The British Truth: English vs. English – Do You See the Difference?

Deanna Gorman is a student at Luther College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Deanna is currently studying abroad program in London on an ISA Fall 4 program.

Howth Coastal Cliffs

After taking a week off from blogging to travel to Ireland for holiday, I am back with a special post about some of the differences in culture, language, and food between London and the US. I will also insert a few fun photos from my trip to Ireland.


There are several cultural differences that I have had to adjust since arriving to Heathrow and even after almost 2 months, I have still not mastered them all. When walking the streets and traveling on the tube, I have noticed that strangers are not as open towards one another. There is minimal eye contact and if you do happen to make eye contact, you will rarely receive a friendly smile in return as I usually do in Wisconsin. For the first couple days, when I would smile at strangers on the tube or street they would look away quickly or have a confused look on their face. Now I try to avoid eye contact because it seems to make others uncomfortable, but if I do by accident, I still smile to be polite. Another thing I have struggled with is tipping. In the States we seem to tip everyone: waitresses, bartenders, hairdressers, etc. I have only been to a handful of restaurants where I actually tipped and even then it was not the normal 15% that is expected in the states. It was much lower closer to 8-10%.

On the bus to Galway, Ireland!


Although observing and learning the cultural differences, I enjoy the language and vocabulary inconsistencies better. I think I have figured out that the differences in pronunciation are all in the vowels. They say their vowels much classier than us Americans to begin with but then when you add my Wisconsin accent on top of that, forget it! Their placement of syllable stress is also different and quite humorous with some words. For example, garage. We stress the second syllable so where they stress the first syllable (so it rhymes with carriage). At first I don’t recognize the word but once I do it sounds so funny that I have to laugh. Here are some other word pairs and phrases that are completely different…

Lori = semi-truck

Perambulator = baby stroller

Vest = tank top

Lolly = sucker

Pratt = braid (like for a girl’s hair)

Queue = line

Cheers = Thank you

Proper = real

Ring (on the telephone) = call

Telly = TV

Birdie = girl

Blok = guy

Take away = take out

I can’t be bothered/ asked = I didn’t want to do it

Out of order = Uncalled for

Chips = French fries

Crisps = chips

Jelly = Jello

These new additions to my vocabulary felt very strange on my tongue at first but they are growing on me and I hope to bring a few back with me to the States.


Although I have not been as adventurous as I would like with the food here, I have noticed that they don’t emphasize taste and flavor as much as they do in the States. Everything is a little bit blah compared to their American counterparts. There are some traditional dishes here that EVERYONE who comes to England needs to try. Just to name a few…. Shepard’s Pie, Bangers & Mash, English Breakfast Tea, Traditional English Breakfast, Kebabs, and of course Fish & Chips!!!

Differences make any experience new and exciting, especially when you have an open and eager mind. The fun part is that sometime we are as foreign to them as they are to us. It is a two-way street and sometimes I forget that we teach them as much as they teach us. Cheers!

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