Embracing British culture and traditions

Posted 9 months ago

Everything you can expect as an international student

If you're an international student, one essential aspect of your university experience is immersing yourself in the rich UK culture and embracing vibrant local traditions. In this blog post, I will guide you through what you can expect to get involved in when it comes to culture and traditions in the UK and in Bath.

Food

There are several quintessential British dishes that you should try whilst living here. Here are the top 3 that I think are the most important to try:

Fish and Chips: A true British classic, fish and chips is a beloved dish comprising deep-fried battered fish (often cod or haddock) served with thick-cut chips (fries). Don't forget the essential accompaniments of mushy peas and a splash of vinegar for an authentic experience. I'd recommend going to Bath Fish & Chips which is next to Parade Gardens.

Full English Breakfast: Start your day the British way with a hearty full English breakfast. This substantial meal typically includes eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast.

Sunday Roast: On Sundays, many British families gather for a traditional Sunday roast. You will likely find that your British flatmates will suggest making a flat roast dinner to replicate this homely tradition. The dish consists of roasted meat (usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork) served with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, vegetables, and rich gravy.

Pub Culture

The UK's pub culture is a popular aspect of British life. Bath boasts a huge range of historic and more modern pubs with vibrant atmospheres where you can enjoy traditional drinks, music events and even pub quizzes. It's an excellent way to socialize, make new friends, and experience some of British social life. Most pubs in Bath offer a great selection of non-alcoholic drinks, including 0% drinks and mocktails - you don't need to drink to enjoy a traditional pub (but I dare you to try a pickled egg!).

Sports

The UK is passionate about sport. Whether it's rooting for a British football team in the premier league, watching Bath Rugby at the famous Recreation Ground or watching some Wimbledon tennis in the summer, you'll be embracing the UK's love for sports. You'll find that a lot of conversations with your peers will be about different sporting events and people will often make plans to watch the big matches together. 

Tea

Yes, it is a stereotype that British people love tea, but it's also mostly true. A traditional British cup of tea is black tea with a dash of milk. Some like their tea with sugar in and it's a common addition to dip biscuits in whilst you're drinking it. Drinking tea is also seen as a social experience, many will offer a cup of tea to their guests as it provides an opportunity to sit down, relax and chat. So why not learn how to make the perfect cuppa and offer to make your flatmates one to socialise with them?

Tea also plays a big part in traditional afternoon tea in the UK. This British tradition involves indulging in a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a variety of delicious cakes, all served with a steaming cup of tea. It's not just about the food; it's a social occasion to relax and enjoy the company of friends. Many restaurants and cafes across Bath have afternoon tea on offer, although you often have to pre-book.

History

Embracing the historical significance of the UK and specifically Bath will deepen your appreciation for the culture and heritage that surrounds you. The UK's history is closely intertwined with its monarchy, and you can witness the impact of this through iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. The Tudor and Georgian periods also left a huge impact on British society. You can see the architecture from these eras throughout Bath such as the beautiful Georgian landmark, the Royal Crescent.

Bath's history stretches back to Roman times when it was known as Aquae Sulis. The Roman Baths are a testament to this era and offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Romans who once inhabited the area. University of Bath students can visit the Baths for free, so bring you're friends and learn about the history of our stunning city.

Bath was also a significant place in the life of the beloved novelist, Jane Austen. The city inspired some of her famous works, and you can explore the Jane Austen Centre to learn more about her time here.

Christmas

In the UK, the festive spirit starts to build in November. Then, when December hits the Christmas festivities are out in full force. The Bath Christmas Market is a highlight of the festive season. Held in the picturesque streets surrounding Bath Abbey, the popular market is full of artisanal crafts, unique gifts, and festive treats. Admire the twinkling lights, sip on mulled wine, and explore the festive stalls to find that perfect present for loved ones.

The traditional British Christmas dinner is a spin on the Sunday roast mentioned above but with roast turkey, pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon), brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce. Once again, it's likely that some of your flatmates will suggest having a flat Christmas dinner.

Bonfire Night

On the 5th of November, the UK celebrates Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night. This traditional event commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Expect spectacular fireworks displays, bonfires, and sparklers once it's dark out. The Rec and Bath Racecourse typically host fireworks displays, so look out for tickets in October.

As you enter this exciting chapter of your life in Bath, don't hesitate to embrace the UK culture and local traditions. Engaging with the vibrant heritage and actively participating in events and activities will enrich your university experience and undoubtedly leave you with some great memories!