Episode 14 - A few things I dislike about the UK
Hey everyone! Welcome back to The British English Language Podcast! Wow it feels like such a long time since I last recorded an episode! I’ve missed making episodes for you! I’ve been so busy these last six weeks as I’ve moved house five times! Well not exactly moved house but my dog, Björk, and I and all of my luggage have been going from one place to another trying to find a nice place to call home. I’m still searching for where to stay more permanently but hopefully, when restrictions are relaxed I’ll be able to find the stability I’m looking for.
Anyway, this podcast is designed especially for intermediate level students who want to improve their understanding of British English. I’m Amy, I’m 34 and I was born and grew up in England. After one of the earlier episodes of this podcast - ‘5 things I love about the UK', I thought it would only be fair to share with you some of the things that I’m not so keen on about the UK. By the way, in English, when you’re not so keen on something it means that you don’t particularly like it. It’s a popular way of expressing like or dislike in English, so I recommend using this expression as you’ll be able to demonstrate your advanced English knowledge.
Before we get started, I would like to remind you that the transcriptions for these episodes are on my website - www.britishenglishlanguage.com. The transcriptions are free to access and I recommend using them as they’ll help you to improve your English language reading skills too!
One more exciting announcement I’d like to share with you is that I now have space to take on new students for English classes! If you’d like to practise your English speaking skills with me then I offer 30-minute conversation classes or 50-minute conversation and theory classes via video-call. Speaking with a native is truly the best and really the ONLY way to build up your confidence and fluency in speaking English. Of course I let you decide what topics to talk about to suit your needs and, after each class, I’ll send you homework based on any areas that need practise and improvement. My classes are really fun and I’ll make you feel very relaxed so that improving your English doesn’t have to be hard work or stressful. I’m really excited about meeting you and working with you so get in touch via the Book a Class page on the website!
OK, let’s get started!
Episode 14 - A few things I dislike about the UK
The traffic on the roads
Oh my God the amount of traffic on the roads in the UK is getting worse and worse. The UK is generally over-populated, meaning that there are cars everywhere. Many households (i.e. a house and the occupants living within it) own more than one vehicle which makes the situation even worse. Even outside of the towns and cities, in the countryside, there are too many cars on the roads. You would have to travel to the most rural villages to find more peace on the roads.
Walking my dog, Björk, along the roads every day is usually quite frustrating. Some roads do not have a separate path for pedestrians (people travelling by foot) so I would have to stop walking every few seconds to wait for cars to drive past me. It used to drive me mad! Did you just notice that the verb ‘to drive’ was used twice then for two completely different meanings? In English you can drive a car or another road vehicle and you can drive someone mad! To drive someone mad means to annoy someone to the point that they feel crazily frustrated! It’s another really commonly used expression in English and I’m sure you have your own version in your languages too!
When I’m behind the wheel, i.e. when I’m the one driving the car, it’s just as frustrating because traffic jams are part of normal every day life in the UK. By the way, a traffic jam is a build up of vehicles queuing on the road to move forward. The vehicles move extremely slowly in traffic jams and sometimes you can be waiting for hours. Traffic jams can be caused by accidents in the road or by roadworks, which could be road maintenance or construction.
It’s easy to see that the amount of traffic on the roads in the UK is excessive when you live somewhere like Ibiza where you often get the entire road to yourself. I don’t have a car here in the Balearic Islands so I don’t drive much, but when I have driven, I have never, not even once, been in a traffic jam. The roads are generally quiet and peaceful. And so my walks with Björk are much more relaxed along the roads here and I can more often let her off the lead to run free.
Road traffic is one of the main causes of anger and stress amongst commuters (i.e. people travelling to work). I’m sure that sooooo many of you can relate to this as I am very aware that the UK is NOT the worst for road traffic. I’ve never been to India or Israel but I’ve heard traffic there is horrendous. Also LA, in the United States, is famous for road traffic.
