Former Coordinator for International Relations at Nagasaki Prefectural Government
Lived in Nagasaki from August 2013 to August 2018
Hello from England, everyone! My name’s Will and I was a Coordinator for International Relations for Nagasaki Prefecture! How are you all?
And, those of you who just thought, “Wait, wasn’t Will an American?” are correct! I am American, but I followed my British wife to England after leaving Nagasaki. My life as a foreigner may never end, lol.
I’ve been here for over a month, but my feelings of culture shock still haven’t completely subsided. Like America, England is also part of the English-speaking world, but I find myself surprised by many things here. And to compare England to Japan, I’ve noticed something interesting about how the people around me react when I speak.
In Japan, for example, I can see store clerks get a bit nervous when I enter their shops. I don’t look Japanese whatsoever, so I imagine they worry that I might not speak Japanese.
But, happily, after I converse with them a bit, I can see their relief. I grew to be quite proud of those reactions, lol. But it’s the opposite in England!
I look like any other British person, so when I speak to a clerk with my American accent it jars them! I sometimes feel I owe them an apology, haha! But, to the English, foreign people in their country are not rare, nor do they particularly draw much attention. There are many, many expats in this country.
A diverse crowd outside Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
The number of expats in England exceeds that of Japan in both number and percentage. Japan is known as a country with a low number of foreigners, and as of December of 2017 there were 2,560,000 of them. That makes up about 2% of the population.
So, if you meet 100 people on a street in Japan, only two of them will likely be non-Japanese.
But what about the UK? It’s time for a pop quiz ^^
Q. Foreign people make up what percent of the population of the United Kingdom?
What do you think? The answer is… C! 14.4%! That translates to 1 out of every 7 you meet on the street being foreign. That’s quite a lot, don’t you think?
Did any of you think that D’s 41.1% was utterly impossible? Well, believe it or not, that’s the percentage of foreigners in the city of London! It’s almost half of the whole city! You can hear so many different languages and accents when walking around London. So cosmopolitan 🙂
London also has a few different “Little (fill in the blank)” areas where immigrants have settled together. I recently went to Southall which is known as “Little India”. When I stepped off the train, I found a sign just like this.
“Welcome to Southall” in English and Punjabi
As you can see, the sign has English and one other language printed. I had to look up what that other language was, and it turned out to be Punjabi. Punjabi is mainly spoken in Pakistan and north-west India and has the 12th largest base of native speakers in the world. However, it’s the third most spoken language in the UK after English and Polish!
Since I came to Southall, I just had to try some of the Indian food here, so I visited an Indian restaurant ^^ The inside of the menu was all written in English, but there was only one dish with a name recognizable to me. “Business lunch, please.” I said to the waitress in a shy voice (lol).
The vegetarian business lunch in little India (£ 5.75)
Here’s the business lunch I ordered! This load of spicy goodness was piled high on my metal tray. Even the white food, which looks like it might be creamy and mild was also hot ^^; The heat made me sweat, but it was all so tasty!
I hope to continue to find interesting things about England and write you all again! Take care!
If you’re interested in more of my experiences in England, please check out my blog at: