Part One – Introduction
Hello Everyone! A big, friendly greeting from everyone here at Castle School of English Brighton.
Welcome to the first episode of our new web series “Britain is Weird!” – a funny and educational look at life in Britain from the perspective of two people: a native English guy, and an Italian lady.
We want to talk about how Britain looks to foreigners, and how British people react to visitors from other countries. We will be talking about the weird and wonderful differences in culture, food, shopping, working….and most of all, learning English! The first episode is a blog, but as we go on, we want to make this into a podcast and ask all of our friends around the world to contribute, by talking about their experiences of coming to the UK and learning English, and by asking us questions.
First of all, please meet our two “Britain is Weird” hosts, Dan Sherrington and Giorgia Gonzalez:
Dan Sherrington was born and raised in the South of England and has lived in Brighton for 22 years. He has extensive experience of English language students, and has worked at a lot of English schools in Brighton. He worked as an English teacher, then an accommodation officer, then a School Manager. In 2018, he started his own business as a web copywriter, but still works in schools part-time. He met Giorgia in 2016 when they worked together, and is now Deputy Centre Manager at Castle School of English in Brighton while Giorgia is on maternity leave.
Giorgia Gonzalez was born in a small town in the centre of Italy, where she lived until 2013. She moved to the UK that year and lived in Worthing, before later moving to Brighton. Her first job was as a school activity leader and she really enjoyed it! From that moment on, she has always worked in language schools, and has developed a real love for the industry. She has been an accommodation officer, a groups officer and is now the Centre Manager for Castle School of English. Her beautiful daughter, Harper, was born in January 2020 and she is now working part time for the school while looking after her.
For this first episode, Dan talks to Giorgia about her first impressions of Britain.
Dan: Hi, Giorgia! So, you first moved to Britain in 2013. What made you decide to move here?
Giorgia: Good question, this is a long story…let’s say if my house didn’t burn down I wouldn’t be here in the uk but in Amsterdam…or at least is where I had my plane ticket for. That is a whole other story! Let’s just say: life is full of surprises and my passion has always been for travelling. I was very lucky and was offered a job in a language school by a family friend and that’s how all began.
D: What was your first job?
G: I was an activity leader, which was perfect for me. I was fully enjoying my life, meeting lots of people from all over the world (partying most days!) and travelling in low season. I made so many good friends over the years from all around the world: Libya, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and so many more…..I am very grateful for the opportunity it gave me to meet people.
D: What was your first house/apartment like?
G: Ah, my first room! It was great! I was living with a lovely couple and their cat Neska and I always felt welcome. When you move abroad, you always worry about who you will be living with, cultural differences, how you will fit in etc…it can be quite scary. Sometimes people find it difficult to click but for me was very easy and this is thanks to the beautiful people I lived with and that I now consider my family. I learnt a lot from them! And guess what? Although it was self-catering, we did eat together and yes, English people CAN cook! Actually, very well – it’s not all McDonalds or Burger King. My host dad was, and is, an amazing cook and I do steal some of his recipes from time to time.
D: Haha! It’s true – British people have a bad reputation for food, but it’s usually not true. I think that was a very old idea. Some people still just eat chips every night, but most British people are very interested in cooking. Especially in Brighton, as it has so many international influences.
So, what was your English like when you arrived? Did you make any big mistakes, or embarrassing situations?
G: Ok, so let me be clear, people: when you finish university and you think you have a C1 level, you think you have learnt everything about English, but it’s not true. When you start speaking to English people on the phone, you will realise you are just beginning! I found it especially difficult to understand people from the North of England, or from Scotland. I just kept nodding my head, but I had no idea what I was agreeing with! ?
I had two very embarrassing moments when I first arrived: the best one was speaking to someone at a call centre. I literally could not understand a word! I was so embarrassed that I started making funny noises on the phone and pretending my connection was bad!
D: That’s hilarious! I can imagine you making strange noises down the phone ? It does take a lot of practice. Speaking on the phone is one of the hardest things to do in another language. Any advice for other students?
G: To learn a language, you need to practice as much as possible, with other students or local people. Forget about friends from your nationality, at least for a while, and I promise you this will pay you back.
D: Was Britain like you expected? What was different?
G: I love England and especially Brighton. It’s a very nice city to live in and we have the sea too! Maybe it’s because I am “Mediterranean”, but I was expecting people to be a bit warmer and friendlier… They are - don’t get me wrong - but in a different way to what I was used to. This is something you have to accept when living abroad, people are different, culture is different, but this is the beauty of it isn’t it?
Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories about traveling to Britain? Or maybe you have some questions about live here? If so, please let us know!
We hope to bring you some more funny and interesting stories in the next few weeks, and share our discussions about the weird and wonderful ways of life in Britain.
Castle School of English, Brighton is currently closed due to the international lockdown, but we are still here for your questions. We are also offering online lessons so that you can enjoy all the same great classes, and the same great teachers, from the comfort and safety of your own home. Contact us to find out more.
Is Britain weird? You decide: