Survival guides are written to prepare people for possible cultural dynamics of a soon to be visited country. Though guides such as “CultureShock! A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette” and CultureShock! Great Britain provides a practical overview for people moving to London primarily; it always gives tourists an insight into the history and customs of London.
London is a beautifully complex country with an even more complicated history and cultural makeup. Walking through the streets of London and take in all of its majestic landscape provides a better understanding and appreciation of its complexity.
“London goes beyond any boundary or convention. It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed. It is illimitable. It is Infinite London.”
A Tourist’s Lens
Three years ago, I was graced with the opportunity to join my husband on a trip to London/Oxford as a part of his doctoral studies with George Fox University (Portland Seminary). The ideal trip to travel across the pond and it was quite astounding. To have the opportunity to see first the architect, experience the culture, experience the food, and the possibility of seeing the queen had me on the edge of my seats. Before we left for London we read some books, spoke with some friends who have lived or been there before, and we devised a sure proof plan, or should I say not some much of a plan. The plan was to “go with whatever presents itself; be fluid.”
We arrived a day or two early to meet up with a relative to give us the tourist sightseeing package. First stop was to the Underground, the easiest way to travel throughout London and in my opinion. With loaded with oyster card and personal guide, we jumped on the train to discover the streets and sites of London. We traveled to Big Ben, took a ride on the London Eye and course we had our share of fish and chip with a pickle on the side. The next day we visited Buckingham Palace, but our schedule was off, so we missed the changing of the guards. We visited the British Museum, but to enjoy the museum in its entirety, you may need an entire day. As you walk through the mazes of exhibits and ancient artifacts, one can become engrossed and even lost in the abundance of its history, transporting one’s consciousness into an era unknown to them.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
In addition to enjoying the sites and sounds of London, the most crucial time was the moments spent staking to our cousin of what it is like to live in such a marvelous country. Everything is not roses. Like any other country, there is beauty even in the darkness along the cobblestone roads, and there is a divide amongst wealthy and poverty-stricken (class systems). However, the people are strong; they have pride in the country and will live to fight another day.
As we continued our week now under the seminary itinerary advance from London to Oxford, we were able to see through a different lens through the eyes of the clergy, business professional, and lecturers. I would go further in detail. However, I do not want to ruin it. You will have to see and experience London for yourself.
However, I will leave you with some of the things learned from this book, and my while travels in London and Oxford.
Preparation for the Mind
- Embrace every moment as if is your first time visiting, even if you have been there before.
- Be open to new ideas of thinking and seeing through a different lens.
- Though in America, there is a phrase ”the customer is always right”; that may not be applicable in the UK.
- The people are politely straightforward. Please bring your thick skin, no harm is intended. For, “the imperative of public behavior is that decorum shall be maintained, and awareness of any kind shall be avoided.”
- Study the Do’s and Don’t of the country; it is extremely beneficial.
- Though tipping may be customary, check your bill first for there may already be a 12.5% gratuity already added depending on the number in your group.
- Stay to the left when driving and walking; however, on the escalator in the Tube stay to the right to allow others to pass.
- London and Oxford’s climate is much like Seattle during the Fall, a little wet and a little cold. Bring a light jacket.
- Walking is a part of the experience, therefore wear comfortable shoes. There are plenty of “places to walk in London-and to cycle, for that matter,” especially “ the city’s many parks and waterways.”
- Beans are served at breakfast.
- Study some of the usages of words, for it will vary from the US. Here are a few words to get you started.
- Restrooms and or bathroom are loos or toilets
- Police are bobbies
- Trash is rubbish
- Fries are chips
- Cookies are biscuits
Moreover, do not forget to ”mind the gap” culturally and literally, you do not want the get stuck in the crack.
 International Perspectives On the Teaching of Literature in Schools: Global Principles and Practices (London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2018), 68.
 Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1999), 1.
 Orin Hargraves, Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Tarrytown: Marshall Cavendish Corp, 2010), under “ Loc. 929,” Kindle.
 Ibid. loc. 555