I am always interested in learning about the custom and cultures of the countries I am making plans to visit. For instance, when I planned our visit Morocco in 2002, one book stood out against the myriad of guidebooks about Morocco. It was the Culture Shock book about Morocco. I found the information inside to be indispensable and insightful about the Moroccan peoples, customs, and culture.
On a recent visit to my local bookstore, I was surprised to find a custom and culture guidebook for Scotland. I never considered Scotland to be culturally foreign compared to an exotic country like Morocco. But apparently, someone thought it would be helpful for people who are planning to visit Scotland to understand the Scots, their culture and customs. With that in mind, I did not think it would hurt me to familiarize myself with Scottish culture.
I have to say that this book was a good investment! Despite it’s pocket-size, it is packed with a lot of insightful information about modern Scottish life whether in the Highlands or Lowlands or the surrounding islands. The book also contains many basic and useful historical context, which helps visitors to understand the peoples of Scotland.
The book is divided into 9 chapters. The first 3 chapters provides an excellent background of Scotland, the values and attitudes of the people, with a concise explanation of their history and traditions. The following chapters provide essential information about modern Scottish life, which is a useful guide of what you can expect when you encounter and interact with the Scottish people during your visit or stay.
Culture Smart: Scotland is a wonderful companion for visitors, business people, or if you happen to be relocating to Scotland as it provides recommendations for the non-Scotspeople of how to handle certain situations that may differ than what you are accustomed to even in Western society. For instance, one of the things that sticks to my mind is the reference to being invited to home for a meal. The author advises on dress codes and suggestions of things to offer as gifts to your host as well as how to interact with their children, and how you should accept your whisky when offered. I thought this was all very informative and something I would take into consideration should I find myself in a situation where I am invited for a lovely home cooked meal.
I enjoyed reading Culture Smart: Scotland. The book is written with humorous bits to keep it somewhat light because learning about another’s customs and culture can be a little overwhelming. Certainly if there is any guidebook that is worth buying, I recommend this book highly.
Culture Smart: Scotland is a pocket sized book, roughly 4.5″ x 6.75″, and costs less than $10 USD. It is written by a Scotsman, John H. Sctoney, who has been involved with many BBC programs with Scottish themes.