Culture Smart! Spain: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

The Spanish are confident, open individuals with a zest for life, and for living every moment to the max. If they invite you somewhere it is because they really want you to come. They do not want you to go home because you are all having such a good time. Who cares about tomorrow? Now is what is important. While there is a good time to be had, no one will leave quickly. People meet between 10:00 and 11:30pm for dinner, which is followed by relaxed and enjoyable conversation, coffee, and some alcoholic drinks. This is known as ‘la sobremesa‘. During the weekend, night stretches into the morning, and you have some breakfast before you go home! You need stamina in Spain, especially if it is fiesta time. If there is time, the Spanish will snatch a brief siesta to prepare themselves for the next night. Partying in Andalusia also requires some training. It never feels like the right time to have a last drink. Instead, someone will suggest ‘la penultima‘, ‘the last but one’, because nobody wants to refer to the end of the evening.

Our guides don’t include things like hotel listings or travel itineraries. After all, that kind of information is already freely available online. Instead, our guides help you get to know the people whose country you are visiting so that your time spent abroad is richer and more meaningful.

Each guide tells the story of a country and its culture, describes its customs and traditions, and is packed full of practical information to help you navigate the situations that you are likely to encounter with confidence and sensitivity. Whether on a weekend away or a longer stint abroad, travel smarter with Culture Smart!.

For more on the culture and customs of Spain, read our guide.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028647
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

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Culture Smart! Indonesia: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

It is practically impossible to avoid witnessing some aspect of Balinese ritual life during even a short stay in Bali. Apart from the performances put on for tourists, you may come across a procession, a celebration, or votaries offering gifts at a shrine. Hinduism on Bali is distinctly Balinese, with pre-Hindu beliefs, spirits, and rituals incorporated into it. It is also capable of embracing new deities and forms of worship so that it remains a living system of belief, in the same way that Balinese art, drama, and dance subtly adapt without losing their distinctive style or becoming outdated.

Balinese life is guided by ritual. The religious calendar and observances structure the day, the year, and life itself. The traditional Balinese house is itself a religious structure in which the family shrine to the ancestors has a central role. Family members live in pavilions around the common courtyard and share a common kitchen and the family temple, which houses the shrine to the ancestors and those to the other deities.

Balinese life is communal. Ritual is subsumed into daily living, within the home and in the village community. A village (desa) is divided into smaller cooperative neighborhood groups known as banjar, whose members are obliged to support each other during festivals, marriages, and funerals. Each banjar has a bale or communal hall, a drum tower from which meetings are called, a communal kitchen for preparing the feasts accompanying celebrations and performances, a gamelan orchestra, dance costumes, and a communal temple.

Read our guide for more on traditions and ritual life in Indonesia.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781857333435
    • Author: Graham Saunders
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

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Culture Smart! Peru: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

There is so much to see and celebrate in Peru in June. Inti Raymi, in Cuzco, marks the winter solstice on June 24. It is now one of the major national festivities attracting thousands of Peruvians and foreigners to a series of events throughout June culminating on June 24 in a procession from Qoricancha palace, in the heart of Cuzco, up to the ramparts of Sacsayhuaman. Several hundred citizens dress up in fine costumes as the Inca, his attendants, and pilgrims from the suyos (quarters of the Inca empire) to enact ceremonies that include a speech by the Inca, in Quechua, to the Sun (Inti) and those present. It is possible to stand atop the ruins to view the ceremonies from a distance, but the best view is from the stands.

Dia del Padre (Father’s Day, on the third Sunday of June) is just as important as Mother’s Day in Peru and is similarly celebrated with reverence. San Pedro y San Pablo (Saints Peter and Paul, June 29) is celebrated on the coast as these are the patron saints of fishermen. Flotillas of fishing boats carry images of the saints out to sea for a “floating” service.

