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The UK / Great Britain is a country that welcomes more than half-a-million migrants per year. Many newcomers to the UK may feel they are in for quite the culture shock but many of the common myths about the UK are outdated or just not true. We’re going to aim to clear up some of them. 
 

Foggy London Town 

Many people believe that London is a city where you can barely see your hand in front of your face through the fog. Frank Sinatra sang a song about it "A Foggy Day in London Town". Cheers, Frank. 
 
Anyway, this isn’t true – anymore. 
 
The reason for the fog, and London’s nickname of “The Big Smoke”, was down to people burning sea-coal. This was a problem we were aware of as far back as 1306 when King Edward I tried to ban soft coal burning. This didn’t happen for 700 years. 
 
It took an event called “The Great Smog of 1952” to finally force through an act which later became known as the Clean Air Act of 1956. 12,000 died between 1952-1956 as a result of the smog but now the air is clear, and you can see the black cabs and the pigeons in all their glory. 

UK, Great Britain, England = All the Same Thing 

While the UK is pretty small it is broken up into four separate countries and England is just one of them. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland make up the rest of the United Kingdom and often have strong views about their own cultural identity. 
 
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have their own governments and cultures that they are immensely proud of. 
The Act of Union came into effect in 1707 after centuries of speculation about whether the nations would officially unite. The name the United Kingdom was adopted in 1801. 
 
There are also a number of small islands around the larger island that are part of Great Britain, but not part of the United Kingdom - confused? Don't worry, so are we!  
 

The Queen Runs the Show 

The Queen obviously has many responsibilities when it comes to her role as monarch, including: appointing high-ranking clergymen, granting knighthoods, babysitting the grandkids, etc.  
 
She also has the right to dismiss ministers, choose a Prime Minister, declare war, and issue passports. When it comes to the day-to-day running of the country; that is down the Prime Minister.  
 
The Prime Minister holds all the real political power and makes the decisions. 

Free Healthcare for All 

Almost! The National Health Service (NHS) was launched in 1948 after years of conversations about a state health service. In fact, calls for a unified health service began as early as 1909! In the beginning, the NHS had three core principles: That it meets the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery, and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay. 
 
So far so good, right? Well, rather ironically, dental care is not free. You also need to pay for eyeglasses and prescriptions. 
 
If you are a short-term visitor to the UK, you will be allowed access to emergency treatment but not for an appointment because your eyes hurt from playing video games for too long (that actually happened). 
If, as a result of your emergency treatment, you are admitted to hospital and then issued a prescription, you will have to pay (if you are a short-term visitor), so make sure you have medical insurance. 
 

That These Guys Were Real 

  Sherlock Holmes 

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. 
 
 
 
 
 

 Robin Hood 

Another Fictional character. Robin Hood was depicted in English folklore and was said to have fought in the crusades.  
 
 

    Phileas Fogg 

Fictional character created by Jules Verne in the novel “Around the World in Eighty Days” 

Rain, Rain, Wind, and More Rain 

Did you know it rains more in Hawaii than in London? Now where do you want to go on holiday?! 
 
A common misconception is that the weather in the UK is awful. Well… it’s ok. Last year we had an average of 1,154mm of rainfall. When you compare that to the 23,500mm that falls per year in Meghalaya, India – we can see that the UK isn’t that wet. Granted that monsoons make up 70% of India's rainfall. 
 
In 2018, the UK reached highs of 35 C, which was only 3 C lower than our highest ever. 
 
Of course, this very much depends on the time of the year and this year we have seen our weather fluctuate. Sunshine in November?! 
 
So, in this case, you should check the weather reports before you come. 

UK is Part of the EU 

Too Soon?  
 
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