The north-south divide
In England, there is a very big and visible divide between two halves of the country: the north and the south. Most people assume that because London is the capital city, it reflects life all over England. In reality, there are many obvious differences between southern and northern culture that you quickly notice once you travel around the country. I was born in the south, but am now at university in the north, so I have seen both cultures first-hand. Here are some of the main differences I have spotted ...
My favourite unhealthy snack that I can never find in the south of England is cheesy chips with gravy. This takeaway classic involves a container of french fries topped with melted cheese, then covered in thick gravy. Pies are also very popular in the north, and I have never seen a battered sausage anywhere else.
Although England is famous for having horrible weather country-wide, the further north you go, the worse it gets. In my first year at Durham University, near Newcastle, we had snow on Halloween, while London had to wait until Christmas Day!
Sometimes I have trouble understanding people with very strong Northern accents because I am not used to them. The Newcastle accent is called the “Geordie” accent, and many foreign students at my university wonder whether they are speaking English! Most people learn English with a southern accent, but if you want to listen to other accents, I recommend watching the comedians Sarah Millican (from Newcastle) or John Bishop (from Liverpool).
There are many expressions used in the South of England that would not be understood in the north – and vice versa! For example, Cockney rhyming slang is hard to understand if you're not from East London. Similarly, people in the north have their own expressions. My grandma, who is from Manchester, calls me 'pet' as an affectionate nickname, and in Newcastle cashiers and taxi drivers call me 'flower'.
It is impossible to say which half of the country is my favourite overall, not least because they are both very diverse. Although I miss the sun when I'm at university, I find the people in the north a lot friendlier and more welcoming ... and of course, the cheesy chips and gravy are a big plus!