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! 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

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

5 Tips and Facts on Danish Culture – In the Home and Out & About.

Mention Denmark to most people, and they may think of Viking raiders with horned helmets, looting and pillaging their way across Europe. Others may think of one of Denmark’s more famous exports—Carlsberg beer, or the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. But of the Danes themselves they will probably know very little.

This talented, industrious people have made important contributions to European and world culture. They have created a social model that has been the envy of some and is an example to many, and are justifiably proud of their achievements. While the Danes may be difficult to get to know, they are a friendly, fair-minded, and civilized people who are most certainly worth knowing.

Here are 5 important tips and facts on Danish culture to help soften your landing.

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5 recent Culture Smart! books written solely by women

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.

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5 Tips on Being a Good Guest in Laos

Hello Travellers,

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!

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