International Women’s Day – #BalanceforBetter
International Women’s Day is a day that has been celebrated worldwide since 1911. Campaigning for women’s rights was just the starting point; but the overall meaning of this day now extends to campaigning for equality in all aspects of life, as well as celebrating the numerous achievements made by women.
This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating and taking part by sharing a list of our most recent Culture Smart! titles that were written solely by women. These women have travelled widely, have become fluent in the foreign cultures they visited and lived in, and have helped us produce resourceful guides for those following in their footsteps. To find out more about each of the authors, you can follow the link to their author page by clicking on their names.
Culture Smart! Norway steers you through the social and professional encounters of your visit to this new culture. Norwegians enjoy arguably the best quality of life in the world, but this was not always so. The need to survive in a difficult, isolated terrain and an often harsh climate forged a people who are hardworking and self-sufficient. On first meeting, the Norwegians are serious, polite, law-abiding, and hardy. They are also very private, which can make newcomers feel as if they have come up against a stone wall. Getting to know them takes time, but when you are able to read the signs that take you behind that façade you will meet the friendly, fun-loving, family-oriented people hiding on the other side.
In common with their fellow Scandinavians, Norwegians prefer to think before they speak. To an outsider, this can make conversation seem slow and a little stilted. It can be tempting to jump in with a barrage of questions to draw out your Norwegian friend, but try to resist.
Culture Smart! Laos offers in-depth information to visitors seeking a genuine experience, including essential insights and advice on local customs and lifestyle. Once known as “the Kingdom of a Million Elephants under the White Parasol,” Laos is a landlocked country of great contrast and beauty in the heart of the Indochinese peninsula. Dominated by the mighty Mekong River, it has dense forests, mountain peaks that soar above the morning mist, and a fascinating combination of glorious Asian temples and iconic French colonial architecture. This multi-ethnic land of gentle people, struggling to survive in a sometimes harsh environment with the most basic of facilities, is attracting more and more enthusiastic visitors each year.
Boh Pen Nyang
One of the first Lao expressions that visitors become familiar with is “boh pen nyang.” Its multiple meanings can prove intriguing to foreigners, as it encompasses a range of possibilities, such as the affirmative “No problem” or “It doesn’t matter; its OK.” Occasionally it conveys a confusing lack of commitment, as in “We can’t do anything about it,” but for the most part it is an upbeat expression used to end a phrase or situation, and a perfect reflection of the easy going and fatalistic nature of the Lao people.
Culture Smart! Morocco – written by Jillian York
Culture Smart! Morocco describes the way the country’s past has shaped its present, advising tourists and business travelers on what to expect and how to behave in different situations. Morocco is a land of spectacular scenery, with a rich history, and heady with tantalizing scents and colorful sights. The call of the muezzin seems to draw people from every corner of the globe. In 1956 Morocco gained independence from French colonial rule and was jolted into the 20th century.
Today it is a country in transition—a unique blend of Arab, African, and European ways of life. The teeming cities have an air of sophistication and joie de vivre, but life in rural areas has stayed much the same.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Lunch invitations are very common and a great way to get to know people. Traditionally, Moroccans eat with their hands or a piece of bread. Eat only from the section of the dish, or tajine, directly in front of you, using your right hand. It is appropriate at any time to praise the food and your host, and burping, followed by thanks to God (“alhamdulillah”), is perfectly acceptable!
Culture Smart! Kenya – written by Jane Barsby
Culture Smart! Kenya is not intended as a travel guide. It won’t tell you how to climb Mount Kenya or where to spot lions; but it will tell you how to make the most of your visit by interacting fully with the people. Known as the “Cradle of Mankind,” the original Garden of Eden, and the place where, six million years ago, Millennium Man walked the Tugen Hills, Kenya is the ethnic homeland of us all. It was from Kenya’s nurturing embrace that the earliest humans wandered forth to colonize the world.
Kenya later became the adopted home of more than seventy different groups of ethnic African migrants, each with its own distinctive cultural identy. It is a land of miraculously harmonious contrasts: tropical ice, teeming wilderness, vibrant culture, and gentle tolerance. A place where, despite the burdens of poverty, drought, and famine, the phrase Hakuna matata (“no problem”) embodies the national attitude, and a smile is the most valuable currency.
A generally tactile people, Kenyans shake hands all the time and at every occasion; indeed it would be considered impolite on meeting someone not to shake hands, regardless of whether you had met them earlier, or had never seen them before in your life.
Culture Smart! Chile – written by Caterina Perrone
Culture Smart! Chile provides vital information on what to expect and how to behave in this complex and dynamic society. Chile is a land of contrast and surprise, flanked by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Andes to the east, the forbidding salt basins of the Atacama Desert to the north—with a verdant Central Valley and Cape Horn at its southern extremity. The Chilean people, too, are surprising: on one hand reserved, family-oriented, Catholic, and conservative; and on the other fun-loving, entrepreneurial, neoliberal, and modern.
The Chilean sense of humour can take you by surprise. Chileans are straight faced and particularly enjoy “pulling your leg.” Their jokes contrast subtly with their apparently reserved manner, and an inexperienced foreigner could easily be disoriented and take things at face value.
Thank you for reading our International Women’s Day blog post. If you would like to see our full range of Culture Smart! guides, please visit: http://www.culturesmartbooks.co.uk/destinations.php