On other people

How to be more English? (3) On Other People

England is definitely one of the most liberal countries on earth. This is a paradox. The class divide still to some extent exists over here, the legal system is rather stringent, as is the immigration law, yet we strongly believe this is a very liberal country. And more so than US, contradicting some other common preconceptions.

Although the English society has changed greatly since the Second World War, the division between the lower- and the upper-class did not vanish. Believe us or not, but the class struggle continues ;-). This can be especially well seen where education is concerned: on average upper-class is educated in a completely different kind of schools from the ones the working class attends. Obviously, this is by no means a legally enforced system. It rather sits in people's minds and carries on its inertia. And diminishes in importance as great efforts are put into overcoming this divide.

Still the words 'posh' and 'common' are worth learning. As are 'sociable' and 'antisocial'. The former is a strong requirement herebeing solitary is rather shameful. The latter is a name for any thing that is inconsiderate towards other people. (And has nothing to do with not willing to do something voluntarily for the people of the country, as the immediate association for a Pole might be.)

Having said that, we want to stress that England is a perfect place for any kind of strange people, who do not necessarily feel very sociable all the time. In fact, in its history England has been home for many outstanding individuals on exile.  However, it does not mean that it is very easy to immigrate over here, as many a refugee may assert.

The English pride themselves on having long tradition in religious tolerance. Although we are no authority on history, our vague memories are that this tradition is rather recent after all. Anyway, that is the state of things now and the English society shows great tolerance for religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The English are not xenophobic either. Being a foreigner in England is not a hassle at all, as it still can be in many other countries (not to mention Poland). But that also means you are treated as an Englishman. So little attention is paid to your 'unique cultural background' and little is done for instance to prevent the so-called 'cultural shock'a common experience of people coming from abroad and the main focus of the American Universities' policies towards international students. As our friend put it once: 'They don't care over here whether you're English or not, because they know you'll become English very soon'. That 's sort of right.


Put the words into action

Resume monarchical duties over your siblings. Being called 'Your Royal Highness' somehow makes one feel more confident. Show extreme tolerance towards your cousins and wild fury animals. Be sociable. And when you feel someone's actions are antisocial inform him. So that he knows it is unacceptable. And do remember about an occasional condescending smile for all those people who do not read these little gems of wisdom every week.

Good luck! And join us in 7 days to discover what 'water' does of 'polo'!


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