Some answers to questions raised by Sytaxia.
1). Is there one legal driving age across the
Our age for driving is 17, except on private land where it’s up to the landowner.
Each country is split into a number of counties for various administrative purposes. Counties set different rules for schools admissions etc, but in most matters counties do not set their own rules, and never their own laws. County Councils have responsibility for running roads, hospitals, schools, stuff like that.
2). I've always heard that 18 was the legal drinking age in the
18 is the legal drinking age across the whole country (we tend to use the word country for the whole lot, and for the individual countries within it!
3). How old does one have to be to be tried as an adult in the
The age of criminal responsibility is 10, but I think you get tried as an adult at 16 – only guessing though. 16 is the minimum legal age for marriage, for sexual consent and for leaving school. 17 is the age for driving and joining the Army. 18 is the age for drinking and voting.
6). Is Sam likely to have gone to university, or not? Is training/technical college very common, as opposed to university?
Sam did not go to university. We worked out that he left school at 18 – presumably after A-Levels – because he said “1988 was a good year – year I graduated from the Force”, which we are guessing was
7). I know from talking to a friend of mine that they only spent three years for a BA in the UK, and that they only studied inside of their concentration - is this common in the UK? In the
No, most BA/BSc degrees are 3 years, and you have a single “major” as you call it. The exception would be a languages degree where you are expected to spend a year in the foreign country, or something like Business Studies where you might spend a couple of 6-month periods in industry placements. There is no compulsion whatsoever to study a minor or any other subject.
8). Sam referenced something called "BUPA," and when I looked that up, I found out it was a form of health insurance - do many people in the UK have health insurance? I always thought that the NHS covered everything that wasn't cosmetic... What are the limitations of the NHS? One of the things that's always made Western Europe seem so much better than the
As an over-simplification, most people who have BUPA or similar have it as a perk from their employers. I don’t think most people pay for it themselves. Perks arose because a previous Labour Government laid down strict rules about the amount of pay increases companies could give their staff. To get round this, employers started improving people’s packages with cars, shares, health insurance etc. The “Prices and Incomes Policy” is long gone, but the perks are still there, except they’re more harshly treated nowadays for tax.
The limitation of the NHS is simply money, as it’s paid for by taxes; also, because it’s a pretty large organisation and it’s not exactly staffed by the kind of people who know how to run anything, it can be pretty inefficient. If you turn up at Casualty / A&E / ER with something that’s not life-threatening, you could sit there waiting for 6-8 hours, but you will in the end get seen, and it will be free. In general, emergencies will be seen pretty quickly and given the appropriate up-to-date treatment. Where the whole thing doesn’t work so well, is with things like cancer, hip replacements etc, where people may have to wait an unacceptably long time to get scans, consultations etc, and they may be refused certain expensive new drugs.
People have things like BUPA simply in order to get seen more quickly. Also, if it turns out to be serious, BUPA will cover the cost of the drugs etc that the NHS cannot afford to give to everyone who needs them.
9). How far across the
In towns, it’s not too bad without a car. I live in a town of about 7,000 people, and we have trains to local larger towns (eg clothes shops, department stores) and to
The villages which use my town as a local banking/supermarket/railway centre have 2-3 buses per day. If you live there without a car, you are severely limited; people often have to get lifts and hire minibuses to get their children to secondary schools (11-18).
10). Are there many schools taught in foreign languages in the
Until very recently, all schools, and all lessons within them, were taught in English, even when the pupils were Welsh- or Gaelic-speaking. This country is totally crap at teaching languages. We basically start teaching languages at secondary school, ie at exactly the point when the language-learning parts of the brain shut up shop. Someone else may be able to tell you more about Welsh-medium schools, and I’m sure a read about a whole ONE gaelic-medium school.