There are many subtle differences one will inevitably notice after moving to London. Dependent on where one hails from in the States London can be cozy and friendly or downright rude. Many Americans moving to London for the first time confuse British humor and well-controlled emotions as cold and uncaring. Nothing could be farther from the truth! To truly appreciate the British all those moving to London must accept themselves as Londoners and let go of the tourist way of thinking.
One of the many issues that come up almost immediately upon moving from the United States is the quality of service – or lack thereof. In the United States all those who work in the service industries make below minimum wage with tips supplementing the rest of their income. The idea behind this policy is that if one gets paid based upon the quality of their service they will work harder.
This policy usually works and Americans are trained well when it comes to tipping. So much so that usually most people don’t even think about the tip – they just pay their fifteen or twenty percent and go on with their day. Upon arriving in London however Americans are taken aback by the lack of tipping. In the UK, as in most of Europe, service industry workers like waiters and waitresses are paid fair wages and tips are not expected.
Unfortunately, many moving here believe the service they receive is less than that in the US. This is a classic case of cultural differences. Expectations of service professionals are quite different than that in America. The British are a very reserved people to begin and service professionals do not believe their job is to be one’s friend. Rather, their job is to provide top-notch service efficiently with as little disruption as possible.
So the next time one feels they are being snubbed or treated rudely by a waitress after moving they should stop to consider the culture and whether the rudeness is intentional or just a difference in expectations. Part of moving to London is the adoption, or at least acceptance, of new cultural norms and one must do this in order to have an enjoyable experience during their stay in the city.