[Guest post] A look inside British people/ Una vita da expat in UK, Martina Munzittu

Scrolla in basso per la versione in italiano

life as an expat - british peopleDo you think that my favourite Italian romance author Martina Munzittu could miss my Jubilee? (CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED SCHEDULE)

I asked her if she wanted to drop some lines about her life in the UK. The reasons why I proposed this guest post to Martina?
1) She’s been living in the UK way more years than me, so she knows what’s all about English people;
2) Chase is an expat as well, but his journey was the opposite, as he moved from the UK to Italy. Find out here the seven things Chase learned by Italians in Italy.

So here’s Martina experience. Life as an expat is cool!

I am Italian but I have lived in the UK for twenty years. Stefania has asked me to write a blog post about my impressions as an Italian expat. So here I came up with my list of twenty observations from twenty years in the UK. To be honest, it didn’t take me twenty years to notice all of these, some of them only took twenty days, some twenty weeks, some a bit longer.

They’re meant to serve as a comparison with life in Italy. When I say “English people do this or do that…” what I really mean is that Italians do not. Warning: not to be taken too seriously.

1. English people are very polite, they always say “thank you” when you do something for them.

2. English people are very polite (again). They say “please” when they ask for something. They say please, sometimes, even when they’re not asking for anything.

3. The British will always form a queue at the bus stop, supermarket till, bank and post office counter, airport check-in, or wherever more than two or three people have to wait for something.

4. English people don’t like to eat dry food. By ‘dry’ food I mean anything that is roasted or grilled. If it’s dry, they will cover it with something called ‘gravy’ or sauce, until what was once dry is now swimming in it.

5. The English put pepper on everything they eat. Even on pizza.

6. The British drink tea, Italians drink coffee. When the English drink tea they have it with milk, Italians have it with lemon.

7. English people rush, especially Londoners. If you travel on the tube, you notice that everybody is always running, on the escalators, along the platforms, through the ticket machines. It’s not clear where they are all going.

8. When it comes to plumbing, the English have given up on technology. 50% of modern bathroom’s basins still don’t have mixer taps.

9. See number 8 above. 99% of British bathrooms don’t have a bidet.

10. Half the British population prefers to have a bath rather than a shower.

11. English motorists respect the rules. They will stop at a red traffic light.

12. English drivers will stop at a pedestrian crossing if someone is trying to cross the road.

13. Despite 11 and 12 above, the British drive on the wrong side of the road.

14. Some English girls wear sandals in winter, when it’s only 5 C°.

15. Some guys wear sandals and socks in summer, on those rare days when the temperature reaches 27 C°.

16. English people don’t like to complain. They may have hated their steak tartare, but when the waiter asks ‘how was your meal?’ they’ll say ‘it was very good, thank you.’

17. The English are very punctual. They tend to be good timekeepers and respect deadlines.

18. Family routines are strict. The British tend to put their children to bed by 7pm. The kids wake up very early in the mornings, problematic at week-ends.

19. English people love to read, and they do it everywhere: in the park, on public transport, at the laundrette, while waiting at the doctor’s surgery. I even saw one read while he was walking once.

20. The English are animal lovers. They love them so much that it has been known for some to leave their inheritance to their pets, rather than their immediate family.

These are just generalizations, and as such, must not been taken too seriously. Have you yourself spotted anything about the English culture that is different from yours?

La presenza della mia scrittrice italiana di romanzi rosa preferita, Martina Munzittu, non poteva mancare durante il mio Giubileo (CLICCA QUI PER IL PROGRAMMA AGGIORNATO)

Le ho chiesto se aveva voglia di buttare giù due righe sulla sua esperienza da immigrata in Inghilterra. Perché le ho chiesto proprio questo?

1) Martina vive in Inghilterra da molti più anni di me, per cui sa bene il fatto suo sugli inglesi She’s been living in the UK way more years than me, so she knows what’s all about;
2) Anche Chase è un immigrato, ma al contrario. Rispetto a me e Martina, lui ha fatto il viaggio contrario, spostandosi da Londra all’Italia. Qui Chase ha scritto le sette cose che ha imparato in Italia dagli italiani. É tutto in inglese, c’è da avere pazienza con lui!

Martina ha pubblicato la traduzione italiana del suo guest post sul suo blog.
Clicca qui per leggerlo!

Photo credit Leo Reynolds


  1. I don’t think any Brit could really argue with these observations. We Brits also like to apologise when something isn’t our fault (“sorry, but your dog just peed on me…”) and we take years and years to even speak to our next door neighbours. Can’t rush these things, you see. I suspect the British way of arguing with one’s partner might be different from in Italy, too: a famous line used by British wives is, “If you don’t know what you’ve done wrong, I’m not going to tell you,” followed by heavy silence.
    Number 13 was my favourite ;)

    • Pauline, I am reading your Saving Saffron (it’s my lunch time book) and it’s hilarious. As I said elsewhere, I love British humour and yours is particularly witty!

  2. Great observations, I completely aggree (as Czech who lived in the UK for more than 16 years, now returning back ‘home’).
    I’d add that:
    – English people support local charities and charitable events aimed to raise the money for a good cause. I was surprised to learn about sponsored walks – we Czechs usually walk for fun.
    – English do not usually correct your grammar, even if you ask them to do so – to understand is probably more important?
    – English have a great tradition of bell ringing non ringers – especially those living next to the church :) – sometimes complain about.

    Number 13 is my favourite too ;)
    … especially tricky with the european car with the steering wheel on the right side :)

    • Jitka, I was impressed as well about British charity activities. In Italy such a massive will of helping people this way doesn’t exist. And also, I totally agree with the grammar thing. Is it being too much polite?

  3. Martina and Stefania, I thought number 8 was especially funny. It took me quite a long time to accept the single-handled mixer taps. I still like the look of the separate hot and cold, but I really wouldn’t want to go back to it.

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