Quick Guide To The United Kingdom
This some gerneral advice to help people who have never travelled to the UK before. It is meant only as a guideline and should not be used as a firm rule. If you are a RUYANG International Guardian Service & Educational Consultancy Ltd. student, you will receive a full package before you leave your home with all the information including maps and brochures of thing to do in all major cities and of your area near your school.
- The UK is located in north Western Europe.
- The capital city of the UK is London; other major cities include Birmingham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Sheffield.
- The population of the UK is about 65 million.
- The currency is the British Pound.
- The UK’s main trading partners are the EU (mostly, Germany, France and Holland) and the U.S.
- Climate is temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than half of the days are overcast or cloudy. Summer temperatures can reach over 30ºC, and Winter can bring freezing weather.
- The official language is English.
- The main religion in the UK is Anglican followed by Roman Catholic.
- Sports are popular here, especially football, rugby and golf.
- Kent in Southeast England is only 35 km from France and is now linked by tunnel under the English Channel.
- If you are under 18, it is polite to wait until you have been given permission before using an adult’s first name.
- When you are on a first name basis with someone, make an effort not to repeat his or her name in a conversation.
- Use of first names is becoming prevalent in newer industries.
- Courtesy titles such as “Sir” or “Madam” are usually regarded as inadequate. Except in the case of Schools, where all students should refer to teachers as ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’.
- When meeting a man for the first time, a handshake is an appropriate greeting, remembering to always use your right hand.
- Smiling or nodding is a sufficient greeting for people you see on a daily basis.
- Generally, the English prefer to be introduced by someone else whenever possible.
- When talking, make an effort to keep your hands to your sides and out of your pockets.
- Speak in a moderate tone and avoid shouting or talking too loudly.
- Physical contact between strangers is not acceptable.
- Maintain a wide distance between people when in conversation.
- Do not use the expression “Have a nice day”, as this is not a British phrase and is generally frowned upon.
- Queuing, or standing in line, is quite acceptable here. The British do not push or shove, and queues are always joined at the back – never join in front of someone else.
- Maintaining eye contact is necessary, especially when you are trying to make a point.
- Emotional displays, whether negative or positive, especially in public places, are generally discouraged.
- Never, ever, make noise with your mouth as you eat. Although it may be acceptable to ‘slurp’ in some cultures, this is one of the worst mistakes to make in the UK.
- Become familiar with the different knives and forks used at the dinner table. Generally, they are used from the ‘outside – in’, so the first course will use the smaller ones that are furthest from the plate.
- It is not necessary to finish all the food on the plate.
- In a restaurant, a small tip of 10% is acceptable. This is often included in the bill.
Attending Independent School in the UK, not including Day Schools, means the possibility of travel.
Flying is the most obvious way to travel to the UK. Fares can vary dramatically so the best advice is to shop around and be flexible about dates and airlines. In particular students, young travellers and seniors should be able to get special deals and discounts. Prices are generally a bit lower if you travel during the week. Peak season is from about May to October and this is when fares will be most pricey with the most expensive months from June to September. Fares will probably also be very high (and flights booked out in advance) over Christmas and New Year.
The busiest and most popular airports are Heathrow and Gatwick, both in London. But if you are not visiting London you might try some of the other airports in the UK, which handle international flights, such as Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow. You could always travel to the UK by ship, arriving in the UK in style, without the hassle of jet lag, but any long distance journey by ship will be very lengthy and, of course, quite expensive compared to flying.
Another way to get to the UK by water is to travel by ferry. Crossings are very extensive and are a great way to travel to the UK if you wish to bring your own car. Prices vary enormously as ferry fares can change according to time of year, time of day you want to travel and even the size of your car – so you will need to so some careful research to find a good price. And remember that during peak season you will need to book a place for your car in advance.
If you are not travelling from too far away, you might want to consider other options. For example you can travel to the United Kingdom by bus from many European cities, which is a great low cost option if you won’t be travelling too far. However, flights are now priced so competitively that if your journey is a long one by coach, you will probably want to choose the comfort and speed of flying with a budget airline.
If you wish to travel by car, your biggest problem will be crossing the English Channel. There are a variety of ways to do this, for example ferry, hovercraft and now the Channel Tunnel. All have regular services, normally with several crossings each day, so shop around and choose the one that suits you best.
There are also some hovercraft or Sea Cat services that cross the Channel between Dover and Calais. These are very quick and can do the journey in less than an hour, cutting your travelling time considerably. They are also very competitively priced.
The Channel Tunnel now gives you even more options. Drivers can take Le Shuttle, which is another very speedy way to cross the English Channel. It is also quite competitively priced, being comparable to ferry fares, and there are often discounts and special offers available.
Meanwhile, foot passengers can take Eurostar trains from Paris, Brussels or Lille, to London. Again, prices can be very competitive with regular discounts and promotions.
Please note: If you are travelling by train, the rail system in the UK is quite independent from the rest of Europe and so some continental rail passes, for example Eurail, are not valid in Britain.