Adapting to life in the UK

  • Moving to a new country can be challenging and you are likely to experience highs and lows while you are here. Settling in can take some time and can be tiring as you will be learning new things all the time.

    Here are some things that can help you make the UK your second home.

  • You may wish to join some of the Brookes and Oxford groups on Facebook and Twitter, for example:

    Look out for #HelloBrookes and #WeAreInternational.

    Oxford is a historic city with fantastic museums and architecture. It has theatres, cinemas, clubs and live music venues as well as lovely parks to explore and relax in. There are lots of places to eat and drink, with food from around the world. We publish some of these on our social pages.

    Find out more at:

    You can spend a weekend in a host family home. This gives you the chance to experience British home life, share your own culture and practice your English. You will just need to pay transport costs to and from the host and take spending money.
    • Most people shake hands when they are first introduced but as you get to know them better they may greet you with a kiss on the cheek or a hug.
    • Being late is seen as bad manners in the UK. Aim to arrive five minutes early for classes so there is time to sit down before they begin. If you are going to be late for an appointment, let the person you are meeting know. The only time you can be a little late is if you are going to someone’s house for a party or dinner.
    • You will often hear the words ‘excuse me’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ and it’s good to use them yourself.
    • People like a lot of space around them so don’t stand too close to them.
    • Try not to ask personal questions, for example, about age, their salary, religious beliefs or politics until you know them very well.
    • We queue (stand in line) for everything here; for buses, to pay in shops, for toilets and sometimes even to enter class. People will be annoyed at you if you do not wait in the queue. If someone is there before you, let them go first. If you forget to queue, just apologise.
    • The British sense of humour can be ironic and confusing. Don’t worry. As you get to know the people better, you will start understanding the jokes. If you are not sure, just ask.
    • Some people, clubs and societies meet in pubs (public houses). All pubs serve non-alcoholic drinks so you don’t need to drink alcohol. It is legal to drink alcohol if you are over 18 in the UK. Alternatively, people meet in the many cafés in Oxford.
    • We only usually tip when you receive table service for example in cafes or restaurants. Tipping is normally around 10%.