10 Things I Hate About the UK

Having visited  many the U.K. and Europe many times while growing up (I have family on both sides of the Atlantic), I’ve always just visited as a tourist. Of course, visiting a country is vastly different than actually legit living there. My only experience having lived in the U.K. before this was a brief hiatus in which I’d moved here for a few months to recover from a long 8 month backpacking trip to South Asia.

Having actually lived in England for the last 7 months in the country’s third largest city has given me a whole new perspective on what it’s really like living in the U.K. Previously I’d lived in the South near Cambridge, and the accent in the South is significantly different than what I’ve been exposed to in the North of England, which has it’s own distinct language, so to speak. At times I have to listen twice just to understand what some of the people are saying up in Yorkshire, since it is sometimes hard for me to follow with all the slang words I’ve never heard before. I’m still trying to pick up on their various slangs up in the North of England, such as saying “Taa” instead of Thank you. There are times when I hear people speaking and even though they are speaking slower than my fast-talking Eastcoast American accent, I still have difficulty understanding what they’re saying at times, which can be humorous and frustrating at the same time. Who would have thought that living in another English speaking country could cause more of a language barrier than living in Vietnam (OK maybe I’m exaggerating that one just a bit).

So, without further hesitation I’ll give you my honest thoughts on the very real struggles, frustrations, and culture shock I’ve experienced since moving to England. Having previously lived in Vietnam for six months, and having travelled extensively in India and other South Asian countries, I know all about what it’s like to experience real culture shock. I didn’t think that moving to another English speaking country would be so much of a culture shock – But I was dead wrong…

 

Cold, Unfriendly People

 

This saying rings far and wide for most of the U.K., and it seems people would rather drink their own pee than show any emotion! The British are overly reserved and formal. It really takes a lot to get a smile out of anyone here. This has made the majority of my social interactions in the U.K. extremely depressing. Yeah, people might call Americans overly friendly and superficial even. But I’d take a smiling talkative American over a stiff upper lip, too good to make conversation with you person any day of the week.

In the U.S. I was met with smiles all the time, even in a city as rude as Miami. It’s like there’s an air of gloom and pessimism wherever I go here, and it’s really starting to get me down. I don’t know why but everyone just looks so unhappy. To make matters worse for foreigners coming here, no one even seems to want to know anything about you. I find it’s world’s easier to meet new friends in the states. Over here it’s like people just stick to their university cliques, and never seem to welcome new people or outsiders.

 

 

The English so much in their own little bubble, that it’s hard to even ask strangers on the street for directions. It’s like they do every little thing possible to avoid human interaction, and would rather shape shift past you then just say a simple “Excuse me” to avoid sounding impolite. Seriously ladies and bros, just brush past me and say excuse me, or don’t say excuse me at all, since I won’t really care if you’re trying to get by me and happen to brush against me. I promise I don’t bite!

 

 

The Awful Weather

 

Now, I know everyone out here, including family and friends told me that the weather is shit (Or shite as they say up here in Yorkshire) and that it’s never hot enough in the summers, it’s too windy, and there is no sun most of the year. At first I thought woah wait a minute, there has to be some sunshine in the summer, right? Well, a week or two, maybe.

My experience so far having now seen two summers in the U.K. has been that you might get only an hour or two of actual sunshine on an average summer day from May-August, but the rest of the day it will be cloudy, cold, and grey. Yes, in the SUMMER FREAKING TIME. How does that even happen? Now I am at least grateful that the winters are relatively mild here, especially compared to Nebraska where I grew up. But at least in Midwest America, even in the dead of winter the sun still came out every day.

 

 

Another issue I have with the total lack of sun out here is how pale and pasty I started becoming, and fast. It felt so unhealthy, and I started getting skin problems I didn’t used to have when living in a tropical environment. I had to use extra moisturizer and the few days so far this year where the sun was actually out for more than 2 hours, I basked in it all day and got super burned.But it felt much needed, almost like getting baptized even. It’s a horrible feeling not having what all us humans need – the sun.

So yes, the stereotyps about British weather is true – The weather here is brutal, not so much because it gets too cold in winter, but because the sun just don’t shine.

 

The Smells

 

England is a very OLD country, and the plumbing systems here sometimes date back to the early 1800s. For some strange reason (And maybe I’m the only one who notices this, but I think not), whenever I walk down the streets I tend to get a whiff of what smells like rotting garbage, or a horrendous backed up sewage smell.

 

The Great Stank

I’m not sure if there’s something going on beneath the ground, but either way these horrible smells hit me in almost every part of the country I travel to, and I can’t help but want to just wear a gas mask every time I walk around here. It truly stinks! In Vietnam and India I had to wear a mask to protect myself from the pollution, but England? This is a developed country, but it smells wherever I go…

 

 

The Backwardness

 

Almost everything in the U.K. seems to be highly dysfunctional, from the way the plumbing systems are set up, to the roads to the structure of the houses. An example of this is the dreaded sink with two faucets, one for scalding hot water and other for freezing ice cold water. Whoever invented this must have been seriously sadistic, since it seems like you can’t use these types of sinks without either burning or freezing your skin off.

