5 Shocking Things I Learned on My Trip to England

I recently spent three long weeks in England training for a new job.  I hung out with all sorts of different folks in the UK, traveling from Stafford to London to Manchester.

Sure the accents changed a bit, but the overall warm, friendly personalities pervaded throughout. There were a number of key things, however, that took me by surprise. Things that are completely normal for Brits, but would have us Americans scratching our heads.

I’m not just talking about driving on the wrong side of the road or constantly needing an umbrella. Uh uh, these are much more important and shocking issues.

What exactly am I talking about? Take a look!

Baked Beans for Breakfast – I don’t get it. Baked beans are a breakfast staple for most of Britain. Not one to be rude, I tried it one morning. I still don’t get it.

England Food
Order a “Full English” and you’ll get bacon, sausage, eggs, baked beans, hash browns, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes.

Britain Hates Traffic Lights
– In my three weeks abroad, I must’ve seen a total of maybe six traffic lights. Okay, that’s probably a slight exaggeration, but England is really not a fan of traffic lights. Instead, they use roundabouts (i.e. traffic circles) just about everywhere. And you thought it’d be easy merely driving on the wrong side of the road…

Stafford England
Yes, traffic in a roundabout goes clockwise, not counterclockwise like here in the States.

Teaspoons Are Only for Tea – We all know Brits love their tea. It’s true! And they have the cutest li’l teaspoons for them. But when it comes to regular spoons for a meal, well the only kind I ever found were large tablespoons. Made for an interesting time eating yogurt in a small cup.

Brits call this “cutlery,” not silverware.

Gas is Expensive – I mean REALLY expensive. Right now in New Jersey, I recently paid about $2.25 per gallon. Here in Stafford, England, I passed a Shell station that was charging 111.9. But wait, that’s in British Pounds, not dollars. So let’s use 1.6% as the rate, bringing the price to roughly $1.79 per gallon. Oh wait, sorry, that’s not per gallon, it’s per liter. With 4 liters to a gallon, that equates to $7.16 per gallon. Ouch.

Stafford England
Now you know why most cars are compacts over in the UK.

They Eat Walking Dead Potato Chips – Okay, so maybe Lay’s UK brand is called Walkers, but that still didn’t stop me from freaking out every time I grabbed a bag of chips… I mean “crisps.”

They have crazy cool flavors in the UK, like this Prawn Cocktail, which… uh, didn’t taste much like shrimp.

What’s the craziest cultural difference you’ve seen on your travels? 

23 thoughts on “5 Shocking Things I Learned on My Trip to England”

  1. There is one thing to remember about the baked beans, they have to be Heinz or they just don’t taste right. 🙂 Fried tomatoes are delicious and with a full breakfast you can easily skip lunch whilst having a fabulous day out. I’m sure that had you asked for a teaspoon you would have been given one. There are an awful lot of differences in the language, only some are dangerous like pavement here, which in England would be the sidewalk! Living in Canada now I notice a even bigger difference in the French spoken here and the French spoken in Europe, it’s completely different in the pronunciation.

  2. I never had the opportunity to travel anywhere that would different enough to really notice! So many different quirks (and I’m sure they’d say the same about here)! I don’t know if I would dare rent a car!

  3. I have always wanted to go there. My daughter has been twice, the second time she spent a whole semester there. Maybe someday…….

  4. Wow!! That’s really something. I’ve never been to England, but traveling there sure comes with surprises. Baked beans for breakfast doesn’t sound too bad.

  5. You gave me some insights into Britain. I knew gas was expensive but 3 times the USA is really expensive. I did not know about the scarcity of traffic lights. RoundAbouts are becoming very popular here. It seems to be the latest traffic fad.
    It seems that you did not enjoy their crisps. You have to taste the chips from PEI-really delicious.
    I like baked beans but not for breakfast.
    You have had a very interesting visit and I am a little envious. Thanks for bringing us up to date on England.

  6. One of the craziest cultural difference I’ve seen was in Jamaica. They are famous for Jerk Chicken and when we went out exploring, found these little wooden shacks that cooked it. There were no doors, no signs saying it had been regulated, however, we tried it and it was the best food ever 🙂

  7. I have not been anywhere outside of the U.S. so do not have any cultural differences to speak of. I find it interesting that the Brit’s eat beans for breakfast. The gas prices are outlandish and if prices were like that here in the US, I would never be able to drive.

  8. This is one of my dream places to visit. I love the history, not so much beans for breakfast lol, I’d like to see castles and drive with no stop lights, well my hubby would love that more lol. Great review hope to visit the places you did and enjoy it all.

  9. My daughter in law is from England. She recently learned that the word “twat” means something entirely different here than it does over there. I love to hear her talk,.

    She BATHS the baby, then gives him his “bot-le”, changes his NAPPY, and “WINDS” him. She then takes the PRAM out of the BOOT of the car and takes him for a walk around the GARDEN. She refers to a rainy day as “it’s PISSING down” and my son is a BLOKE. Her children call her MUMMY, and she refers to me as their GRAN

    There are so many more I could give you but those are the ones that come to mind first.

  10. Yikes the gas prices! But I guess they make more minimum wage per hour so it doesn’t feel as horrible? That’s almost an hour at federal minimum wage here in the states! Yikes!

  11. Ah, this post makes me smile!

    So when do you eat baked beans? They are fab with breakfast, although you got a really measly portion there!

    And we do eat yoghurt with a teaspoon – although, it’s unlikely you’d be given one in a restaurant (I presume that’s where you were?) since it’s not really a menu food, lol.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your visit – I hope you get to come back again soon!

  12. I live in a suburb of Green Bay, Wisconsin and I have approximately 7 roundabouts to get from work to home – depending which way I go. I actually like them because the traffic seems to move better; unless drivers don’t know how to do it.

  13. I am shocked about the gas prices over their! How can anyone afford it! The chips are so different and they only use small teaspoons for tea. I have not traveled in a long time, so I can not remember any differences!

  14. Wow these are pretty interesting facts to know just incase I travel here, but the most shocking is the gas prices.


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