Written by Katherine Foreman
When I decided to do my third year of university in London, the thought of experiencing ‘culture shock’ didn’t cross my mind. Sure, I sat through plenty of preparation meetings as my guidance counsellor flashed around her standard U-curve diagram outlining the various stages of acclimating to a new culture, but I wasn’t paying attention. “It happens to everyone,” she iterated and reiterated as I stared blankly at the wall behind her, imagining the brown-brick flat I’d wake up to everyday in Marylebone.
It’s a commonality for students going abroad for lengthy periods of time to underestimate the extent to which they’ll be affected by changes to their environment and daily life, however subtle. It’s also vastly common, as it was in my case, for students to assume they know much more about the culture they’re entering than they do in actuality.
To mark the publication of our brand new Culture Smart! Laos guide we have put together a short list of tips on how to be a good guest when visiting this beautiful and fascinating country. Visiting foreign countries can be a cultural minefield, and though many may be forgiving of visitors who don’t know better, we believe that a little practical cultural knowledge will not only impress your hosts, but will also help you to have a more meaningful and enriching experience. Enjoy!
New Year’s Eve parties in Nicaragua are by no means mild affairs. Indeed, the celebrations are two-fold – both to welcome in the new year, and to bid farewell to the old one. Whatever the previous year might have thrown at you, for all its ups and downs, a celebration is in order, for here comes another! To mark the publication of our upcoming Culture Smart! Nicaragua, here’s how to bring in the new year, Nicaragua style. Receive 25% off the RRP in January with our CSNEW25 discount code here!
It is fair to say that Rwanda is not currently a top travel destination. The country’s tourism industry has had a fair bit of catching up to do, but with its history firmly behind it, Rwanda is quietly earning a name for itself — and for very good reason. The “Land of a Hundred Hills” offers an astonishing range of stunning landscapes and an abundance of natural beauty, making the country an exciting destination for those who like to explore off the beaten track.
This Southeast Asian gem is often overshadowed by its neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, particularly when it comes to cuisine. Vietnamese pho and Thai tom yum are two iconic dishes that spring to mind, while Laos doesn’t have dishes to its name quite as well known. Indeed, Laotian cuisine is a very much a well-kept secret, and one you are sure to miss upon your return.
Travelling abroad can be an exciting and memorable experience. It can also be incredibly daunting, with a lot of unknowns and new situations to contend with. This is especially the case when visiting a country like China, where the culture is so different from that of Western countries.
Eastern Europe has some wonderful landscapes and people – here are ten cultural facts taken straight from our CultureSmart! Guides on Eastern Europe.
‘Names beginning with a first name and ending with –ian or –yan are indications of the father’s first name. Diasporans tend to use –ian, while Armenians use –yan. For example, Davidian is the son of David, and Krikorian is the son of Krikor or Gregor. Typically, first names were taken from the bible, so many last names have a religious origin.’
Home to some of the best beers in the world, Central Europe is one of the most culturally rich regions to explore. Check out these 10 values and attitudes straight from our guides!
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- It is the reserved nature of the Czechs that visitors may notice at first, however emotion in speech is hard to gauge as Czechs speak in low tones and with a minimum of inflection.
- Czech has fewer names considered to be “acceptable”. Parents must submit the names they are planning to give to their child to a sort of ‘name police’ – a government bureaucrat – to determine whether the name is suitable. So you’ll probably meet more than one Petra, Jans, Zdeněk or Palvas. Czechs also do not use middle names so finding the proper for example; Radek Dolezal will be a challenge!