Weird things Londoners do (as seen through the eyes of an intrepid Italian)
I’m sure that there are plenty of things that Brits or Londoners would find strange about how we live in Italy. But having spent the last four weeks in London as the EF Global Intern, I’ve noticed so many special and weird things that Londoners do. Hope you find these as interesting – and endearing – as I do.
People wave at the bus to stop it
On my way to my first day of work, I was waiting for the bus at a bus stop near Angel station. After a few minutes, it finally arrived, it passed near me and it just kept on going without stopping for me. It basically flew by. I was very confused by the whole thing, so I asked people around me why the bus didn’t stop. A woman told me that if you need to get on the bus, you have to tell it, by waving your hands for the bus to stop! That was new for me. In Italy, when you’re at the bus stop, the bus just stops because you are waiting for it in the right place, without having to dance or do any other movement at all.
Everybody is jogging at 8am
I was surprised by how many Londoners were jogging to work really early in the morning. Lots of locals seem to be using the early morning hours very efficiently by running or cycling from point A to point B, wearing cool sports gear and giant backpacks. It’s a smart move, given that it combines the two things most of us have to do, but kind of dread: exercising and commuting. And given that London is full of beautiful parks and vast green spaces, it’s a city that motivates people to move, run and exercise. In Italy, in comparison, we are pretty lazy and you mostly see people in scooters, cars or public transport in the morning. But what really surprised me was the timing. Italians, when they do exercise, they do that after work…not at 8am!
Nobody pushes to get on the underground
Let me explain. I live in Milan and we have the underground there as well, but the difference is that people will push anything or anybody to get on the train. Here in London, people are calm and very respectful on public transportation. I was going on the District line the other day and the underground was full, or, so I thought. When the train arrived everybody started queuing in a very neat way. When people realized the train was almost full they preferred waiting for the next one, rather than squeeze together. You see, in Italy these things don’t happen; queues don’t exist, people are more stressed and never willing to wait for another train. Everybody is pushing in order to get on the train and if we see a small spot where we might fit, we push and try our best to get that spot on the train. Which brings me to the next weird thing that Londoners do…
There is a queue for everything. Seriously, everything.
Queuing is what British people are known for and very, very good at. I’ve never queued so much in my entire life. In London there’s a queue for everything; restaurants, bathrooms, the Underground, stores and more. Since people are very used to queuing, they come prepared. They have books to read, podcasts to listen to, computers to work with and coffee to drink while waiting. I was surprised when I saw a queue forming at the bus stop. Coming from a country where people generally push to get on (see previous point), the fact that here in London everybody respects queues creates a more organized and serene environment, even in such a big city.
The washing machine is in the kitchen
When I first walked into the kitchen of the apartment where I’m staying here in London, I noticed the washing machine in the kitchen and spent a good few minutes genuinely wondering what it was doing there. I have seen washing machines in the kitchens before, but only in very old apartments. But apparently in London this is the norm, even in fancier, bigger apartments or houses. I think the kitchen is a weird place to place your washing machine and where I come from, in the absence of a utility room designed for washing and hanging laundry, the bathroom would be a more natural place to put it.