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Rules, Britannia: An Insider's Guide to Life in the United Kingdom Hardcover – 1 Feb 2006
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A godsend to Americans trying to negotiate the minefield of British life.. . -- Kate Fox, authot of Watching the English.
How do you respond to a dinner invitation that said "Eight for eight thirty"? What might induce you to get off a London train at a place called Mud Chute? And why do the Brits keep saying "Who's she, the cat's mother?" "Rules, Britannia" is an invaluable resource for Americans who want to make a smooth transition when visiting or relocating to the UK. It is an entertaining and practical insider's guide containing scores of established do's and don'ts from across the pond that only a Brit would know: showing two fingers doesn't mean "peace" in the UK; when driving, never turn on red and for heaven's sake, keep left; and, don't stress over the salad plate. Covering such essential topics as vocabulary, house or "flat" hunting, business culture, child-rearing, and even relationship etiquette, this book will lessen the anxiety that comes with a trans-Atlantic move or extended visit, while giving the reader a leg up on the advanced communication ladder.See all Product description
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Across 22 chapters and an Introduction this book offers practical observations and advice about life in the UK, including chapters on:
- 'Regions and their differences' (for a country that is similar in square miles to many US states, there are a huge number of interesting linguistic and cultural differences between different regions).
- 'Drive Time', which includes facts and laws.
- 'Shop till you drop', which includes loads of information I am ALWAYS asked by relatives or friends coming for a visit or people who contact me through my work for info on shopping in the UK.
- 'The World of Work' (for those who are moving, not just visiting, a really useful run down of info regarding work vocabulary e.g. 'diary' or 'CV' but also words or phrases that might confuse your British colleagues, such as sports related terms like 'touch base' or 'step up to the plate'.
- And possibly less practical but certainly very entertaining are the chapters on such topics as 'Words that Guarantee Embarrassment' (my kids still think it's hilarious that I have a Fanny Farmer Cookbook on my shelf...). Actually, knowing some of these words is probably quite practical.
Other topics include food, entertainment, small children, holidays (vacations), 'Weddings, Funerals and Everything in Between', clothes, crime, and manners.
Every chapter is intelligently written with Hargis' very British humour, and full of useful information. This is no dry reference to moving to the UK. And as I said in my title, 'heads up, Americans!' This book will give you insight that will prevent those mistakes that make you cringe when you're a new expat. I highly recommend it as a present to future and new expats in the UK for the wealth of information, but also to long-term expats such as myself because the book can be read as an entertaining commentary as much as a source of information.
Now Hargis needs to write on for the 'Life in the States'!
As well as being an amusing and easy read - I really enjoyed the conversational narrative - I was pleasantly surprised by how detailed and informative it was. There are so many cultural differences that, as a Brit, I find to be so embedded in the British psyche and way of doing things, I would have struggled to identify them as exclusive to the UK. Reading the book it reminded me how I struggled to fit into the US culture - and this book went some way to explaining why that was the case.
I have since bought this book for American friends moving to the UK, all of whom loved the book and found it to be entertaining and a really practical guide to have to hand. The British / American word comparisons at the end of each chapter, as well as the list of relevant UK online resources, were indispensable.
When I moved back to the UK last year the book was helpful in refreshing my memory - and now it serves as a nostalgic reminder of the cultural differences between the two countries I have lived in. I have found many people underestimate the extent of the differences between the two countries - and this book summed it all up nicely for me.
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