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

Cinema is the youngest art form, just over a hundred years old, and France was its birthplace. France boasts the third-highest cinema attendance in the word after the USA and Japan, both in terms of admissions and revenues.

The success of French movies is partly due to state protection of the industry. A proportion of films must be in French and produced by French production companies (the same goes for music), and because programs cannot be released on DVD until six months after their theatrical release, France is still a nation of cinephiles and cinema-goers.

One of the most famous international film festivals is the annual Cannes Film Festival, and French films and actors also often receive awards internationally. An example was the 2019 historical drama Portrait of a Woman on Fire, which tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait. Unlike the UK, foreign dramas on French TV tend to be dubbed rather than subtitled.

Delve deeper into what makes the French “different”. Charming, challenging, uncooperative, questioning, and doing things their own way and to their own advantage are all distinctly French traits. But what is it that makes the French so distinctive? And how do you get through to them?

Culture Smart! France will give you insights into the essence of the characteristically strong French national identity so you can make the most of your time in France and better understand the people who have had such historical and cultural influence over Western civilization.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787029088
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

Buy:

Paperback

eBook

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

“We are no longer Swedes, we do not wish to become Russians, so let us be Finns.”

The Finns have fought long and hard for the right to their own uniquely Finnish cultural identity. To understand this identity, one must understand “sisu” — an important word for Finns, and one that is notoriously difficult to translate.

It means something like grit and strength, and the ability to stick to something in the face of hardship, all while remaining calm and stoic.

You’ll see a bit of sisu in action when someone throws a little more hot water onto the stones of a sauna before finally jumping into the snow or a nearby lake. You’ll notice it in winter, when the temperature is -22 ° F (-30 ° C) and there are scores of Finns skiing and ice skating,

In fact, you’ll see it all around you as you explore modern Finland, the result of two hard-fought wars for independence.

Finland isn’t all grit and stoicism though. If you spend some time here, break ruisleipä (rye bread) with them, and perhaps learn a word or two in Finnish, you’ll learn that there’s a lot more to be discovered: humor, fair-mindedness, resourcefulness , and generosity among them.

The Culture Smart! guide to Finland describes the historical, geographical, and cultural influences that have shaped the Finnish psyche, and guides you through the working and social lives of the Finns today, offering you a deeper, more rewarding experience of this beautiful land.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787029088
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

Buy:

Paperback

eBook

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

Over the centuries, Koreans have shown themselves to be particularly adept at assimilating new religious beliefs and practices. Whether it was Buddhism in the fourth century or Catholicism in the eighteenth century, Koreans have been quick to take up and adapt to new doctrines. In the case of Confucianism, a set of precepts for conducting public and private life, the Koreans so took to it that they would eventually claim to be more correct practitioners than the Chinese, who had developed the practice in the first place.

Korea’s rich religious inheritance has greatly affected its customs and traditions. For example, whatever the religion, most Koreans observe some form of Confucian ceremony to mark auspicious occasions. These include the celebration of one hundred days after a baby’s birth—a child that had survived so long was likely to live—and the celebration of the sixtieth birthday.

In South Korea, believers and nonbelievers alike incorporate Christmas and Buddha’s birthday into their informal calendar, and even in the North these dates do not go wholly unnoticed.

Do you want to get to know the Koreans better? Culture Smart! Korea shows you how Koreans think and act and provides a real insight into Korean thinking and behaviour. It describes the cultural pitfalls to avoid if visiting or interacting with Koreans, and introduces some of the other delights of the peninsula. That way, when you arrive in Korea, you will be better able to understand and take part in the cultural life around you.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028883
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

Buy:

Paperback

eBook

Audiobook

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

“You cannot tie a knot without using your thumb” – Ghanaian proverb.

In Ghana, relationships are the most valued of possessions. The idea that you can live next to a neighbor for years without knowing their name, as can happen in the West, is entirely alien to Ghanaians.

Rather, mutual help, collective responsibility, and reciprocal obligations are all regarded as important, and observers of Ghanaian life often remark on the strong sense of community found there.

A babysitter is never needed; people work together on communal farming projects, wealth is shared, and the elderly are never left to become lonely or isolated. So valued are relationships that a man will forego half of his evening meal and even his wife’s place in his bed should he receive an unexpected guest.

These communal values are extended to all, locals and visitors alike, so on your trip be prepared to receive numerous invitations to meals, parties, and even distant hometowns. If you have time to accept the invitation, it is a great opportunity to become more acquainted with Ghanaian culture and, more than likely, will mark the start of a new friendship.

Ghana is highly recommended for those seeking a different kind of vacation; a visit to this country can be both eye-opening and life-changing.

Visitors are warmly welcomed, but Ghanaians require them to be sympathetic to their customs and beliefs, and will have no hesitation in saying, “We don’t do that here,” should a faux-pas be made or a taboo broken.

It’s important for Ghanaians that they, and their guests, observe certain cultural rules and codes of conduct. Culture Smart! Ghana describes these rules, explains where they come from, and offers the reader an opportunity to get under the skin of Ghanaians and enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer.

Show Ghanaians and their culture respect and you will, without a doubt, be made to feel welcome. Akwaaba!

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

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787022720
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

Buy:

Paperback

eBook

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

Buy:

Paperback

eBook 

Audiobook

 

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

Buy

Paperback

eBook