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What's the oddest thing you've heard or been asked about the uk in your resident country?

(108 Posts)
redexpat Tue 28-Oct-14 21:00:38

I've heard more than once in denmark that the UK is a catholic country hmm

And today i was stopped in the supermarket and asked to settle an argument about the origins of halloween.

Does anyone else feel like a sort of cultural ambassador?

NetballHoop Tue 28-Oct-14 21:04:23

In Egypt I was once asked when the UK national independence day was.

I stuggled with that one.

Hairylegs47 Wed 29-Oct-14 05:31:06

In the Middle East a lady asked me about going to Church - we struck up a conversation because I was wearing an abaya and I'm not a Muslim. She was Muslim and told me I had no need to wear it as I'm a Christian. We got into a discussion about religion - daft I know, especially as it was in Saudi Arabia where they are very strict about such. I told her most Brits don't go to Church, ever. She was horrified.

SurfsUp1 Wed 29-Oct-14 05:42:02

Australians often get complimented on speaking English well (which is ironic really!).
Questions about kangaroos in the streets etc are fairly common as well as riding kangaroos.
Americans find it very hard to come to grips with the idea that Australia is nearly the same size as the USA. They also seem to be rather shocked by our general lack of religion.
In the UK I was aced more than once if I could tell the difference between an Australian and NZ accent.

SurfsUp1 Wed 29-Oct-14 05:43:35

When the Sydney Olympics were on, I was told by an English tourist that Australians were unimaginative with place-names as so many had been copied from England. hmm

sleepybuthappy Wed 29-Oct-14 05:44:07

In Canada I was once congratulated on how well I spoke English when I said I was from Scotland. Apparently nobody would have guessed it wasn't my first language... Someone also once asked me "so in Scotland do they have banks?".

SurfsUp1 Wed 29-Oct-14 05:52:33

Ooh another good one is hearing people discussing their travel plans around Australia and totally underestimating the distances they're talking about.
I've had to explain a few times that Sydney/Perth is like London/Moscow to people who thought they could drive there and back as a little side-trip.

Yesterday on FB is saw a girl talking about how excited she was to have booked her tickets to Australia - she was very keen to do the Sound of Music Tour!

MamaGelfling Wed 29-Oct-14 05:55:21

Spanish relatives continually mention smoggy London. I feel like I have to continually tell them that London isn't like an old Sherlock Holmes!

LadyCybilCrawley Wed 29-Oct-14 06:07:27

Oddest thing I've been asked about the UK? Well, a hairdresser in New York once asked me if we "had our own money" or did we use american dollars like they did.

And I often get how we "all speak with accents" which then I have to point out that an accent is merely a matter of perspective. Doesn't convince most people.

MyNameIsSuz Wed 29-Oct-14 06:49:57

I don't live there any more, but the weirdest thing I ever got asked was whether it was true that English people don't rinse the dishes when they wash up - hopefully from personal experience of one rubbish washer upper than a commonly held national stereotype! A whole class of aghast students asking 'how does it taste?!'

MyNameIsSuz Wed 29-Oct-14 06:50:55

Oh, that was in Italy by the way... and yes, I rinse the bubbles off the washing up!

redexpat Wed 29-Oct-14 08:53:32

These are so funny! Keep em coming!

alteredimages Wed 29-Oct-14 09:22:24

I had the money thing in the US too, they were very surprised to hear that there are other currencies. Also the accent. One girl also congratulated me on my English (I'm Scottish) and was shocked to learn that we have electricity in Scotland. hmm

In Egypt people have trouble with the idea that many Brits aren't religious or regular churchgoers. They have no problem with religious difference, but agnosticism and atheism they find very weird.

They also think foreigners are weird for not washing down there after going to the toilet and wanted to know how we can walk around not being clean. Tbh, I am coming around to their point of view.

No one believes me that Christmas trees are for Christmas and not New Year.

Wolfbasher Wed 29-Oct-14 09:36:36

When living in California, I was complimented on my good English. I said, well I'm from the UK, and the DVLA employee (on the telephone) said 'Oh, do they speak English there'!

cowbiscuits74 Wed 29-Oct-14 16:19:01

explaining bonfire night, why etc etc as of course the only country in the world that celebrates it and by pretending to burn a stuffed man at that! Sounds a bit odd when you try to explain it out loud. I do miss bonfire night.

redexpat Wed 29-Oct-14 20:20:12

Now I use bonfire night as a way of countering the idea that we are a catholic country - no, we burn a catholic, every year! Usually gets a reaction grin

InaPuckle Wed 29-Oct-14 22:08:44

LadyCybil I used to work in a hotel in London and once an American hairdresser over for some hairdressing conference/exhibition thingy was trying to find out if he had been ripped of by his taxi driver. He got a taxi from Heathrow and paid the driver in US$ but didn't get change and wanted to know how much the driver should have charged him in US$. I told him he was lucky they even accepted it!

Explaining foreign currency transactions to Americans was very tricky, 'we'll just pay with American Express that way everything is in dollars'. Yeah, OK. I remember the exchange rate being around 70p for 1US$ but Americans felt they were being ripped off for not getting a whole pound for a whole dollar.

Quangle Wed 29-Oct-14 22:11:32

Why don't we have bug screens on the windows in London...

WaltzingWithBares Wed 29-Oct-14 22:16:50

Got teased many a time for wearing seat belt and asked why is it that English people wear seat belts even in the back of a car ...?

Cherrypi Wed 29-Oct-14 22:18:13

I had no idea Australia was that big. blush

yellowsnownoteatwillyou Wed 29-Oct-14 22:19:28

I was asked if it was muddy in Scotland by someone from England. As in she assumed everywhere was like brave heart. And wondered of she would need to bring wellies. I kid you not.
It probably didn't help that I had arrived in England wearing wellies as it had been pouring with rain before I got the train.

InaPuckle Thu 30-Oct-14 21:48:41

My English SIL was once surprised to hear there were hills, mountains even, in Scotland. She had no idea and was surprised we'd gone skiing there. She's now married to a Scotsman grin.

LynetteScavo Thu 30-Oct-14 21:54:52

In Germany I was told it was appalling how some of our elderly couldn't afford to buy prescriptions, and were suffering as a result.....I explained over 60s don't pay for prescriptions, much to their surprise.

mausmaus Thu 30-Oct-14 22:10:04

in the us I was asked if we have microwaves.

and a friend told me that american expats viewed their house. they said of the third bedroom/boxroom 'nice closed, now where is the last bedroom'

in germany they ask about the 'warm' beer and mint sauce with 'everything'

pocketsized Thu 30-Oct-14 22:14:35

When I lived in the states someone once asked me if the leaves fall off the trees in the UK too, and also how they keep the water out of the train on the Eurostar....

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