation programme, information/support from International Student Support team, hall wardens, Ridgmount Practice, and other support services. Even if at home you wouldn’t consider such steps, in the UK it is normal and may be of help when familiar support is missing.
  • If you feel upset, look for help. There is always someone or some service available to help you. Check out the resources on the right hand side of this page.