Western Europe: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Culture Smart!)

October 31, 2020
Western Europe: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Culture Smart!)

The historic countries of Western Europe – Austria, Belgium,Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands,Spain, and Switzerland – are the jewels in the crown of Europeancivilization. Their importance and attraction for the rest of theworld are so great that the region is the prime travel destinationfor businesspeople, tourists, and students.Western Europe is a relatively compact geographical area,containing an enormous diversity of landscapes, peoples, andcultures. The historically competitive Western Europeans are unlikeeach other in many ways, yet share an underlying system of values,and the restless Western European spirit of enquiry, enterprise,and adventure has had a decisive impact on world history. In thepast, their empires spread their languages, religions, arts, andideologies around the globe, and today the world beats a pathway totheir doors. For foreign visitors, first encounters in WesternEurope can be overwhelming. The richness and complexity of thedifferent national cultures are difficult to take in, and people’sbehavior and reactions can be surprisingly unpredictable.For example, attitudes to time vary. In Germany it’s rude to belate; in France it’s rude to be on time. In business there is arange of negotiating styles. And because there is more tocommunication than speech, it is easy to misread the signals inother people’s societies. Even smiling can sometimes be wrong – inFrance it’s distinctly uncool to smile at strangers.Western Europe is ideal for student travelers, businesspeople,or academics who will be visiting several countries on their tripand who don’t wish to be burdened with eleven books on differentdestinations. In this it is unique. No other book captures theessence of eleven national cultures in a single volume.Drawing on the wealth of information in the individual CultureSmart! country guides, it focuses on those situations in eachcountry where visitors are likely to come into contact with localpeople. Beyond listing the dos and don’ts, it explains the culturalcontext of different or unexpected behavior. It tells you aboutbeliefs and attitudes, and alerts you to local manners andsensitive issues. Full of fascinating insights and practicaladvice, it will help you navigate your way through uncharted seas,avoid gaffes and misunderstandings, and establish a rapport withpeople wherever you are.