The latest Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking was published recently and it contains a major surprise: the only United Kingdom city in the top 50 is London, far behind other European countries like Germany which had seven cities in the top 50 and Austria which has the number one rated city Vienna. Even France did better with two cities (Paris and Lyon) being ranked 34th and 38th respectively. With such a disappointing result, some may wonder if it is indeed the end of the “Home Sweet Home” concept cherished by many British.
Living in the United Kingdom is often challenging for newcomers who may find some of the cultural aspects of British culture confusing or difficult to understand. One of the best examples of this is the concept of the British ’stiff upper lip’ which is a term often used to describe the lack of emotions displayed by many British and their preference to maintain a level of formality and detachment in certain situations. This straight face and reserve can often be negatively perceived as cold and uninterested. In fact, it’s one thing that helped the British population get through many historical ordeals like the blitz during the Second World War.
Other cultural factors can get in your way when you are trying to settle in the UK such as the sense of humour. The use of self deprecating irony is common and something you will definitely need to get used to when living in the UK and making new contacts. The same applies for the fairly indirect British communication style which requires a higher level of attention to not only what is being said but also to the tone of voice and facial expression in order to effectively decipher their message.
The British Isles are also renowned for the diversity and vast array of people, landscapes and regional differences. Scotland’s landscapes are dramatically different from those in Southern England while there is a significant difference in the English accents of Birmingham and Belfast. This wonderful patchwork makes the British Isles an amazing place to live, full of diversity and new discoveries.
While having only one city in the Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking can seem disappointing to some, the United Kingdom can still be proud of having four cities ranked between the 53rd and 63rd positions, showing that living in the UK can be a great experience thanks to the many wonderful cultural and historical assets added to the overall quality of life in the country.
Regardless of the potential cultural challenges awaiting you, living in the United Kingdom can be a truly enjoyable experience. To fully appreciate British culture and to ensure you have a positive experience, however, it is vitally important that you understand the challenges awaiting you in the UK. Communicaid’s Cultural Awareness Training United Kingdomcourses like Living and Working in the UK can help you to identify and overcome the main cultural differences in the UK and develop appropriate strategies that will ensure you get the most out of your expatriation in the UK.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2010