A key attraction of travelling to London for many international students is the chance to make new connections with native Brits and international students. But it can be difficult to know how to start a conversation and what to talk about, especially when visiting a new culture for the first time. Here are four conversation topics common in the UK that you can use to meet new friends around town, down the pub or between classes.
The UK’s grey and rainy weather is infamous around the world, but see this as an opportunity for conversation topics. We Brits love to complain, and a morning of drizzle or a torrential downpour in the afternoon gives us a great excuse. Some useful phrases for talking about the rain include “it’s spitting” for very light rain and “it’s pouring” for really heavy rain. You might have heard the well-known idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs”, but this isn’t very commonly used in the UK. A more common (and more logical!) idiom that you could use is “it’s raining buckets”. And since we are not often blessed with blue skies and sunshine, we leap at every opportunity to soak up some sun. So don’t be surprised if the whole town runs to a local park in shorts and t-shirts as soon as the sun comes out. If you come from a country with a warmer climate, you can make your new friends envious with descriptions of summery days spent outside.
What to do when it’s drizzling outside and you want to meet some new people? Head to a cosy pub and try a local beer, of course! The UK has many well-established beer brands, as well as a growing number of younger craft breweries. Look at which “draft” beers the pub has on offer (the beers you can see “on tap” at the bar) or ask to see the bottled ones. Remember that the Brits call the golden-coloured drink such as Heineken “lager”, but the more traditional British beer is brown in colour and called “bitter”. Learn a little about the different types of British beer, and you can compare tasting notes with your friends.
If you’re a footie fan, there’s no better way to get in with a new crowd than watching and discussing a match together. Listening to football commentary is also a challenging but really effective way to improve your English comprehension skills. During half time you can share opinions on the ref’s decisions, the line-up and tactics, and your pick for the man of the match. Be prepared though: many Brits are ardent fans of their local football team, and debates can become quite heated!
London is a multicultural place, and locals will be curious to learn more about where you come from. Share some details about your favourite food from your region, your local history and culture, and give recommendations for any curious travellers thinking of visiting your region. This way you’ll be sure to encourage locals to tell you some interesting things about London and the UK in return.
We hope you put these to good use and make some fantastic new acquaintances on your trip to London. If you’re an international student making preparations to move to London, be sure to check out our UK cultural guide for international students here.
Need a Homestay in London?
If you are an overseas student and planning a trip to London, have you considered staying in host family accommodation? Homestay is a great way to find your feet in a new country and benefit from the support of your host family.
If you need help finding a homestay (“host family”) in London, then feel free to contact us!