Fish and Chips, all the time?

Michael R. Czinkota

Applicants for British citizenship face a rigorous test with some questions too obscure even for natives. According to a mock test for its British staff, the Wall Street Journal found that many couldn’t answer the questions correctly.

The compulsory citizenship test was first announced in 2002. Lord David Blunkett, home secretary at the time, initiated the test. Originally, it aimed to help people know things which make local life easy and safe. Tony Blair’s government also wanted to show encouragement and welcome immigrants via the test. Now, the test is up for review. What does it mean to be British? Here are some examples.

Where did the people of the Bronze Age bury their dead? Who first introduced “shampooing” to the U.K.? Does “having the ability to laugh at oneself” represent an important part of the British character? Do the British eat fish and chips for every lunch?

Immigrants must pass such mandatory questions in order to obtain British citizenship. The test has become harder in reaction to the surge of aspiring Britons from emerging nations. Given Brexit and Britain’s possible drop-out from the EU, more Europeans are also taking the test to ensure their right to remain in the U.K.

By comparison, Switzerland also has a naturalization test based on acculturation. The State Secretariat for Migration examines whether applicants are integrated in the Swiss way of life, familiar and accepting of Swiss customs and traditions, able to comply with the Swiss rule of law, and not threatening to Switzerland’s internal or external security.

The Swiss government also makes its naturalization test harder as of 2018. Swiss migration regulations seem stricter than the U.K.’s. A non-EU citizen can apply for a Swiss permanent residence permit after living in Switzerland for 10 years. Naturalization as a Swiss citizen takes 12 years, while in the UK it takes only 5 years. Passing the test is only the start of a process rather than a guarantee of citizenship. 

The oral test for language assessment seems to be a particular obstacle for many applicants. But yodeling is not required. “What would you say is typically Swiss?”  is a question on the Swiss citizenship test. Swiss women with a gold lace cap preparing the Cheese Fondue for her family might be the first image to pop out your head. But is that always true?

It’s interesting that when you search the term of “British citizenship test” or “Swiss citizenship test” on Google, the first page results will mainly offer test preparation services. The cottage industry coaching applicants for the citizenship test has become increasingly popular.  Due to harder tests and stricter application processes, this industry will likely expand substantially in the near future.

Is it time to rethink the concept of a citizenship test? Should there be only one version of a country’s culture? How can governments identify different characteristics of citizens and translate those into behavioral norms, especially in the diverse European environment? Diversity makes life more interesting but also more unexpected. There is much enjoyment nowadays with many different foods, fashions and habits in the UK and Switzerland. What is the value and price of homogeneity? 

There might well be a need to insist on a common spirituality supporting national underpinnings. Some criteria may need to be adjusted and individual support of them affirmed for citizenship to work! Otherwise people are visitors, a fine and useful role, but different from citizens. Not everyone needs fish and chips for lunch. How about dumplings? Or hot dry noodles?

Professor Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international marketing and trade at Georgetown University and the University of Kent in Canterbury. His latest book is “In Search For The Soul of International Business”, (Businessexpertptress.com) 2019

Shiying Wang (sw1115@georgetown.edu) of McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University contributed to this commentary.

A Month Across the Pond: My Time at Kent Business School

This past month, I had the great opportunity to travel to England, where I taught a seminar session on International Business in a Dynamic Environment in Canterbury. Over the course of four weeks we discussed the many different aspects of International Business with students, and the discussion proved to be both deep and mind opening.

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Why Thanksgiving Is the Best Time to Travel Business – Huff Post

By Huff Post

Everyone’s getting ready for turkey and some serious travel, but maybe what I should do is fly business and grab the turkey in Amsterdam instead.

Because as everyone goes home to spend some time with the fam bam on the cheapest price they can, no one is going abroad. In fact, the international business travel sector suffers the most during this timeframe. (“Hey hon, gotta skip Thanksgiving this year because I got to meet with a few contractors in Budapest,” just doesn’t have the same ring as “pass the gravy.”) As a result, a lot of the airlines slash prices for premium travel to fill capacity. If you’ve got a hankering to fly international business, this is one of the most affordable times to do it all year. Business for $1000? It can be done.

Based on the data from this FlyerTalk thread, expect sales to start sometime in the summer with the majority of them occurring around August. (We can even make an exact guess for 2015 for when these sales start: August 5.) If you’re looking to go any other time of the year, forget it. This weird phenomenon somewhat sort of only explicitly applies to Thanksgiving:

Typically these fares are offered for travel outbound from the U.S. in the period from the Sunday before to the day after Thanksgiving. Return travel is usually valid for the day after Thanksgiving to the following Wednesday.

Prices can be as low as $854 for flights from the East Coast to Europe. (That particular sale applied to EWR-DUB on U.S. Airways in 2012). The average “lowest price” from 2007 to 2014 is about $1,312.50, which is a significant savings on most business class travel and rivals high-season economy prices. Business travel can easily cost $3000 and upwards.

Even better, there seems to be hard data about when some of these previous sales started. Based on that information, Thanksgiving premium travel sales for 2015 should start around August 5. To find this we began by averaging the day of the years (e.g. August 9 = day 221, June 18= day 169, etc.), also accounting for leap years. In past years, the sales started on August 9 this year and June 18 for 2013.

To get a better idea of this plays out, we collated some of the data on FlyerTalk combined with our own projections for next year:

Dates Lowest Price Found Sale Date
2007 ~$1100 September 22
2008 $1560 July 2
2009 $1309 August 11
2010 $1272 August 18
2011 $1380 August 8
2012 $854 July 11
2013 ~$1400 June 18
2014 $1625 August 9
2015 $1,312.50 August 5

Proof? I got an email from Virgin America last Thursday offering 50 percent off their Main Cabin (business) and First Class fares over Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, it made Main Cabin fares cheaper than some economy fares. Travelzoo found that LAX-EWR fares one-way was $207 in Main Cabin instead of $341 in economy. I’ll take that.