When living in England and studying English at Oxford English Academy there are certain British customs and an etiquette that I think is important for all international students to know. There is a proper way to act in most situations and the British are sticklers for adherence to protocol.
1) Gift Giving Etiquette.
During Birthday and Christmas celebrations it is common for the British to exchange gifts between family members and close friends. When invited to someone’s home, it is normal to take along a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine or flowers. I have found from experience that the British simply adore chocolates.
2) Dining Etiquette
If invited to a person’s house for dinner, ensure you are punctual and do not sit down as soon as you arrive. The host may show you to a particular seat. Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating and do not rest your elbows on the table.
3) Making Friends
It usually takes some effort at first to build relationships in a new city. Great ways to make friends is to chat with your school mates and to attend activities and parties organised by the Academy.
Tipping is not expected in the UK, in the way it is in the United States or Canada, but is much appreciated. It is not necessary to tip at all in taxis, unless the driver helps with your bags.
5) How to Behave in Public Places
It is impolite to stare at people in public places and spitting in the street is considered to be very bad mannered.
6) Thank you/ I’m Sorry/ Please
The British say thank you a lot, even for minor things. If you accidentally bump into someone, say ‘sorry’. They probably will too, even if it was your fault! This is a habit and can be seen as very amusing by an ‘outsider’.