This article about making British friends was updated by the Great British Mag content team on 27 January 2021.
Brits are notoriously reserved and if you’ve grown up in another culture you may find this hard to navigate when trying to befriend a Brit. But knowing what to talk about, some basic social rules and topics to avoid will help you make British friends. After all, you didn’t move to the UK to just hang out with people from your own country!
Talk about the weather
We Brits are known for our collective moaning at…well, pretty much anything. The most common cause for complaint is the weather. Thankfully, this topic is also a classic conversation starter. If it’s sunny, you could start talking to someone by saying, “Nice weather for a barbecue!”
The opposite works too. When you’re caught in the rain with a Brit, a light-hearted joke is a good way to get them chatting. Try saying something like, “Lovely day, isn’t it?” The sarcasm nails it for us.
If they’ve responded, continue the conversation by speaking about the previous day’s weather or the forecast. “I hope this bad weather doesn’t last long” or “Apparently, it’s going to be sunny next week” both work wonders. Just then, you’ll have given hope to a Brit; that’s an accomplishment in itself.
Go for a drink
British universities are notorious for having a strong drinking culture that may not appeal to everyone. However, there is no denying that going for a drink is a great way to meet new people and socialise with friends and flatmates. But don’t worry if you don’t drink alcohol. Brits are accommodating and the important thing is the social aspect.
Spending time at a pub or bar together allows people to become more comfortable with one another. So go ahead and arrange an outing with your flatmates, or even people you’ve just met. The other thing you can do is invite people over for tea. Brits love a “cuppa and biscuit” and it’s a great way to break the ice.
A number of sports are very popular in the UK, including football, rugby, tennis and cricket, to name a few. If you are a fan or play any of these sports, then this is another good way to meet locals. Think about joining a university or community sports club.
Whatever activity you choose, you’ll have the chance to chat with others about your shared interest. The hard work is already done! Start off by asking, “So, how long have you been playing?” The discussion will begin to flow and you’ll be bonding with Brits in no time.
Try HOST UK
This organisation offers the opportunity for international students to stay with British host families for a day, weekend or a few days over Christmas. This time allows students to get better-acquainted with British culture, enjoy home cooked meals, learn more about the English language and customs and meet friendly and welcoming faces. It also gives people a chance to see an area of the UK that they might not traditionally think to visit.
For more information on how to apply visit the HOST UK website. Here are a few tips to maximise your chances of getting an invitation:
- Provide as many available dates as possible
- Be willing to go anywhere in the UK
- Reply to any correspondence quickly
- Be willing to go somewhere with pets as many hosts have cats, dogs or both
If you follow these steps you’re sure to have British friends soon!
One final piece of advice is that Brits have a quirky sense of humour, and our jokes can take some time getting used to. Be prepared for a good dose of self-deprecation and sarcasm.