Supawadee Jing Pongwisaitat
MSc Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Practice, Lancaster University, UK.
Things I should have known the day I landed in England.
I love travelling, it is my passion; that is the main reason why I chose to study abroad to pursue my Master degree in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Practice from Lancaster University. Living in the UK is one thing I have never felt any regret about.
My name is Jing, I am from Bangkok, Thailand. Although I have lived in many different places in the past including the USA, Hong Kong and China, living in the UK is by far the most unique experience for me. Why? It was my first time travelling to Europe and I have noticed many cultural differences from other continents, especially the distinction between Asian countries. Let me tell you my story and the very British things I have encountered.
I still remember the first day I stepped out of Manchester Airport and trying to figure out how to catch the right train to Lancaster, it was around the end of September 2015, when the weather had started to get colder and windier; well all the normal signs of Autumn. The first thing I noticed about this country was that it rains a lot, literally. I opened my umbrella that I bought from Thailand which then immediately broke due to the heavy rain and wind. This was the first thing I had learned, that it rains a lot of the time and that Thai umbrellas are not designed to tolerate British weather.
British people are very polite and seem very concerned about manners. For instance, when using the crossroads, it is important to wave your hands and put on a smile to show that you are grateful as well as apologetic for causing any trouble. There are many words for thank you such as “cheers” and “ta”. It is natural for them to end their greeting with “you alright?”, for me, this shows how friendly and caring they are towards others. Also, they often end their sentence with “mate” as if you are already friends with them which really impresses me.
One of my British friends once asked me if I have already eaten tea, I was confused I did not know tea was edible, I had always known it as a drink. However, it turned out to my surprise that it is just another way of asking if you have already had dinner, that’s very British indeed. Speaking of tea, the Brits love drinking tea, a lot. They pay so much attention to their tea, which I have come to learn that the Northerners refer to as a “brew”. It is the tradition and culture that has been embedded throughout generations. They also love going to the pubs with classic beers from the tap where they come to chill with friends; it would not be that easy to find this kind of atmosphere in Thailand.
I guess what I found interesting about England is that most shops have an early closing time (in Thailand, there are many 24/7 shops), so I had some difficulties in adjusting to it at first. Also, shops close super early on Sunday as well as opening a little later than usual, this is the total opposite to Thailand and many other Asian countries.
All in all, these are just some examples of spending a year of my life living in the UK. There were definitely both ups and downs along my journey, but the friendships I have made from this experience will surely prove to be invaluable, unmeasurable and permanent.