Crisps or Chips? An American’s perspective on living and studying in England

Moving to any new country comes with some adjustment. Moving to another English speaking country is no exception. 
From the lingo and not understanding a single bit of it, to the partying, and the food – here are some of the top things I have learned from my year living in England. 


1. The concept of “Freshers” week…

…and pretty much every week during term time.
Think of orientation week, except it’s nothing like orientation week. There’s a new party theme every night. That’s freshers week. And every week after seem to be the same. The British go hard (At least where I am at). I honestly have no idea how everyone still goes to class and gets a degree. The partying is intense. Also don’t be surprised to see someone grabbing a pint between classes.

2. The bathroom

When you are out get used to the bathroom being called the loo or the toilet.

3. Food

Be prepared to try every type of food, including Indian, Chinese, Italian and so much more. One thing that everyone needs to try is a kebab, especially after a night out. You can find one of these at almost every corner on every street. Try one, I mean it.

4. Chips or fries

One of the different opinions between the Americans and British is the concept of those little fried potatoes. The British call these chips and we call them fries. Although some Brits may call certain types fries and others chips. It’s all confusing and sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

5. Crisps are chips

You know the packaged chips you snack on? Yeah in England those are called crisps. Chips are fries and crisps are chips. They also have some really interesting flavors of “crisps” such as ketchup and prawn cocktail.

6. No salt on fries

Yes, I went to a pub one time and ordered french fries. They came out with no seasoning on them, not even a little bit of salt. Coming from America, where we put too much seasoning on everything I was shocked.


7. The Pubs

Honestly the pubs are something I am going to miss the most. It’s a place where you can order anything from a full English breakfast to a Sunday roast. And a cup of tea, a pint, or shots. It has everything you can ever need in a warm and cozy environment. You also can’t forget about the pub quizzes and sport events hosted here.

8. Cheers

Be prepared to hear this all the time. And no, it’s not just cheers for drinking (although they do that also). Cheers means thank you. You say it when exiting the bus and thanking a friend for doing you a favor. Pretty much, when in doubt just always say cheers. Also speaking of British lingo when you see someone cute you call them “fit.”

9. Half past

For 7:30 I would say it’s seven thirty. The British tend to say half past seven. Get used to it.

10. The 24-hour clock

The USA seems to be really behind the rest of the world on this one but get prepared to use the 24-hour clock. I had little to no experience with this before moving to England. There were countless times I got a time wrong because of this. It’s such an easy system and you never have to worry about people being confused if you mean A.M. or P.M. My suggestion is to take some time to really get used to seeing 7pm as 19:00 and that will save you lots of time and hopefully limit the possibility of you arriving somewhere an hour early or late.

11. Day/month/year

Here is another one that confused me for a while. While I am used to writing the date like month/day/year, the British write it day/month/year. I confused myself and others many times on what date I actually meant because of this difference.

12. The accents and humor

Sometimes you may not understand what a Brit is saying, even after asking for them to repeat it (multiple times). If this happens just smile, nod, and hope they didn’t say something bad. This also works when they tell you a joke that you don’t get.


13. Queue

You don’t wait in lines in England. You wait in the queue. And speaking of a “queue” it is very possible you will be waiting in one for hours to get into a club.

14. Eggs are not refrigerated

Yes, this one blew my mind when I first arrived in England and still does. You will not find eggs in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. OMG right?

15. You need a TV license

In order to have a TV in your house you need a TV license and could end up with a fine if you don’t have one (Although this is sometimes included in your rent). 

Despite all these crazy adjustments, my year living in England was an amazing experience. It was the best time of my life and I met some of the most incredible people.

I can’t wait to go back to the USA and confuse my friends with some of the British lingo.

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