Things International Students Find Strange in British Accommodation
Things International Students Find Strange in British Accommodation
By Simon Thompson
To a number of international students, coming to the UK may be the first experience of living away from home and settling down in a different culture. They can find differences between the British way of life and that of their origin, from the way people speak and dress to how they behave and what they value. This blog post taps into international students’ common observations and first experiences with British housing, drawing on specific examples of mine and my friends.
Two separate taps
Not until a wartime visit to Moscow in 1942 had Winston Churchill been ‘enlightened’ by modern technology of hot and cold water flowing from the same faucet. However, separate taps are still pretty popular in British bathrooms nowadays. Several foreigners are quite obsessed by not being able to control the desired water temperature and hence there have been some brilliant tricks of trying to combine the two.
Helping to preserve the environment is important in British daily life, or at least that is what city councils encourage citizens to do. Quite often, there are two types of bins with different coloured lids in every household; one for cardboard and newspapers, and another for plastics and glass. There is also a third bin for compost. When you first move in, have a look at the recycling schedule to check when to leave out which bins for collection.
The Brits often wash the dishes in a washing up bowl by soaking them in hot water dissolved with washing up liquid without rinsing off the soap suds. I used to wonder whether it would be similarly clean if people brush their teeth but can’t be bothered to rinse off the toothpaste. However, some can see this as a water-saving means and a habit developed from the lack of double sinks.
The power supply in Britain is 230/240 volts. Unlike continental Europe and America, sockets accept only three-(square)-pin plugs. A transformer is also needed for appliances operating on 110-120 volts.
Flatmates or housemates rather than roommates
You share a flat or a house with flatmates or housemates, respectively. It is less common for unrelated people to share a bedroom whereas in the US, this is a distinctive experience of college life.
You may find yourself bombarded with TV licence letters in your accommodation even if you don’t own a telly. This is because if you watch any TV live, you’ll need to be covered by a TV licence, no matter which device you use.
Nevertheless, a lot of international students don’t see the necessity of getting a licence, especially if they download music, films, and TV shows for free in their home country.
And the list goes on. Have you personally observed any other interesting items or different habits of the Brits in your accommodation?
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