Culture Smart! India: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

All descriptions of “India” or “Indians” can only be offered as a simplification to aid understanding, rather than as a complete representation. That’s both the beauty and the challenge of visiting India – there is little that can be labeled generically as “Indian culture”. And there is little that compares with our own life “back home”, at least beyond the superficial trappings acquired during the British Raj or under the influence of reality tv.

The family is one of the most important and evident of all Indian values. Family in India means the extended family. Whether living under the same roof in the family home or scattered around the globe, family is the entire network of people who are related to each other by blood or marriage.

“If everybody tries together even a mountain can be moved.” – Malayalam proverb.

The extended family maintains and defines social boundaries, ensuring that individuals and single family units stay within the culturally prescribed norms. It is the family that forms identity, where values are passed on and lived out, on whom you depend for life and well-being.

Individuality, autonomy, and independence, highly esteemed values in the West, are antithetical to all that Indians traditionally hold dear. There is no such thing as “my property”, “my space,” or “my decision.” Individuals who act independently are viewed as selfish. Typically those rebels will be corralled through public ridicule or third-party communication.

Relationships and social responsibilities are of prime importance, since no one accomplishes anything on their own. Everything, from mothering and naming your children, to passing exams, and choosing a spouse, is done with the help of family. It’s not uncommon for business people to take time off work to attend the several day-long wedding of what we might see as a distant relative or to participate in a religious event. These things are viewed as acceptable responsibilities, and people feel obligated, if not overjoyed, to participate in them. Active participation in life events help to reinforce family identity and belonging, and ensure that just as you are there for others, they will be there for you.

The intensity and diversity of India can create both shock and awe for visitors that are not likely to subside. India is an experience best appreciated by those who are open to learn, able to cope with ambiguity, and willing to redefine generosity and friendship. Falling in love with India “is much like developing a taste for spicy food. You look at the chilies and don’t know how you’ll cope. But the aroma is enticing, so you dive in. If you don’t give up, one day you’ll discover that you’ve developed a craving for it.”

Culture Smart! India will make you aware of the basic values and behavioural norms you will encounter in India. It will help you navigate cultural differences and connect with real people, and offer many insights into the endlessly fascinating place that is India. Sab kuch milega!

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787029002
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $14.99 / CAN $19.99

Buy:

Paperback

eBook

Audiobook

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

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

We have relaunched with 25 new titles!

Culture Smart! guides are designed to help you have a more meaningful and successful time abroad through a better understanding of the local culture.

With chapters on navigating local culture and etiquette, effective communication, and how to avoid cultural misunderstandings, our guides make sure you are a better-informed guest.

After 15 years in publication and more than 100 titles published, we are excited to announce the relaunch of CULTURE SMART!, a series of guides designed to help people have a richer and more meaningful experience abroad through a better understanding of the local culture. CULTURE SMART! guides offer a qualitative improvement to people’s experience abroad by telling readers about the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of people of different countries, so that when they arrive they are aware of local manners and sensitive issues, and are well equipped to make friends or enter into successful business relationships.

25 new editions of bestselling guides were published to mark the relaunch, with more to follow. With a new design and improved format, we aim to reach a wider audience and solidify the series’ standing as market leader of this travel category niche.

What’s New

• The updated guides have been entirely redesigned, both inside and out.

• The new design will help the series appeal to a wider audience at a time when the content covered in traditional travel guides, like restaurants and hotel listings, is readily available online for free.

• The guides remain compact and travel-sized but have 32 extra pages. The layout of this chunkier guide has allowed us to include more content, such as a section on Useful Apps, and to make use of larger images for greater impact.

• The new layout was designed to help make the book more user friendly and, due to better spacing and use of images, offers a better reading experience.
Check out our online shop to see the 25 new books available now to help you prepare for your next trip!

The Unavoidable Reality of Culture Shock—And Why It’s a Good Thing

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.

Continue reading