What do expats miss most about Britain

Published:  9 May at 6 PM
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Expats working overseas often can’t simply take a trip back when they’re experiencing homesickness or missing everyday things they can’t get in their new countries of residence.

In the real world, most expats experience bouts of homesickness however long they’ve been away, but few have the total freedom to up sticks and return for a month or so of pure nostalgia. Homesickness is usually triggered by holidays such as Christmas, birthdays or simply by missing favourite foods, sights and symbols. The ‘green and pleasant land’, even if it’s seen through rose-coloured glasses, still has the power to trigger nostalgia in even the most stalwart Brits.

Nowadays, there are British expats living, working or retiring in almost every corner of the world. Those in former colonial outposts, however foreign, may recognise similarities between their present location and the UK, but certain untranslatable and irreconcilable British eccentricities and even foodstuffs are forced to exist only in expat memories.

Perhaps the most representative is the incurable British obsession with a nice cup of tea, to be offered to guests and friends on all occasions, whether joyful or tragic. True Brits, however, insist it’s impossible to get a cup of traditional British tea anywhere else in the world, even in India! Similarly loved and missed, it seems, is a slab of Cadbury’s chocolate, with its unique taste impossible to find anywhere else even if the brand name is the same.

Baked beans are totally British, as the rest of the world’s population just can’t understand why they’re so popular. Expat-aimed supermarkets overseas do occasionally stock them, but at a price which makes the average Brit’s eyes water. Cricket is the most-missed sport, especially if it’s played in the rain, and the British sense of humour is perhaps the only product proven to be exportable. Think Monty Python, Ricky Gervaise and even Charlie Chaplin, and you’re back in the UK however long you’ve been away.

Perhaps the most-loved aspect of Britain for many expats are the streets of London, with their magnificent mix of ultra-modern and stunningly historic buildings all telling the city’s 2,000 year old tale. London’s entire history from Roman times to the crazy 21st century is there, with Roman ruins set alongside Elizabethan pubs, Georgian terraces and the soaring skyscrapers of modern times. Many expats will have lived in homes between one and two hundred years old, making them part of the kaleidoscope of history which is London.
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