The way of life in Great Britain is very different from ours. It is the result of the different social and historical development of Britain as an island country. They enjoy being British and see themselves as a different nation. The British don´t like to show their emotions and feelings in public like the Americans do. In America, on St. Patrick´s day, everything is green while in Britain it is not. The British hide their emotions. This is what we call their being conservative and reserved. British people are very polite, too. From my point of view, you cannot meet more polite people in the world. If you listen to a conversation between two British people, there are a lot of expressions like “Thank you”, “I am sorry”, or “Excuse me.” If you have ever been in Britain, don´t be afraid to use these phrases when you ask for something. If you don´t use these phrases, the British people will think you are rude. As far as shaking hands goes, it´s necessary to say that people in Britain shake hands only when they are introduced for the first time or after they see each other after a long time.
British people try to preserve their old traditions and customs. One of them is celebrating festivals. Some of the festivals are state holidays such as X-mas and Easter, while others are ordinary working days such as Halloween or Guy Fawke´s Night. I like the St. Valentine’s Day. On this day people send Valentines cards. There are Valentines wishes on these cards. The cards are not signed and you are to guess who the card is from.
The social life in Britain is very different as well. The British people are the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish. All of them speak English besides their native languages of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. These countries are bilingual.
In Britain we can also hear a number of different dialects. For example, in the East End of London, we can hear Cockney English. In fact, the term is commonly used to denote people who come from a wider area of the innermost eastern suburbs of London and also the adjoining area south of the Thames.
Cockney is also used to describe a strong London accent and, like any such local accent, is associated with working-class origins. A feature of Cockney speech is rhyming slang, in which, for example “wife” is referred to as “trouble and strife” and “stairs” as “apples and pears”.
For centuries, people from many parts of the world have come to settle in Britain. Long before Ireland became independent, Irish people had been immigrating to England. Now there is a very large Irish community in Liverpool. In Britain, there are about four million black Britons now, who have been coming to Britain since the 1950s. Most came from India, Pakistan, or China, and live in big cities like London, Liverpool, etc. Some found the life they were looking for in Britain. Many did not however. Young people, especially from ethnic communities, find it hard to get jobs and to be accepted.
As far as living in Britain, it´s necessary to say that a lot of the British population lives in houses or flats that they own or buy as installments. The idea of a good life is to live in a house with a front and a back garden. There are three types of houses in Great Britain. Terraced houses are several houses, usually two stories, joined together in a row. They often have a small garden in the front and in the back they either have a small garden or a paved yard. Semi-detached houses are a pair of houses joined together but detached. It is a single house.
An average house usually has two floors: the ground floor with a kitchen, dining room, living room and toilet, and the first floor with bedrooms. From the dining room or the kitchen, you can get to the garden. Unlike our gardens, there are no vegetables. Here you can see the flowers and trees as well as well-kept lawns. The gardens are arranged in the traditional English style. English houses are usually made from bricks but they are not usually covered by plaster. Instead, they are either painted or they have a natural color.
About 20% of the population lives in flats. The flats are largely in cities and large towns, rather than in rural areas. Elder people prefer living in bungalows. It is a one story house, so there aren´t any stairs.
It´s interesting to know that British houses are terribly cold. This is for three reasons. Firstly, there is a warmer climate in Britain, so there aren´t so many differences between the temperatures in the winter and the summer, so there isn’t such a great need for heating.
It´s interesting to know that Britain is a constitutional monarchy. This means that the head of the state is the Queen, but she can act only on the advice of the prime minister and ministers. The queen is the head of the Church, too, and commander-in-chief of the army and the judicial system. The foundation of government in Great Britain is made by the Constitution. The Constitution in Great Britain is one of the oldest in the world. It is unwritten and based on customs, tradition, and common law. The country is really governed by the Prime minister and the Cabinet.
There is a system of two main political parties in G.B. - there is the Labour party and the Conservative party. The Prime minister is the leader of the political party which wins the general election. The government is formed by the party which has a majority in Parliament and the Queen appoints its leader as the Prime Minister. Today´s Prime minister is Tony Blair. He is the leader of the Labour Party. The supreme law-making body in the country is the Parliament. It consists of two chambers: The House of Commons (it is a representative assembly of the Members of Parliament, who are elected by voters in one constituency) and the House of Lords whose membership is hereditary.
The British national flag symbolizes the Union of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The flag is something called the Union Jack. Each country has its own cross in the flag: England has St. George´s Cross, Scotland has St. Andrew´s Cross, and Ireland has St. Patrick´s Cross. Each part of Britain also has its own symbol, England has the red rose, Wales has the leek and the daffodil, Scotland has the thistle, and the Ireland has the shamrock.
As for meals in GB it´s necessary to mention that eating habits are different from those on the continent. It is the result of the different development Britain as an island country. Britain has its own national cuisine depending on the traditional ways of preparation. Traditional 5 o´clock tea sticks with only a few people, but it is customary. The day in Britain starts later than our days. After getting up, people in GB usually have breakfast. The term “traditional English breakfast” means a rich meal in the morning. People are very busy today though. A lot of women go to work and that´s why eating habits have changed too. People usually only have a light breakfast instead of the traditional English breakfast, which is a big morning meal. A light breakfast consists of orange juice, cereals or musli or cornflakes with milk followed by buttered toast with jam or marmalade. Then people have a cup of tea with milk and without sugar. This is a typical English drink. Today more people drink coffee with milk instead tea in the morning. The traditional English breakfast is eaten during weekends or on holidays. It is sometimes called brunch. This breakfast is quite big and hot. It´s a very big meal: first we have orange juice, cereal, fried eggs and tomatoes, bacon, sausages, and the very popular baked beans. Then there´s toast and marmalade which is made from oranges, and tea with milk. I think this breakfast is very unhealthy, but people like it. During the morning, people in work have a cup of tea and some biscuits. This small snack is called ”elevens”
Between 12 and 1 o´clock, it is usually lunch time. It´s very common to have something light - like sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, or pies. In cities, there are a lot of sandwich bars, where the office workers go. Sandwiches usually have a traditional triangular shape. Each sandwich consists of two slices of bread with different fillings inside.
School children don´t usually have their lunches at the school canteen. They bring packed lunches from their houses in special lunch boxes. Inside them there are the popular sandwiches, some fruit, something sweet, and crisps. The most popular are crisps with salt and vinegar or cheese and onion. Today, most people buy takeaway food from pubs. These are not meals which are put into plastic boxes and can be eaten anywhere else besides the pub.
In the afternoon, British people have a traditional snack. It is called 5 o´clock Tea. People usually drink quite strong tea with milk and eat some cakes or biscuits. The British are known to be great tea drinkers: they drink tea from the morning till late at night before going to bed. They have a cup of tea before meals, after meals, and between meals. This is called the British manic for tea. In GB, dinner is the main meal of the day. At the time of dinner between 6 and 8 p.m. the whole family meets and has it together. Each dinner consists of a few courses: the main meal (meat and chips, potatoes and cooked vegetables) followed by a cake or a pie, then by fruit with cream (cherries, strawberries), or by ice-cream and some juice. Our evening meal may be either warm or cold. A cold and quick dinner may be similar to the breakfast and consist of some slices of bread or rolls, kippers, or some spread. Later at night, after the theatre or cinema, you can have the last meal of the day - supper. It consists of something light like cheese and biscuits. Great Britain is wonderful place. A lot of tourists visit Great Britain every year to see a lot of historical monuments, not only in London, but for example the ancient spas in Bath, etc. I regret not having visited Britain yet. I wish to travel to this country in the future.