When moving to another country from Japan or elsewhere there are plenty of things to consider, such as visas, jobs, and how best to ship your belongings, but people often forget about adapting to living in a new country.
Are you moving to the UK from Japan to start fresh? The UK has a host of opportunities available. It is known for its melting pot of cultures, attitudes, food, and nationalities. However, there are some things you need to know before you venture to your new opportunity. This guide will help you to navigate the country and all it has to offer.
The UK is not just England
Often the Japanese media portray the United Kingdom as England, with many people calling the country ‘England’ rather than its actual name Britain, or the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Although most people will not care a whole lot if you mix them up, there are some who will be offended if you call the UK ‘England’.
The UK is known for its often dry and sarcastic sense of humour, humour that may sound harsh in the eyes of Japanese people. Fear not, if somebody says something that sounds harsh to you, the chances are that they are joking with you. This is not to say that the people of the UK are emotionless and harsh, it’s just that sarcasm and irony are a part of British culture and are meant in a good-natured way. You will often hear British people call each other ‘idiot’ and other more harsh words, but I promise that for the most part this is meant in a friendly way that means that they care for one another.
Just like Japan is, Britain is quite a ‘modest’ country, they do not like to sound as though they are ‘blowing their own trumpet’. They consider it quite arrogant, although you should of course be proud of your achievements, it may be a good idea to turn it down a little and to minimise your enthusiasm.
Something that may strike a lot of Japanese people as weird is the time that most shops in the UK close at, retail stores tend to close at around 5:30pm. This may be much earlier than you are used to in Japan, however, supermarkets and of course pubs close much later. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours a day.
The drink culture in the UK is quite a big deal, a drink after work with your colleagues may become a frequent ordeal. If you are not a big drinker then the chances are the UK will have you drinking a lot more as most social occasions involve drinking. However, don’t fear, if you aren’t into drinking, the UK is not all about alcohol.
The British love their television and it has become a British thing to sit and watch the Great British Bake Off while it’s on and discuss it with the rest of the nation on social media, or in person after watching it. There are few shows that bring the British together, but Great British Bake Off and Love Island are two that will help you to socialise in Britain.
We all know how the Brits like to complain about the weather, but we also know that it is brought up a lot in conversation. It is true, British people bring up the weather quite often when starting a conversation, especially when talking to strangers. This is perhaps the same in Japan.
You also need to consider that compared with Japan, weather in the UK changes frequently and often within the space of a few hours. Rain is something that you will need to get used to when you move to the UK, it’s unavoidable.
If you are moving from Japan, you will be interested to know that the UK don’t have an awful lot of public holidays like in Japan. They have Christmas, New Years Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and also there are three Mondays off throughout May and August. However, due to the lack of public holidays, it does tend to mean that you will be given more personal holidays to take at your place of work that you can take whenever you want.
The UK are more class conscious than most other countries, often judging people by their accent on a first meeting. Classism is frequent, especially with the likes of the Scouse and Glaswegian accent being automatically judged as a lower class accent.
Speaking of accents, once again the media portrays British people as all having an upper class English accent, but the accent varies regionally. In fact, there are around 40 regional accents that all sound very different from each other, some you will understand more than others. For example, the East of London accent will be more easily understood than Scouse or Glaswegian. Knowing this will make you less baffled when moving to the UK, perhaps watching some videos of people talking with these accents will help you in understanding them easier.
Travelling by train is much more expensive in the UK than in Japan. This may come as a surprise to most people from Japan and the rest of the world. It is often cheaper to get a flight from London to Edinburgh, than it is to catch a train.
Speaking of travelling, it is a helpful thing to know that in the UK, Brits always thank their bus driver for their journey when hopping off the bus.
Football is a very popular sport in the UK and it is often a talking point that will come up in conversation amongst friends and strangers. It may be a good idea to check the area where you are moving and see what the local teams are, the chances are that you will have two teams in an area that are often seen as rivals. The matches between football rivals are often intense and highly anticipated by football fans.
Try not to worry about your move from Japan to the UK. You will soon pick up on all of the accents, humour, slang, and way of life. Soon you will be sat in your local pub having a pint with some fish and chips with your mates watching live football on the pub television.