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People and Culture

You’ve received a place and are moving to the UK. Here’s what to expect.

You probably have a very good picture of the UK in your mind with its many recognisable cultural features and its global influences.

The UK is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which means you could travel from the Shetland Islands off the north coast of Scotland, to the Isles of Scilly in south west England, and then across the sea to Northern Ireland – all within the borders of the UK.

Around 65 million people live in the UK, with most of those in England. The capital of England, and the UK, is London which is the largest city in the country. London is proudly multicultural and multi-faith like most areas of the country. You will be expected to respect other people’s religious beliefs, just as they are expected to respect yours.

The official language of the UK is English, but this isn’t the only native language. You may also hear the Welsh language in Wales; Gaelic and Scots in Scotland, Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland and Cornish in Cornwall. Your English skills will easily see you through your daily life as well as any travels across the UK as it’s spoken fluently across the country.

Weather

When you think of the UK you may well think of rain, so you will be pleased to learn that this isn’t always the case.

Although the UK weather can be unpredictable, it is rarely extreme. The weather may well change multiple times in a day, so even if the weather forecast says it will be dry and warm, you may still want to put a jacket and an umbrella in your study bag!

As a general guide you’ll experience the following weather during the seasons:

  • Summer (June to August): usually the best (and warmest) weather, with long sunny days and perhaps occasional thunderstorms

  • Autumn (September to November): the temperature starts to fall, and the days can be mild and dry or wet and windy

  • Winter (December to February): this is the coldest season, with freezing cold temperatures and the possibility of snow

  • Spring (March to May): usually good weather with sunny spells and sudden showers of rain

Remember, you will need to put your clock forward by one hour on the last Sunday in March. This is the start of Daylight Saving Time for the UK. Daylight saving allows you to make the most of the warmer weather in the spring and summer, with more daylight in the evenings.

Politics and government

The UK is not ruled by the Queen, but the royal family does have a ceremonial role. The UK is a parliamentary democracy, which means the UK citizens elect the Government through a general election (usually held every five years).

The Government of the UK is led by the Prime Minister, with the cabinet (made up of the senior members of government) supporting the prime minister’s role. The government departments or government agencies are t responsible for putting government policy into practice.

Parliament is a separate entity from the Government, and is made up of two houses - the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Parliament’s role is to look at what the Government is doing, and debate the issues as well as passing new laws, and setting taxes.

Local services are operated by local government councils.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own ‘devolved’ administrations which are responsible for a number of domestic policy issues including health, education and transport.

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