Qoyllur Rit’i, 50-58 days after Easter Sunday, is celebrated in a remote high Andean valley at 15,400 ft. close to Mount Ausangate 95 miles southeast of Cuzco. Once marking the reappearance of the Pleiades constellation, the festival was Christianized in 1780 after a shepherd boy had a vision of a white Christ child. The weeklong festivity is no longer a small local celebration but attracts thousands of people each year. The area’s Campesinos are still there singing, dancing, making offerings to the apus (mountain gods) and other spirits, and hacking ice from the glacier high above the valley to take home to prepare the ritual chicha beer, but they are now joined by a multitude of onlookers.

For more read our guide to Peru.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787022805
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

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Culture Smart! Germany: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

Ask people what the center of the household is, and you’ll get different answers. For most, it’s the living room, for some the terrace, for many the kitchen. For the Germans it’s around a table, talking. The table, be it in the living room or in the kitchen, is the place where life and communication happen. As in the home so it is outside. Germany is very much a pub culture. People go to drink and socialize in beer gardens and beer halls, where they sit around tables, sometimes as whole families, and drink and talk – and sing. It is a popular and recognized meeting point. “Stammtisch” is a word that you should learn. German pubs and beer halls often have a table that is set aside for regular clients. If you as a stranger sit at it, you may be asked politely to move because you aren’t Stammtisch – a regular at the table. In a German household you’ll know that you are really part of the furniture when, instead of relaxing in the deep, comfortable chairs of the living room, you are huddled around a table in the kitchen or living room on a hard chair, a drink in your hand, arguing about the issues of the day. Don’t be surprised if, when invited to dinner, you find yourself sitting around the table for an hour after dinner is over, happily chatting over coffee and drinks.

Culture Smart! Guides are written for people who want more than just the nuts and bolts of where to stay and what to see. They deal with the richly rewarding human dimension of travel by telling you about the beliefs and attitudes of the people you will meet, and about situations you may encounter. They help you to understand what makes people tick, the values they live by, and the kind of behavior that will be reciprocated with goodwill and hospitality. When we are able to get back out there, let’s make the most of our time abroad and enrich our understanding of the many cultures that make up our beautiful and diverse planet.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028845
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

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Culture Smart! Botswana: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

One of the many wonders of traveling are the chance encounters, the magical moments of human connection with people who come from a different place, a different culture, and speak a different language. Reading our guides gives you the chance to make the most out of those experiences. So you can be comfortable stepping into the unknown and trying to see a place through the eyes of your hosts.

Landlocked Botswana is a country of contrasts. More than 80% is referred to as a desert – the Kalahari Desert – yet it is not a desert at all. Despite the endless distances of thorn trees and scrub, the red sand of the Kalahari contains substantial woodland and other vegetation and conceals boundless wealth in the form of coal, methane, copper, and diamonds: Botswana is the world’s biggest producer of gemstones.

There are no perennial inland rivers and no lakes, yet there is the Okavango Delta, said to be the largest inland river delta in the world.

In a world where one measure of national wealth is the time for which a country can afford foreign imports out of reserves, Botswana’s time is measured in years. It is also true that the gap between rich and poor is growing ever wider, so the visitor will encounter obvious examples of both wealth and poverty: expensive cars and big houses, excellent roads and modern buildings, yet high unemployment and rural villages with dwellings built traditionally, of natural materials, without sanitation, electricity, or water.

Culturally, the people are overwhelmingly Bantu-speaking, but they are by no means a homogeneous group, except by classification in the broadest ethnic terms. In Botswana there are more than twenty tribes and twenty different, though sometimes related, languages. In the years since independence, the country and its economy have made extraordinary strides, and Botswana is rightly seen as a model of democratic, planned development. But, for all that, traditional values lie close to the surface, often barely concealed beneath a veneer of modernity. This serves to explain the range of responses and behaviour that a visitor might encounter. Many older people are intensely conservative in outlook, while the educated young seem indistinguishable from their peers around the world: enthusiastic, bright, innovative, and utterly modern. All are kindly, welcoming, and above all, forgiving.