How expensive rental prices are
This is something that lots of people complain about and many people around the world know that it is particularly expensive to live in the UK. Although both property rental and purchase prices are very high in the UK, of course some areas are much higher than others. For example, it is much more affordable to live in the north of England than it is to live in the South. Of course it goes without saying that the most expensive place to live is London. Generally speaking, wages and salaries (earnings) are higher in London too but, regardless of this, you need to be earning a very high salary to be able to live comfortably in London.
Oxford, the city where I spent most of my twenties, was declared by Lloyds Bank as being the most unaffordable place to live in the UK. This is because the cost of buying a property in Oxford is over ten times higher than the average wage. That is to say that the wages compared to the cost of living in Oxford are very low.
If you’re considering coming to live in the UK then you should expect to pay around £500 per month to rent a room in a shared house. In Oxford you could pay as much as £700 for a room, and similar prices in London. You can forget about trying to rent an entire apartment for £500, or even £700 in most places.
The cost of living in the UK is quite high too although there are many supermarkets which offer very cheap ranges of food. Although the quality isn’t necessarily particularly good, some of these products are unbelievably cheap - so cheap that it’s worrying to think about the process in making these foods in order for the companies to make a profit. Although they’re both islands, the cost of food in the UK is definitely slightly (a little bit) cheaper than the cost of food in Ibiza.
The long, dark and miserable winters
Of course I couldn’t make this episode without talking about how miserable our winters are in the UK. I can’t express enough how pleased I am to be enjoying my first winter here in the Balearic Islands and experience the benefits of daily sunshine and mild temperatures.
Winters in the UK seem to go on forever. Temperatures there can be cold for around eight months of the year. The problem though isn’t so much the cold. Cold, snowy days are fun and beautiful, but cold, wet and grey days are no fun. It snows rarely in the UK, maybe only once or twice a year for a few days. When I was a child it snowed a lot more. However the last heavy heavy snowfall, which lasted over two weeks in the UK was the winter of 2010, where temperatures were at minus 10 degrees most days. These days though, temperatures usually don’t go below around minus 3 degrees Celsius.
The cold and wet climate of the UK has meant that we lead an indoor lifestyle for most of the year. Very little time is spent outside during these cold and wet months which means that there isn’t much opportunity to receive sunlight. The condition SAD is a very real phenomenon in the UK. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and is a type of depression related to changes in the seasons. It’s very easy to feel depressed throughout the long UK winter months from insufficient sunlight and not spending enough time in nature.
Unlike other places in Europe, which are mountainous and enjoy drier and snowy winters, winter sports such as skiing are not possible in the UK. So British winters really are a time to stay indoors, reflect on your life and rest, ready to return back to life again with more energy for when the summer arrives.
If you’re someone who feels the need to stay active and constantly move forward in life then a British winter could be very frustrating for you. To stay content during a British winter, the best thing to do is embrace it and use the time to rest and hibernate. Wintertime is a perfect opportunity for planning projects and conserving our energy for the coming warmer months. Sleeping more, allowing your body to repair itself, relaxation and self care are important during the winter. Hot steams and saunas help to raise your body temperature and detox. Winter is also a great opportunity to study, take an online course or read books. Your body will naturally feel the need to sleep until later in the morning but we don’t need to feel guilty about this! The sun rises much later and I think it makes sense that our bodies synchronise with the rhythms of nature.
Personally I love the sunshine and the nature too much to choose to live most of the year indoors so other countries with warmer climates are really where I prefer to live.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The British English Language Podcast! If you visit the UK, the best time is between the months of April and September to make the most of the beautiful British spring and summertime. If you do visit in the winter though make sure you enjoy a cosy, open log fire with some nice warm, British food. If you’re already living in the UK or have visited in the past then I’d love to hear about your experiences! What are some of your favourite and least favourite things about the UK?! Get in touch by sending a message via the contact form on the website - www.britishenglishlanguage.com. I very much look forward to hearing from you! Thank you so much again and I’ll see you next time!
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