On Friday I'm going to Birmingham (Sutton Coldfield) for three months (until early may) for an engineering internship. What should I know? What's the Birmingham area known for amongst Britons? What should I absolutely not miss in my down time? What social norms (at work or otherwise) might be unusual to me? What do locals do for fun? What parts of the city should I wander around in to get a sense of the place (and in which areas would doing so get me killed or served with an anti-social order)?
I'm a 21 year old American who grew up in the Virginia suburbs of DC. My mother is Belgian, so I've spent a lot of time in western Europe, but have never been to the United Kingdom outside a few Heathrow layovers.
So as not be too open ended, here are some things that come to mind, but don't limit yourself to these:
I love electronic music, particularly dubstep
and electronic/experimental music in the vein of Autechre/Aphex Twin, though I'm not averse to the more typical house/trance/four to the floor stuff. I know dubstep is primarily a London thing, and plan to make the trek down as often as possible, but I'm hoping Birmingham or the surrounding areas have something to offer in that regard as well. My last.fm account is linked in my profile if you're feeling particularly motivated.
I know Birmingham industrialized very early and is still known as an industrial center. What interesting technology-related things could I see? Any worthwhile museums? Industrial architecture (or interesting buildings generally)? Abandoned factories? Factory worker row-home subdivisions ala Monty Python
I like Indian/Carribean food, and my image of the UK features a lot of immigrants from former colonies - any exceptional places to eat or buy groceries in the Sutton Coldfield area? Any ancient stereotypical British pubs I should see? I'm looking for things I couldn't easily find in DC.
What interesting landscapes or geological features are a reasonable train ride away?
Finally, any really out-there linguistic eccentricities I should be aware of? When I think of a Birmingham (or midlands) accent I think... Ozzie Osbourne and something a entirely unlike John Lennon's accent. Is there a reference to any regional idioms or slang terms I might not be aware of from my copious BBC/Monty Python/Mitchell and Webb/Guy Ritchie film research?