How do I make British friends?
Aarti, 19, India
OUR BRIT SAYS:
You’ve just arrived in the UK and the prospect of socialising with the natives is daunting. But fear not, we don’t bite! Here are a few tips on how to acquire a Brit buddy:
1) The weather
We Brits are known for our collective moaning at... well, pretty much anything. But the number one cause for complaints is the weather. Thankfully, this topic is also a classic conversation starter. If it’s sunny, be delighted: ‘Nice weather for a barbecue!’ (We love our barbecues.) The opposite works too. You’re caught in the rain with a Brit? A light hearted quip is a good choice to start up a chat: ‘Lovely day, isn’t it?’ The sarcasm pretty much nails it for us. If you’ve got a response, continue the conversation by talking about the previous day’s weather and the forecasted weather. Lie if you have to. Say something like: ‘I hope this bad weather doesn’t last long!’ or maybe, ‘apparently, it’s going to be sunny next week!’ Yay! You’ve given hope to a Brit! That’s an accomplishment in itself.
2) Have a drink
British campuses have a notorious reputation for a booze culture that may not appeal to a lot of international students. But I won’t lie, a drink down at the local pub is a great way to meet new people or go out with friends/flatmates. You don’t have to drink alcohol; the important thing is the social aspect. It allows you to move between conversations easily so go ahead and arrange an outing with your flatmates or even people you have just met. (While you’re in the pub, don’t forget to bring up the weather. No, seriously. It’ll get the ball rolling.)
3) Get active!
Despite what you’ve heard, us Brits don’t just drink all day! Another very important way of meeting the locals is to join a university's sports club. Whatever you choose, you’ll have the chance to strike up a conversation because you have a shared interest. The hard work is already done! Start off by asking something along the lines of: ‘So, how long have you been playing...?’ The discussion will eventually begin to flow, and you’ll be bonding with Brits in no time!
4) Create a look
In Britain, what you wear is huge part of your persona. Fashion says a lot about you and it gives us a sense of who you are at a glance. For example, if you’re sporting a music festival wristband, it’s basically an open invitation to others, to say: ‘Hey! If you’ve been to *insert festival name* too, talk to me!’
Wearing a band shirt works the same way; it advertises your taste. Music is universal, so it’s more than likely that some Brit out there will like the same stuff as you. Not sure if they want to talk to you? You’ll never know until you try. Curiosity never goes out of style, so ask questions and stay chatty (but don't go overboard!).
Finally, you should know that politeness (that sometimes spills into passive-aggressiveness) is at the heart of British culture. Here’s a handy guide to knowing what we Brits say and what we really mean: Anglo-EU Translation Guide.