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Foreign to Familiar: A...
Sarah Lanier
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Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot- And Cold-Climate Cultures

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  807 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
A Guide to Understanding Hot - And Cold - Climate Cultures …very , very interesting, sure makes me understand people better. Wish I had know this stuff 20 years, upone marrying a cold climate man and subsequently moving to the north. Ago see Amazon review, very helpful
Good for missionaries or anyone who travels.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,325)
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Sydney Drinkwater
I'm very much from a cold-climate culture. I'm also pregnant in a hot-climate culture (my belly now belongs to all of Ecuador to touch & rub). While this book didn't give me a magic answer to making that just go away (I'm smiling while I type that), it reinforced all I know about our culture differences and eloquently explained it in ways I hadn't heard. I now have even more tools to help make the gap smaller between us and to avoid misunderstandings that I may cause in my own behaviors. The ...more
Maggie Hong
It is a very good book to help people understand culture differences. The only thing that I'm not happy with is one of its examples of China as a nation with "hot climate culture." It says that in hot climate culture, people has less boundaries and less privacy too. It says that a Chinese international student lives in the dormitory in a nation with "cold climate culture." Since he was brought up in hot climate culture, he doesn't know about privacy, so he opens his roomate's closet and begins t ...more
Oct 15, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to travel or make foreign friends
Recommended to Kim by: Beth Decker
If you ever want to travel or just relate with people from different countries and cultures, I definitely recommend this book by Sarah A. Lanier. Miscommunication is a huge problem cross-culturally and Lanier delivers a simple, practical, clear guide to avoiding the common mistakes that foreigners make. Hot and cold climate cultures are somewhat generalized but the basic principles that guide her advice are logical and will save foreigners from a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and lo ...more
Mar 30, 2014 Edie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book and quick read on understanding hot-climate and cold-climate cultures? Being a cold-climate culture person myself and marrying a man who grew up in a hot-climate culture family, this book helped to explain a lot with the differences we already noticed. I also often have opportunities to interact with people of other cultures. This book is a great resource for someone going overseas, interacting with foreigners in their home country or understanding the cultural differences between nor ...more
Feb 25, 2013 C.G.Koens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-book-list
As someone who has spent a lot of time overseas in both hot and cold climates, I completely identified with the ideas in Lanier's book. Although not true 100% of the time (as she points out, individuals can be different from the mass cultural stereotypes - for example, I was born and raised in the "hot south", but my personality is much more "cold northern"), she comes very close to the heart of cultural misunderstandings and issues in this book.

If you're considering moving overseas or even jus
Oct 24, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend gave me this book as a guide for an upcoming trip to India. My biggest concern has been my lack of knowledge regarding the culture and fear that I will do something that won't translate across cultural lines. I do not want to unknowingly do something disrespectful. This book wasn't exactly focused on India, but for anyone who will be exposed to a multiplicity of cultures this is a great guide. Lanier has a ton of experience dealing with etiquette and customs, and her experiences show he ...more
This was required reading for a course I'm taking, Introduction to Cross-Cultural studies. I have a Master's in Intercultural Communication and am taking this class for review, so the material wasn't new to me and was a simplified version of other things I have studied.

This was a really easy read and gives a basic overview for someone wanting to understand how to navigate cultural differences. I'm not sure if I agree with all the concepts in the book but it serves as a good jumping off point for
Aug 21, 2014 Dabeyta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
This book was short and sweet with insightful anecdotes of cultural misunderstandings around the world. Regardless of the culture in focus, I found that each anecdote taught me more about myself and my own culture. I have often been offended by people's rude behavior and simply counted it off as rude. However, the author explains how offending or being offended can be greatly reduced if we inquired deeper into the cultural norms/values of the other. A great read, at times I could not sleep becau ...more
Cailyn Wheatley
As a cold-culture individual who has lived in hot-culture South America for nearly four years, I uttered so many, "Ohs," "wows," and, "Well dubs," while reading this short, phenomenal book. The chapters discussed the many aspects of hot-climate vs. cold-climate cultures, providing context for the many situations I have already encountered. The concepts discussed to not simply apply to one country or world region, but are truly universal, transcending borders. I am so thankful I have read this bo ...more
Dec 03, 2015 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf
I didn't have a clue before reading this book. I just thought I did. It all makes sense to me now! Having a "cold climate" background, various "hot climate" friends and family often left me confused and bemused.

An excellent bridge to understanding different cultures and the reason they are different. In the melting pot that is America, this should be required reading for EVERYONE! All teachers and politicians especially but also required reading for high school and college students.

