Adapting to life in UK

12:13:00 AM Elaine Loke 0 Comments

My long awaited Christmas break is finally here! I had been counting down the days since fresher's week and dreading classes every day because my course is filled with assignments and panic attacks. This one month escape from everything is just what I need to get my sanity back.

So it's been 3 months since I've moved to UK and when I have a long thought about how things were back in Malaysia, I noticed how much the lifestyle in UK have changed me. Not much of my attitude or personality, but mostly my mindset towards some situations as well as my understandings on some things.

1. Everybody takes the public transport

Heck, I have to admit the first time I took a public transport was in UK. I was 11 years old. Before that, I had never taken the bus in Malaysia. Don't be shocked, but up till this day, I have never taken the bus in Malaysia. In UK, everybody (or almost everybody) relies on public transports. Everybody knows which bus number to take, which tube line to hop on, the fastest route to get to their destination etc. Ask me how to go somewhere in Malaysia and I'll tell you to call a cab. 

Now that I'm in UK, whenever I need to go to a place, I no longer have to rely on my parents or friends to take me there. I'll just look up the map and figure it out. If I get lost, I'll have to find my way back. It is a great experience for me because I love being adventurous. I didn't have a chance back home because I was over protected by everybody. I remembered last year when I needed to fly to Langkawi island (which is only an hour flight), my mom insisted on flying with me and taking the next flight home just to make sure I arrive safely. She also insisted my dad to fly with me when I was coming to UK and didn't allow me to fly by Emirates because she didn't want me to transit in Dubai. As much as they want to keep me safe and protect me from all the 'what if's, I hate being seen as the dependent little girl and not knowing so many things. I hate it when I tell someone I have no experience in something and they go "what have you been doing your whole life?". I studied my whole life. 

2. French fries are called chips

Not only that. Potato CHIPS are called CRISPS and PANTS are known as TROUSERS because pants means underwear. It's frustrating because I know those words but the image that comes to my mind when I speak those words is different. To me... 

Chips mean this! 

And these are pants! 

And we call this fries!!! 

Okay... I'm in the UK now. Therefore, my argument is invalid. 

3. Malaysians' English is so terrible 

When I first came to UK, I struggled so much to speak in full English. Note that I still struggle now. I always thought speaking English is a piece of cake for me but I was wrong. In Malaysia, we mix so many languages and dialects together. We use it so often that we somehow got so used to it to think it's actually English. For example, 

Malaysian: Boss, tapau one packet of kopi bing. 
Actual: A packet of ice coffee to take away please. 

Malaysian: Where got? 
Actual: (I don't even know how to translate that)

Malaysian: I think ah, sure got something wrong one. See also know ady.  
Actual: I think there's surely something wrong. It's obvious. 

Malaysian: Walao eh, I tell you how many times ady? You stop it can anot (or not)? 
Actual: How many times did I tell you? Can you stop it? 

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. 

A few weeks ago, I showed my flatmate a Malaysian YouTube video. Please don't get me wrong. I am very proud of our Malaysian YouTubers! Their videos never fail to crack me up. However, as the video continues playing, I couldn't help but pause it because I felt something wasn't right. Indeed, when I asked my flatmate if she understood the video, she asked, "Is this English?". It was the exact same question I had in my mind. Was it English? Or was it... I don't know. Minglish? Singlish?  

Malaysian English is very unique. It's just like a secret language where only true Malaysians can understand. But shall we embrace it or replace it? 

4. Card > cash

Britons pay with card so often that the card machines are displayed for customers' convenience. In Malaysia, we still keep them behind the cashier ._. I started switching from using cash to debit card because it's so much more convenient. I once received the wrong change while shopping in Aldi and realised it after I left the store. I ended up waiting an hour for the store to close and the cashier to count the money before they could give me my balance. However, I've been slowly switching back to using cash because my flatmate pointed out that using cash prevents you from overspending because you can see the balance you have left in your wallet. 

5. Using fork to eat rice

Britons are all about the fork. When I first saw my flatmate eating rice with a fork, I had a mental breakdown. A spoon was invented for a reason but for the Brits, definitely not to eat rice. I couldn't understand why. A spoon makes rice eating so much easier and cleaner but they still opt for a fork. It itches my veins when I first saw them eating with a fork but lately I am seeing myself eating rice with a fork... Oh gosh 

6. Self check out 

Remember when we were young, we loved playing the cashier game because scanning items were so fun? At least for me, I was addicted! I remember asking Santa Claus for a cash register for Christmas and when I think back, what a fool I was wishing I could work as a cashier when I grow up. Large supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco offer self check out so you don't have to queue up if you're there to pick up only a few goods. It's a great idea because I remember having to queue behind a lady with a trolley full of goods for 10 minutes just to pay for a packet of crisps. However, I doubt the self check out will work in Malaysia because it'll most probably breakdown after a few days or some people will try to break the system and steal the goods. It still is a great invention and have saved me so much time, unless you did something wrong and the screen shows 'Please wait for assistance' and the red light lights up. Ugh... 

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