What You Need to Know to Be a True Londoner

Emily Morales is a student at California State University, Northridge and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She interned abroad with ISA Internships in London, England.

1) Obviously, the weather!

Brits love their good weather (as do Californians). Unfortunately, unlike California, sunny weather in London doesn’t come as often, and when it does the British love to soak it in! During one of the lunchtimes at my internship, my co-workers peeked around their computer to witness a bright ray of light gleam through our office window. With excited faces, they couldn’t wait for lunch time when we all went outside by the canal and enjoyed the beautiful day! Brits will rave about good weather and find any excuse to bathe in the sunlight. As a Californian, I couldn’t agree more.

2) Nothing beats a British park

Living next to a park here in London, I can confirm that they are literally the greenest, most beautiful parks you’ll see. With huge fields of ponds, roses, bushes, and fresh grass, the parks in Britain are one for the books. On a good day, you’ll find many people here riding bikes, taking a jog, having a picnic, playing “football,” or simply strolling on the sidewalk. It’s a must to visit a park where you will find peace and tranquility in the middle of the city of London.

This park, Regent's Park, is right outside my flat! It was a beautiful day for a walk.
This park, Regent’s Park, is right outside my flat! It was a beautiful day for a walk.
Admiring my surroundings in Hyde Park underneath a womping Willow tree!
Admiring my surroundings in Hyde Park underneath a womping Willow tree!

3) You’ll never find a culture more informed about the world than the British.

In every tube station you take around London, guaranteed you will find at least one person, if not more, at any time of the day with a newspaper in hand, reading the most current news. The Brits pride themselves in knowing what’s going on around the world and can more than likely talk to you about any topic! So be prepared and informed with facts before you launch into any political or social discussion with a Brit.

4) Need to get from Shoreditch to Oxford Circus—No problem!

Probably the best public transportation I have ever come across—the Tube! This underground transportation system can get you from Point A to Point B so easily, you will not want to drive again! Being from California and so dependent on my car to get around, it has been quite an adjustment. But the Tube beats dealing with bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to a place only two miles away!

5) Expect to Buy Groceries every couple days.

Sorry guys, you will not find a Costco or Walmart in London, meaning say goodbye to overloaded shopping carts that could usually last you two weeks. Once you find your local Tescos or Sainsbury’s, you will only have a hand grocery basket that you can only fill up for three days worth of groceries before it gets too heavy to carry. And when you’re tired of the grocery store, go to your local farmer’s market to buy fresh fruits, veggies, meat, and fish!

6) Safety feels different

Although bigger cities are usually more accessible to crime, the Brits must feel confident about their local force because you will not be able to carry around a taser gun unless you have a permit, as it is considered a firearm. Pepper spray? Nope. This New York Times article mentions that in England, only about one out of every million people die in gun homicides each year – about as often as an American dies in an agricultural accident or falling from a ladder. Just some food for thought.

7) The best place to hang out with co-workers after work is at the Pubs!

You’ll know you have become a true workingwoman in London when your co-workers ask if you want a “pint” after work. From 6 to 8PM, the pubs are packed with fellow co-workers, socializing and enjoying the usual banter. If you ever end up interning in England, make sure you go to a local pub with your co-workers and experience the rapport-building outside of the office!

8) Cultural Acceptance is the norm

London, with more that 300 languages spoken from virtually any race, nation, culture, and religion in the world, is great for being a place of wide acceptance and love for any person of any race, gender, sexual orientation, and culture because of its wide spread cultural diversity. Although I would say that California is as diverse and accepting, Londoners clearly aren’t afraid to branch out and make friendships and relationships with just about anyone. No judgments whatsoever! Acceptance is the practice!

9) Learn the British Slang

Although there is no language barrier between America and England, you will definitely be scratching your head over a couple phrases and words. “Proper,” “Love,” “Cheers!” “Bruvv,” and “Brilliant!” are a few of the many words you’ll hear on the daily basis. More likely than not you will also be greeted by a Brit with, “Are you alright?” Don’t worry, they don’t think you’re troubled or anything, it simply means, “How are you?” Likewise, they will look at you funny when you say, “Cool, dude,” “For sure,” and “Totally” all the time.

10) Food Food Food!

If you’re like me, trying new food is a must. Go to every market you can find, which are plenty—from Camden market, to Portobello, and especially the Borough market—you will be able to find all types of food and taste test anything you are hesitant about. Markets are ideal shopping destinations to get anything from fresh fruits & vegetables, meat, and seafood to flowers, art, and clothes where I am sure you will find a lot of bargains. When in England, make sure you have the traditional fish n’ chips, Indian food, and find your local Nandos and Monmouth coffee!

Some tasty Thai food from Camden Market!
Some tasty Thai food from Camden Market!
Wrapped Greek topped with "chips" from Portobello Market!
Wrapped Greek topped with “chips” from Portobello Market!

Now that you’ve got the facts straight, book your one-way ticket to England and apply your knowledge! You may even be mistaken for a Londoner yourself :)

Cheers mate!

The world awaits…discover it.

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