I have one of these sinks in my flat at the moment and it’s horrendous. I try and wash my face in the morning and either scald my skin or it’s way too cold. The water in the U.K. is either way too hot or way too cold, never in between. Not to mention the hard water that’s everywhere here. Hard water is super gross and is filled with mineral deposits that leaves a sticky greasy film on your hair, which is why a lot of people’s hair in the U.K. looks greasy and dull.

 

 

 

It might look like they’re wearing hair product, but really it’s the mineral deposits in the nasty hard water here that build up in their hair. Gross, right?

In the states I was used to soft water that felt super amazing on my skin, especially the water in FL. Out here the water has caused all kinds of issues with my hair and left it a dull mess. Not to mention all the skin issues I’ve had since using the hard water here. The hard water also builds up in the sinks and attracts bacteria and scum, so sometimes when I turn on the faucet I smell a horrible sewage stench and see black slime and grime dripping out of the faucet. Fun stuff, right? Luckily there are some cures for this grimy hair (Lemon and vinegar rinses and rinsing with spring water versus your shower). In the U.K. you NEVER get what you pay for. Even if your apartment is so called renovated and modernized. I guarantee you you’ll probably still suffer from the grimy sinks and hard water. It’s just an inevitable in this country.

 

No Customer Service

 

Unfortunately, customer service is a foreign concept in the U.K. If you’re just standing there and present at your job, even if you’re making f*ckall effort, it’s considered “good” customer service here. Not to mention, in British culture it’s seen as “childish” to complain, so no one here complains about anything, ever.

I’ve even heard of people say they won’t make the cashier take off an item they’ve rung up, even if it was the wrong item! This is in stark contrast to the excellent customer service I get wherever I go in America. In England, people just have much lower expectations for customer service than Americans do, and much higher tolerance for crap service. Most of the venues I go to here, whether it’s a pub, restaurant, or nightclub, is poorly managed with the worst customer service. The floors are usually sticky, the waiters and bar staff barely pay you any notice because they are too busy talking amongst each other, and if you ask them for anything ever they usually just roll their eyes and act like they’re doing you a favor just for doing the job they’re getting paid to do.

 

 

They just seem to accept anything out here, even if the person blatantly f*cks up their job or is obviously incompetent. It’s as if the more sorries you say, and more overly polite you are, the more praise you get, even if you’re horrible at your job. About the most customer service I get when I approach a bar in England is someone shouting at me with a disgruntled look “YAAA’LRIGHT?!!?” instead of a normal, “Hi how are you? What can I get for you?” Nope, never heard that phrase once in England..

 

 

The Lack of Space

 

In the U.S. we’re used to big everything. Big homes, big backyards, huge gardens, and wide open spaces. Since England is obviously much smaller, there’s just simply not enough space to go around.

Everything is so small in these apartments and houses. The staircase in my house is so narrow I can’t turn around. It’s so hard to navigate around these houses without bumping my head on something or knocking something over. It really makes me miss and appreciate all the free space I had back home.

 

Tiny houses in England

 

The roads here are also ridiculously narrow, they’re smaller than just one lane in the States. So if a car is driving down a road here, they literally have to stop and pull over and give way to the other car coming from the opposite direction, since there’s just simply not enough space on the road for two cars. Not to mention the fact that I literally cannot walk down a sidewalk here next to other people, there’s simply not enough room to do that, since most likely I’ll either knock into them or a garbage bin in front one of the tiny houses.

 

It’s Inconvenient

 

Now, I do admit I come from a country built on convenience. The U.S. is extremely convenient. Anything you want, you can find, at any hour of the night. Not so much in England.

You won’t find hardly anything open during the week past 5PM. This is really backwards in my opinion, since most people work 8-5 during the week, so how are they supposed to get anything done such as shopping if the shops all close at 5 when they get out of work? To make matters even worse, if you show up 15 minutes before the shop closes, they’ll kick you out even though it isn’t even closing time, which I find to be utter bullshit, since why does your sign say you’re open until a certain time, but then you kick the customers out before you’re even closed? Fucking rude.

It’s also hard finding any decent nightclubs, since most English people seem to be stuck in the 80s and their idea of a good night out is listening to the shittiest re-runs of the 80s mixed with Top 10 annoying pop songs, and over drinking to the point of blacking out. This is definitely not my style of partying.

In Miami I was used to upscale nightclubs, with the ambience to match. In Leeds, about the most ambient I can find is a restaurant/bar in the mall that only stays open until just 1AM. Most of the places to go out here are sub par, have sticky floors, horrible mind numbing music, rude bouncers that won’t let pretty girls in the VIP, have stinky toilets with people puking all over the place, and smell inside. Even in London when I would go out, the bouncers were rude, acting like they were doing you a favour letting you into their shitty club. All of the hype about a certain club in London, only to find out it closes too early, and not only that but is playing lame music that makes me just want to walk out the second I walk inside. I could never find anything, even in London, the capitol freaking city, open past 2AM even on a WEEKEND night. In Florida, I didn’t even start getting ready for a night out until around midnight, then I’d be good to go at 1AM when everything was still open and poppin’. It leaves me to the suspicions that most Britons are probably already smashed by 5PM and just want to go home by then.

