Arriving in London for the first time is not scary - it’s absolutely terrifying! But it’s also a new, exciting and unforgettable experience. You are forced out of your comfort zone in such an abrupt way your emotional reactions are thrown into disarray. Embarrassment ceases to be a problem. Instead, life unravels like a film in front of your eyes - each scene more bewildering than the next. You find yourself in strange situations, like barely knowing what a pound looks like the first day you are supposed to be working the till, or not knowing what a till is, because you only learned the word “cash register” at school. But somehow, with a smile and large degree of humility, you manage it and soon, like us Country Managers at ADC, you will have plenty of stories to share.
During my first weeks in London, I quickly discovered that not only was my level of English worse than I thought, but also my very Austrian and direct way of communicating was interpreted as rude rather than honest. Being someone who prides herself on eloquence and politeness, this was highly demotivating. I asked people to spell every new word to me and tried to pick up common sayings to get a better feel for the use of the language. It helped me improve my English very quickly, yet also led to many funny mispronunciations and desperately made-up words, like: “I will have a lion” instead of “I will have a lie-in”, “berry wheel” instead of “wheel barrow” and “tooth meat” instead of “gums”.
I also explained my well-being to British people in great detail every time they asked how I was doing, only realising a minute later it had been a polite way of saying hello. The same thing happened when someone said “take care”. I always explained I would be very careful and told them they should “keep up the approach”. If the person hadn’t already left by that point, they would just look at me confusedly.
Daniela, Country Manager Austria
Three days following my relocation to London, I got a job working in a chain pub not far from Trafalgar Square. I had never worked in a bar before and in Sweden, where I’m from, people tend to go for the house wine, leaving me with little knowledge about regions in France and types of grapes. I was only 19 and the wines I had been drinking were probably mostly from inconspicuous cartons anyway. So when a nicely dressed English lady asked for “a small glass of Pinot Grigio”, I proudly served her a half pint glass, filled to the brim with our best peanuts!
Linnea, Country Manager Sweden/Norway
One of the first things you do when you arrive in the UK looking for work, is to go to the Job Centre and get your National Insurance number. In Germany, this place is known for housing some ‘grey’ characters. So I was in for a surprise when I stepped into the office in East London. During my appointment, the officer didn’t miss a chance to throw in a joke. After the appointment, I had left my coat on a bench in the waiting area to make a quick phone call and when I returned, my coat was gone! I began asking people around me if they had noticed anyone removing my coat, when suddenly, all smiling and laughing, the officer held it up. He had tricked me yet again! This was probably the funniest experience I have had in a local authority. From that moment on, I knew it was true. British people just love a bit of fun!
Lena, Country Manager Germany
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