Six things I still don’t understand about Britain

After over a year of living in the UK, Miruna Rapeanu still has some questions that need answering

Miruna Rapeanu

So many questionsVaughn Leiberum

As an international student, I was fully expecting cultural shock to hit me like a speeding U Bus when coming to Cambridge. What I was not expecting, however, is to never truly recover from the shock. Yet, after one year and a bit of living amongst British people, eating their food and interacting with them on the daily, I am still unable to understand some of the traits that seem to define them as a nation.

Talking about the weather
Before coming here, I thought the special relationship British people have with the weather is just another stereotype. Here I am, one year later, talking about how likely it is to rain with friends, colleagues, supervisors, cashiers and our domestic bursar’s golden retriever. The weather is debated in all its truly fascinating details every day and nothing is left untouched: air humidity, temperature at various points during the day and probability of snowing in the next two decades, they are all of utmost importance. What makes it even weirder is that no one seems to be able to feel the cold in this country. Why endlessly talk about the ever-changing weather if you’re immune to its effects?

Let me clarify that I understand what an accent is. We have a few different ones back home and can kind of differentiate between them. What we can’t do, though, is know every city someone has lived in just by hearing them speak to us for 10 seconds, which Brits do effortlessly. And, even if we manage to guess the general place someone is from, we tend not to get in… friendly ribbing about which region is clearly superior for an hour afterwards. We also tend not to bring historic arguments, famous people, sports teams and local insults into play in such discussions. Maybe we are the weird ones here and regional pride is just a way to preserve national heritage. One question remains: how does an island end up with 1000 different and apparently distinguishable accents?

Why are there so many?!?!Ricjl

Politeness and passive-aggressive(ness?)
I get that some people are particularly polite. And I get that some people are passive aggressive by nature. What I don’t get, though, is how Brits can be both at the same time. And, furthermore, which one is the true feeling and which one merely a rendition meant to adapt the speaker’s ideas to social circumstances? Is a cyclist bumping into you saying “Sorry” as in “I sincerely regret causing you discomfort” or as in “I resent the fact that you existed in this particular place at this particular time solely to inconvenience me”? I will never really know.

Whether they want to drink Jagger bombs until they forget the pains of existence (and essay deadlines), relax with a cup of tea in the afternoon or have a greasy lunch, Brits manage to always end up in a pub. The pub is there when someone is born or when someone dies. The pub is there when you are happy, sad, ready to celebrate or tired. The pub understands. As such, it is apparently easy for locals to forget the other 15 types of establishments every town has. The mystery for me is why people would rather spend 4 days a week in Wetherspoons instead of seeing a movie, visiting a museum or simply taking a walk on Jesus Green.

Why would you spend your time here instead of actually doing stuff?Rept0n1x

Two taps instead of one
I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that even some British people fail to understand the thought process behind having sinks with two taps in 2018 AD. Why would anyone want to only choose between having their cheeks, throat and brain frozen whenever they brush their teeth and getting second-degree burns that leave them foaming at the mouth? Your guess is as good as mine.

It might be that my tastes are not refined enough, but whenever I enter my college’s hall, I can’t help but feel that British food is either Chinese food, Indian food or a random combination of potatoes and meat. I don’t get how Brits have managed to steal some international recipes and cook them to an acceptable level, but they haven’t managed to develop any dishes of their own. And no, fish and fries don’t count. And no, I will not call fries “chips”. I can’t understand why you people do that.