Our guide to Botswana introduces you to the lives of the people. It looks at the history that has shaped its society and shows the importance of traditional customs and values. It describes how Batswana live, work, and play, and how to avoid the pitfalls of cultural misunderstanding. You don’t have to wait until you travel there to dive in!

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787022560
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

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Culture Smart! Nepal: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

In the popular imagination, Nepal is a land of eternal snow, where heroic mountaineers and Sherpas valiantly plant flags on the roof of the world, or perish in the attempt. And yet there is far more to discover in this country, not least the great variety of its cultural, ethnic, and religious weave.

Culture Smart! Nepal introduces you to the people who make up this vibrant human mosaic, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. It seeks to explain the complexities of Nepali life, from the home, to the marketplace, to the office, and describes how the country’s geography and history have helped shaped contemporary society, and how religion has defined its social structures.

Whatever the reason for your visit, understanding the values, attitudes, and lifestyle of the people will help you to go beyond the friendly smiles and turn your visit into an enlightening and more rewarding experience. Namaste!

Excerpt from the guide:

“Age is not a cause for embarrassment in Nepal. Rather, it is a source of great respect. So valued is the attainment of age that it is reflected in the forms of address used when speaking even to complete strangers.

Adopting these forms of address while in Nepal will be received as a sign of respect by the person you are speaking to and express that you have taken time to familiarize yourself with the local customs, something that will greatly please your hosts.

If you perceive the person you are speaking to be older than you are, you can call them “Didi,” meaning older sister, or “Dai,” older brother. Or, if you perceive them to be younger than you, you can call them “Bhai” meaning younger brother, or “Bahini,” younger sister.

Similarly, when addressing someone of any age or gender who you want to show respect towards, you can attach the suffix “-jee” to the end of the person’s name. For example, Kiran-jee, or Chantin-jee.

Indeed, in Nepal it is the value of mutual respect that has allowed the many different ethnic, cultural, and religious communities to coexist here peacefully for centuries.”

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028722
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

Culture Smart! Switzerland: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

Set aside your preconceptions of postcard scenery, chocolate and cheese, faceless bankers, and spotless cities. The real Switzerland is anything but bland.

This small, rugged, landlocked country in the middle of Europe is full of surprises, among them traditional customs and festivals which vary not just region to region, but village to village. Energetic, magical, and occasionally eccentric, these customs reveal a side to the Swiss that you may never have suspected.

Culture Smart! Switzerland introduces you to the rich human dimension of this enigmatic country. It provides an historical overview, explores Swiss values and attitudes, and gives advice on how to navigate your way through various aspects of Swiss life and society. It looks at the home life of the Swiss, and describes what’s important to them, how they work, socialize, and how best to get along with them. All this will give you a starting point so that you can discover for yourself the hidden riches of this fascinating society.

For more information visit: https://culturesmartbooks.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=133

Wherever you’re traveling to, have a more meaningful and enriching experience by learning about the culture and society of the country you’re visiting.

We have guides to over 100 countries for you to choose from, including 22 brand new editions—the perfect read to dip your toe into your next destination before we can travel again.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028609
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

Culture Smart! Ethiopia: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

The taking of coffee at an Ethiopian home is an unhurried, elaborate ritual.

Every woman, and many men, is practiced at roasting coffee. On special occasions, rushes are spread about the floor and decorated with flowers. The washed green beans are roasted dry in a pan over a hot brazier. When the beans crackle, the smoke is wafted toward the guests to whet their senses, and incense is burned to mingle with the smoke. When ready, the roasted beans are taken away and pounded in a mortar.