The way the UK does things regarding communication is from the stone ages. Why do you want to send me a letter out in the post three times to send me information about an appointment with my GP, when all of this could be done via text or online? It seems they would rather and would rather send a letter using an owl than just freaking text you someone’s contact details. UGH.

Also, taxi drivers, please STOP asking me where I’m going when I get in your car. I’ve already given you my destination in the app, not to mention you’re the driver so you should know where to go…

 

Passive Communication

 

I feel often times I need to tone myself down just to communicate with people, since British people are anything but straightforward with you. Now, I do appreciate the sarcasm and ironic banter and jokes which I never get to hear back in the States, since it seems Americans take themselves way too seriously and don’t understand irony or sarcastic jokes, or what Brits called “Taking the piss”.

My issue is that people here just need to grow some cajones. I mean seriously, you Brits are just way too overpolite and don’t say what you mean. I mean literally I will be having a conversation with someone and will go on and on about a topic and talk for 10 minutes when they could have told me what they needed to say in under 5 minutes. I don’t know why, but there’s a lot of beating around the bush with the communication. No one is direct and everyone just wants to just keep the peace to avoid any confrontation.

I’ve found at times I’ve had to try not to sound too direct, since it seems like directness isn’t really British people’s cup of tea (No pun intended). In a way this can serve as an advantage as an American, since it allows you to be able to take the reigns and assert yourself more easily around a bunch of passivity. But at the same time, it can scare people off since they aren’t used to such directness.

I also find it especially annoying when British men talk in such a feminine and indirect way. Also the accent definitely makes them sound even more feminine, which for me is a huge turnoff. It’s also a big turnoff whenever I go out and the men will be standing around sipping their drinks quietly but not have the cajones to strike a conversation with me. Instead they just stare at me from afar, hoping something will happen. Take some control, guys! The ladies love it, especially your transatlantic chics.

 

The NHS Sucks

 

What’s wrong with waiting 8 months just to see a Specialist? Oh, but first you have to get a referral from your GP, which by the way it will take 2 months to see your GP, since they’re all booked up. Sound familiar? Welcome to the NHS, ladies and gents. You might as well buy a private insurance policy when you come to the UK, since whatever ailment you were having at the time will be gone by the time you can get seen by a doctor in the NHS.

Oh, and if you’re ever unlucky enough to set foot in one of Englands “infirmaries,” beware you will be entering a chaotic, grimy, depressing unhygienic hospital with nurses dressed like they are from the 1930s in all white uniforms with the white hats to match. I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve met in person who got sick from mistakes made by NHS doctors. I myself was misdiagnosed by a doctor from the NHS, and had to suffer plenty because of their incompetence. The incompetence, lack of training, and lack of funds in this system spell nothing but misery and hell for the patients. I’ll take private insurance any day over this joke.

Here you can read some of the countless NHS horror stories.

 

The Dating Scene is Deplorable

 

It just seems that the men here are just totally inconsiderate of the female species. Not only do they act super full of themselves for no good reason, but they also speak in a very passive manner which is a stark contrast to what I was used to in Miami, where men have to in a way prove their machoness. I think as a woman I like to see a man take the reigns and that is why I’ve come to the conclusion I will never settle down with a British man.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Don’t forget you can like and share my article with the social media links. I’d love to keep giving you travel tips and advice, so feel free to follow me by clicking the Follow Box below. And don’t forget you can also follow me on Facebook and Youtube and Twitter!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Dale Ryan says:

    As much as I can relate and agree with a few of your statements here, I’m afraid I’d have to call bulls#*! On most of them.
    You wonder why British people are so miserable and then agree that British weather is shit… most British people are miserable for that simple fact alone.
    I don’t disagree with all you have written I just find it rude that you would slate a country and it’s people, a country in which you were a guest.
    You have made yourself sound like an over privileged American and if you attitude in person is anything close to your attempt at writing this blog entry, it’s no wonder men don’t approach you.

    I’m sure America has lots of space for you and the massive chip on your shoulder…
    see ya later! 👋🏼

    1. Hi Dale,

      Which points are you in agreement on?

      I do think it’s more than just the weather, it’s a deeply ingrained cultural aspect here to act smug and anti social, it seems.

      And being half British myself, I can attest as I’ve lived in both countries and can honestly say it’s always been a disappoint for me socially in this country. And I am not a guest, I am British by birth and have always been coming back and forth between the UK and the states.

      I am not acting stuck up, I am simply saying it could be a lot better if people’s attitudes changed a bit, there’s a very “I can’t” attitude in this country and it has to do with the UK and Europe in general having a more pessismistic attitude which I don’t appreciate.

      It seems the opposite actually, that British people are the ones with the chip as they can’t seem to muster a hello or execute basic social strategies in any given environment, it’s always some fickle over politeness and no questions asked.

      -Blossom

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