We asked Sussex’s international students about their biggest culture shocks

Beans on toast advocate til I die x

Every year thousands of International students flock to Sussex to experience the 18+ drinking age, awful weather and of course our education system. We asked international Sussex students about their biggest culture shocks.

Constantly asking ‘you alright?’

“Brits saying ‘you alright?’, I thought I looked sad or something the first time someone asked”

Staple Brit phrase. “You alright?” is the perfect introduction to any conversation. Whether you’re meeting someone new or catching up with an old friend. There is never a time where this phrase isn’t appropriate.

Going out with no clothes on

“People go clubbing in barely any clothes for the sake of looking cool”

“Going out in the freezing cold in just a t-shirt”

Going clubbing in just a mini dress or a t-shirt is the social norm for any Sussex uni student. Having to queue and pay for the cloak room whilst all your friends are at the bar is enough to ruin any night out, so it’s understandable students would do anything to avoid taking a coat. Whether it’s snowing or chucking it down with rain, these students will not take a coat. It’s understandable that this is a weird one for international students, and why do we do it? Not a clue.

The poor weather

“The sun doesn’t exist in England”

“Istanbul gets super cold in December and January, but it gets cold here in September. That was definitely a shock for me”

It’s easy to see why Brighton’s weather isn’t one of the sole reasons many international students choose to study here. On the odd occasion that the sun does shine, I can guarantee that its -3°. Moving from a warm climate to somewhere as cold as Brighton has its downsides, but in the grand scheme of things it definitely could be colder. So get yourself a north face and a pair of heavy duty Doc Martens and you’ll be ready to face any weather. You’ll fit in with the Brighton locals too.

Always apologising

“I was shocked to find out that the people said sorry a lot”

“English people always apologise even when they haven’t done anything wrong, why do they keep saying sorry?”

Whether you’re trying to navigate your way past or you didn’t hear someone the first time, we all apologise for the smallest of inconveniences. Saying sorry has been hard wired into us Brits so it’s understandable that to some this is super weird.

Drinking squash

“The whole concept of squash was a shock ngl”

Another oddly popular one. Someone even described it as “cheap and tasty”. A personal favourite, squash also works as the perfect mixer for pretty much any alcohol.

British Sarcasm

“British sarcasm is something I still don’t fully understand”

“Sometimes I think I’m getting better at understanding British students sarcasm, then they make a joke and I realise I don’t have a clue”

As a Brit myself I was surprised that this was such a popular culture shock to many of my international friends. Ingrained into us, British sarcasm is funny and light hearted but to some it isn’t. Someone even said they were surprised at “How unfunny British people are”. That one hurt.

The drinking culture

“The way British students drink alcohol 24/7”

“Drinking so much alcohol during the day”

As well as our use of sarcasm, uni students are known for their drinking culture. Fresher’s week certainly sets the tone for many international students as this is when they realise how much British students truly drink. One student told us “Freshers’ week was insane. I realised that most of my British flatmates were easily gonna outdrink me”. Sounds about right.

Beans on toast

“Eating beans for breakfast is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen”

“Eating beans on toast, that shit is weird”

By far the weirdest culture shock for many international students, beans on toast is an absolute British uni student staple. One of the quickest, simplest and cheapest meals to make. Add a bit of grated cheese and you’ve got something even Gordon Ramsey would be proud of. Don’t knock it till you try it.

The drug culture

“Everyone here does drugs”

“The drug culture was definitely a surprise”

Welcome to Brighton x

Whether you’re an international or not, I think we can all agree that British uni culture is definitely in a league of its own.

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