Meanwhile, water is put to boil in a clay coffee pot (jebena) and the coffee is brewed in the same pot. It is then carefully poured into twelve small cups, representing the apostles. Sugar, and occasionally salt, are added to taste. Visitors should try to accept three pourings: the first is known as abol in Amharic, the second huletegna, and the third is the blessing, known as bereka. Roasted peanuts or barley (kollo) are handed around to accompany the coffee.

Discover the Ethiopian peoples. Take an interest in Ethiopia’s culture and history, and you will be warmly welcomed by your hosts. Find out more here: https://www.culturesmartbooks.co.uk/africa/ethiopia.php

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787022645
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

Culture Smart! Vietnam: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

In the second half of the twentieth century, Vietnam was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. War raged. It was hard to know if it would ever end, and harder still to understand fully the rights and wrongs of the various protagonists. First, the French tried to stem the tide of Vietnamese nationalism; then the United States pitted itself against what it thought was a puny enemy, but which turned out to be tough, resilient, and ultimately victorious. The Americans might have pondered the fact that the Vietnamese had struggled, eventually successfully, for more than a thousand years to escape the clutches of their powerful neighbor, China. Patience in adversity sums up the Vietnamese character.

Since the country was reunified in 1975, the Vietnamese have undergone many hardships. The immediate postwar years were extremely harsh for many people in South Vietnam. Some fled into exile; others underwent “rehabilitation” to make them fit to live in a Communist state. To this were added economic hardships and even starvation.

Today, however, life has improved significantly. The decision to abandon one of the main tenets of Marxism, the centrally planned economy, in favor of a “socialist market economy” was a bold step, as was the decision to throw open the doors and invite the world, including former foes, to invest in the new Vietnam. As a result, the economy is one of the world’s fastest-growing.

Visitors will find a confident, independent people, nursing few if any grudges about the sufferings caused by the war. The Vietnamese people are open and friendly, with a sense of humour and irony, and frankly curious about the outside world. Kind and generally helpful towards strangers, they are industrious, determined to improve their living standards, relatively honest, but always ready to seize any advantage that might come their way.

Culture Smart! Vietnam is aimed at the visitor who would like to learn a little more about the history, culture, traditions, sensibilities, and modern way of life of the Vietnamese. It explains deep-seated attitudes and describes some of the social, economic, and cultural changes now under way. It dispels common Western misconceptions and gives practical advice on what to expect and how to behave in unfamiliar situations. Whether you are visiting on business or for pleasure, we hope it will enable you to discover for yourself the warmth and vast potential of this fascinating country and its people.

Excerpt taken from the Introduction to Culture Smart! Vietnam, written by Geoffrey Murray. Find out more:  https://www.culturesmartbooks.co.uk/asia/vietnam.php

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028524
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

We may not be able to travel right now, but that needn’t stop us starting to explore the world again…

Japan is often thought of as a “far away” country where they do things differently, and this is indeed true. The Japanese, have, for example, a unique language not shared by any other group of people, and a unique religion – Shinto. Yet Japan is becoming increasingly “Western” in its norms, expectations, and way of life. Furthermore, Japan today participates more widely in the international arenas of sport, music, food, fashion, design, robotics, R&D collaboration, overseas aid, and “soft power” diplomacy than ever before.

However, despite this pursuit of modern living, the core values of traditional Japan – a sense of duty rather than of rights, the pursuit of harmony as an instinctive need at all levels of society, and respect for each other throughout life – not least in old age – endure. The visitor should be aware that notions of “uniqueness” also endure in the Japanese psyche. Japan is one of the most pleasant and safest countries to live in; it has one of the best medical infrastructures and enjoys the longest life expectancy in the world.

Japan functions mainly as a consensus-based society, but Japanese genius and eccentricity point to an unexpected strand of individualism. This new, updated edition of Culture Smart! Japan provides information and insights into people’s attitudes and behavior and practical advice to help you discover the brilliance and charm of this complex, rich, and dynamic society.

For more: https://culturesmartbooks.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=95

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028920
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 13mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99