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In my English classes at school in Poland I was told that everyone loves the Queen and that people eat beans for breakfast and fish and chips for lunch. However, I have to say as soon as I landed at London Luton Airport, a lot of what I knew about this country burst like soap bubbles.

I had decided to move to Bedfordshire because of the course I wanted to do at the university, however, it was quite a surprise to me that sometimes it felt more like home than a brand new town in a brand new country.

After a couple of days in Luton, I was amazed how one town can be so diverse and busy yet still remind me of the city I came from. It definitely wasn’t all fish and chips and the Queen like I expected. So here are 10 things I learnt after moving to Bedfordshire from Poland.

Read more: The long lost Bedfordshire railway stations that have closed

London Luton Airport

This might sound like an odd thing to not know before I arrived in Luton. I knew there was an airport in Luton, but before I moved in, I didn’t know that at times it was going to be cheaper to buy a plane ticket to Spain, Italy or Poland than to buy a travel card to London.

It seems like this is one of the best benefits of living in Bedfordshire. It’s an easy gateway if I miss home or I want to visit Rome or Malaga.

The ticket prices may vary. If you are lucky, you can buy a return ticket to Poland for £20 or to Italy for £30.

Other cultures

When I was leaving home I had no idea that I would meet so many Polish people in Bedfordshire. It was definitely a surprise, but a welcome one – having Polish restaurants and shops is a benefit.

Whenever I miss a Polish dish or need a Polish product, I’ll most likely still be able to find it in Luton or Bedford. In fact at times I can be wandering through the town centre and hear the familiar sounds of a polish accent and feel a taste of home.

I knew that arriving in a new country I would have an accent, but who doesn’t? I definitely didn’t feel out of place in Bedfordshire though, hearing other languages including Romanian or Punjabi spoken around the town centre.

I feel that any person coming to Bedfordshire from a different country won’t stand out so much. Bedfordshire is a county filled with diversity, which I had no idea about before arriving here.

London – a benefit or a nightmare to your wallet?

Before I applied to the University of Bedfordshire, I did some research. All the leaflets boasted about “living just half an hour train ride from London”.

This sounds like a dream for a foreign student who has never been to the UK. I thought I would be visiting London every weekend.

Little did I know that living close to London is expensive. Bedfordshire isn’t cheap compared to the north side of the country.

Rent, food, bills, and house prices are not that much cheaper than in London and a trip to the capital is a pricy day out. So it turns out no, I’m not going to London every weekend.

Lack of nightlife

I expected Luton to be thriving when it came to nightlife. However, since I have been here, I wouldn’t call it thriving.

As a student, you don’t mind it, you’ve got pubs to drink in and if you want to go dancing, choose Bedford and you will find one or two places. But as a young adult in your mid-twenties or above, I feel the nightlife in Luton is lacking.

When I want to go to a club I end up going to St Albans or London. I could be missing some great places to visit though so let us know in the comments.

Friendly atmosphere in the offices

There was a TikTok that went viral recently in which polite English people greet each other in the morning at work, specifically in the office.

For those who don’t follow TikTok, the video sounded like this:

– “Morning Jill, morning Tracy.”

– “How are you?

– “I’m good and you?”

– “Good, you?”

And the question goes on and on for a couple more times. This is something I’ve realised is definitely accurate for greetings in England. It’s clear that chatting is a big part of offices here.

Unfriendly atmosphere on the roads

Speaking about being friendly – that word doesn’t exist in the dictionary when you talk about roads and driving in Bedfordshire. I must admit I have only been driving in the UK for just over a year, but there was a reason why I delayed the decision on buying a car.

It sometimes feels like some rules don’t exist here. Drivers are often rude, and in a hurry, and you just hope nobody will scratch your car on those narrow streets.

Indicators, what is that? Why would you use it? Instead, you become friends with honking, and you end up becoming rude yourself to fit in. I’m not sure if my blue Fiat500, which I have named Smurf, is prepared for this environment.

Dressing down

A tracksuit, no make-up day and a messy bun will become your reality. Girls and women in Poland like to dress up nicely, have make-up on and do their hair.

Let me tell you, living in Luton changes you – and I think this might be the whole country. If I went to a grocery shop in Poland, I would feel the pressure to make sure I wear nice clothes and look decent.

And in the UK? I mastered my messy bun on my head, have plenty of t-shirts, and tracksuits and I don’t wear make-up until I meet with someone, and sometimes I won’t even wear it then. In my experience, people in Bedfordshire are just more relaxed and will compliment you even when you look your worst but for them, you look just fine.

Safari trip

Who wouldn’t like to visit a safari? Living in Bedfordshire you can do that without even leaving the country – which I was not expecting.

Woburn Safari Park is situated in Central Bedfordshire and on a visit you can see live lions, elephants and other wild animals.

Almost a “perfect” trip when you are on a student budget, or when paying for a journey with your family to Kenya is not an option.

The only thing you need is a car. The trip lasts an hour and a half and the drive-through safari will deliver some excitement into your daily life. Also, the park offers indoor and outdoor play areas, perfect for a Sunday trip with friends or family.

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