Generally, British people are relaxed rather than formal. Although they can appear quiet and reserved this does not mean that they are unfriendly. Basic politeness and good manners are expected, but most people will not be offended if you do not do the 'right thing'.
When you arrive you will have to learn to cope with a way of life quite different to that in your own country. Most young people quickly adjust to their new life and find it interesting and exciting. Other international students will be feeling the same way and by meeting them, and making new British friends, you will soon make it your second home.
British people are generally tolerant of others. You are entirely free to live according to your personal standards and should not feel pressurised to adopt behaviour that you find uncomfortable. Similarly, you should have respect for other people's way of life.
British people will chat casually to someone they have just met. However, there are some occasions where formalities are observed, such as at meetings or in interviews. The most important thing for you to remember is that different people have different expectations; if you are not sure how to behave or react, just ask.
Increasingly, there are restrictions on smoking in public places in the UK. You must obey no-smoking signs in cafes, restaurants and on public transport. In company it is considered rude to start smoking without asking the people you are with. You must not smoke illegal substances such as marijuana.
Some countries have a special arrangement with Britain whereby you may exchange your home licence for a British licence by completing form D100, obtainable from post offices, and sending it to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre, Swansea.
You may be able to drive using your current licence for up to 12 months and then take a test. Alternatively, you may be able to exchange your licence for a British licence or apply for a provisional licence and then take a test. Further information is available from UKCOSA website at www.ukcosa.org.uk 'Driving in Great Britain: a guide for international students'.
To drive a car or ride a motorbike you must take out at least third party insurance and have a current driving licence. The insurance market is very competitive and we recommend comparing rates from a selection of insurance brokers.
Almost all types of food and many other goods can be purchased in British supermarkets and large supermarkets now exist in all towns.
There are also smaller town centre food stores and a weekly outdoor market.
In most shops, fresh food will have a 'sell by' date, after which these items are not sold. Increasingly, food also has a 'use by' date. After this date the food is no longer fresh and should not be eaten.
There are shops that sell specialist and regional foods and increasingly these are also available in larger supermarkets.
You may find it helps you to keep in touch with what is going on at home by reading your own national newspapers. Many are available in larger newsagents or can be ordered for you.
Supermarkets open early and close late. They can be open for 24 hours per day, except Sunday when opening is restricted. Other shops have opening hours of 9.00am - 5.30pm.
Please note that you must pay the price displayed on the shelf, or on the label attached to the article. There is no bargaining in British shops.
Most shops have a counter or checkout at which you pay and there may be a queue of people waiting. People will be very upset if you try to join the front of the queue.
You usually pay for your goods by cash, Switch/Delta debit card, a cheque with a guarantee card or credit card. When you enter the shop, there should be signs telling you which cards are accepted.
The following points are general guidelines about how to behave in the UK:
It is important to be on time for formal meetings, interviews, classes and lectures. You should be on time if you arrange to meet someone or are invited to someone's house.
British people sometimes shake hands but you should not take an unwillingness to shake hands as unusual or a sign of dislike. British people do not usually hug or kiss people they are meeting for the first time.
If you are not sure how to address someone, be direct and simply ask 'What do you like to be called?'. Most students will want to be called by their first name. Some staff may want you to call them Mr, Miss, Mrs or Doctor, but many will be happy for you to use their first name. Ask or follow the example of others. In Britain the family name always comes last, for example John Smith. If you are addressing someone formally, you use their title (Mr Mrs etc) followed by their family name. For example, if you are addressing Mrs Ann Smith, you would call her 'Mrs Smith' not 'Mrs Ann'.
You may be invited to someone's home for a meal. There are no rules about taking something with you, although many will take something to drink (not necessarily alcoholic), flowers or chocolates. If it is traditional in your own country to take a particular kind of gift, then do so, and explain the tradition to your host.
In the UK men and women have equal rights and status and mix easily. Many women are very independent and will socialise freely with men. However, this does not mean that they are willing to enter into sexual relationships.
British women will dress to suit themselves and may have more independence than in your own culture.
You should feel safe in most areas during daylight hours. However, as in most countries, you should be cautious about where you walk at night and avoid walking alone in poorly lit streets or quiet areas. Do not get into strangers' cars at any time.
Britain is a relatively safe country in which to live and North Wiltshire a very safe part of the country with crime rates at very low levels. However everyone needs to be careful and sensible and recognise risks.
Make sure your purse or wallet is carried securely. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Keep your money in the bank rather than your room and do not leave your bag, purse or other valuables unattended.
Take out insurance on valuables in case of loss or theft. Always remember to lock your door and windows when you leave your room.
Pubs are popular meeting places for students. Drinking alcohol is not compulsory and pubs and bars sell a wide range of 'soft drinks' such as cola, lemonade and fruit juices. Pubs are generally for over 18s although you will increasingly find families eating and drinking in pubs. There is no waiter service and you pay for drinks as you order them from the bar.
Where there is a queue (line), you must join the end of it and wait your turn; British people can get very annoyed if you push in when others have been waiting longer.
British people always talk about the weather - mainly because it is so changeable and unpredictable.
The average daytime winter temperature is 6°C. At night it may drop below zero but this does not last very long. July and August are the warmest months with an average maximum temperature of 25°C.
When you arrive in September, the average daytime temperature will be 15-18°C.
Winters can be very damp, which makes it seem colder than it is. It can rain at any time of the year with rainfall varying from light showers to heavy downpours. Snow can fall from December through to March, but is increasingly rare, especially in the southern areas.
It may take a while for you to get used to British humour. British jokes and good humour are often based on teasing others and can take the form of picking on aspects of an individual's personality and exaggerating them in fun. If you are offended - tell the person concerned that you are uncomfortable with the joke.
These are very important words in English and are used more often than most other countries. It is considered polite to use 'please' when making requests, e.g. 'please may I have a glass of water' and 'thank you' when you have received something from another person.
King Henry VIII was said by some to have stayed at Lackham House during a visit to the west country.