The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting England

Getting ready for a trip across the pond? Whether you’re visiting London or enjoying a vacation in the English countryside, you’ll want to be sure to avoid these five potentially offensive actions that can drive a wedge between you and your potential new English friends. 

1. Talk About Money

In America, many people are excited to share when they get a big raise at work or otherwise come into money. In England, you’ll want to steer clear of financial conversation. Instead of talking about how much your vacation cost or a great deal that you got on a flight, make small talk.

2. Walk Around With a Perma-Grin

In some English circles, smiling is a normal part of interacting, but in others, it’s a sign of an uneducated or poorly mannered person. Keeping a straight face while you’re out and about in England isn’t a sign of unfriendliness, rather, it will help you blend in like a local. 

3. Give the Palm-In Peace Sign

Throwing up the index and middle finger in photos or as a way to bid someone farewell is a common way to say “peace” in America, but in Great Britain, this is the same as throwing up a middle finger. Trust us–no one will be giving you well wishes in return if they see you giving this hand gesture in their direction. 

4. Talk About Your Accomplishments

In America, many college grads take a great deal of pride in talking about their alma mater, but this subject isn’t a common topic of conversation in England. Talking about one’s accomplishments–in both education and career–is looked at as over-the-top and rude. English people tend to steer away from talking about themselves, especially in new company. When you’re looking to connect with a new friend in England, make small talk about the pub you’re in, the park you’re visiting, or the weather–don’t try to find common ground by discussing potentially shared elitist experiences. 

5. Insist on Ice

In America, you’re used to being served an icy glass of water or iced tea with your meal, but in England, icy beverages are not as common. If you want to go with the flow and drink like a local, don’t ask for ice in your drink.