Elisabeth S.
Pros: Really engrossing read with fascinating anecdotes, and some insightful generalizations (but generalizations nevertheless) about different cultural practices/mindsets (i.e. different concepts of time, hospitality, etc.).

Cons: The generalizations are taken too far in some cases (to be expected when one tries to class the entire world into just two categories, hot & cold), or the anecdotes illustrative of just that person, not his/her entire culture.

I found the book incredibly eye-opening
Aug 17, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book 6 starts, I would. It's such a great one to help understand different cultures, plus you can read it in about an hour. I have passed it on to many people. Anyone working with people of different cultures, and in all honesty, anyone should really read this book to help them understand different cultures in our world today!
Fantastic book! Excellent for anyone who travels to another culture, or who interacts with anyone from another ethnicity or cultural group. Sarah gives very helpful paradigms for the broad differences between different cultures, which helps us to understand, appreciate, and communicate much better. Highly recommended.
Pete van Genne
May 02, 2012 Pete van Genne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pete by: BC Vineyard Church Regional Retreat
A quick, high-level synopsis of differences between hot- and cold-climate cultures (or better put: hot/tribal- and cold/urban). I really liked the discussion on the differences between high-context an low-context cultures. A worthy read for travellers or those wanting to understand cultural differences.
Mari-liis Duglas
This book was very interesting to read, especially before going to live in another country in less than a month. I found that it gave me a much better perspective of what awaits me and I feel much more prepared to experience and understand all the new and different things that lie ahead of me.
Dec 07, 2012 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great synopsis on many of the vast differences between the varied countries of our ever shrinking world. I love how short the book is, yet in many ways quite comprehensive for the occasional traveler. I would highly recommend this to be read by anyone traveling abroad.
Shaun Liu
Aug 08, 2014 Shaun Liu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A valuable and easy read on understanding general cultural difference that often causes misunderstanding (what the author calls cold vs. hot climate cultures). I particular like the various personal anecdotes.
Ahmad Alkouh
May 10, 2014 Ahmad Alkouh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the way the author has divided the world into hot or cold cultures. As a cold person living in a hot culture you can see the differences.

I personally live most of what is mintioned in the book.
Kimberly Bidwell
Jan 14, 2015 Kimberly Bidwell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Eye-opening book. Gave some great insight into dealing with different cultures. It also helped me better understand some of my own struggles as a Puerto Rican from Florida living in Ohio. Great resource!
Lisa Blair
An excellent book in helping one understand people from different regions and different cultures. Highly recommended!
Sam Negron
3.5. It's a general overview, but she states this in the introduction. Being a first generation Hispanic, it was fun comparing what aspects of my personality quirks come from my warm culture heritage, and which from my cold climate Chicago upbringing. For example, I grew up with people visiting without invitation. Our kitchen was always open to anyone. I still love this idea, even as an adult, and it would be cool to get to this point, again. However, I also have the direct, time sensitive aware ...more
Feb 10, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this book until it was recommended by a missionary friend of mine. I loved this approach to missions, and it will definitely be required reading for any short-term missions teams that I have the opportunity to lead. Here are just a handful of takeaways from this book:

"The average cross-cultural worker has few cross-cultural skills and, in some cases, does not even see the need to acquire them. The sad thing is that his or her good intentions can be read wrongly, damaging rel
Mar 29, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book a bit simplistic and makes some sweeping assurances which aren't sufficiently nuanced… but someone who has little experience crossing cultures, this is a very useful book because it exposes how cultures often different in ways that might not be immediately recognized. Given this book is intended as a gentle introduction, I have given it four stars. For someone who is already used to thinking about cultural differences, this is just three stars… there are a few gems, some good s ...more
Ashley Tetzlaff
Feb 15, 2014 Ashley Tetzlaff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Wow! Wow! A must-read for anyone going overseas OR anyone who is friends with people from another country or sub-culture. Sarah explains hot vs. cold and high vs. low cultures. Very eye-opening. Being from the south (a hot culture) and marrying a northerner (cold culture), this was actually helpful in understanding some of the ways we communicate in our marriage. Very helpful book! Quick read, too :) And it even has summaries of the chapter "lessons" for quick reference.
William Rowell
A short but interesting book comparing 'hot' and 'cold' cultures. Overall the contents matched my experiences growing up in Canada and now living in Costa Rica, and even added an extra layer of understanding. However, for only being 120 pages long it was disappointing to come across the same stories and examples multiple times. With more unique stories and perspectives to draw on, I think the otherwise decent comparison between cultures would have been much more impactful.
Aug 27, 2013 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture
A quick, simple guide to general cultural differences, Foreign to Familiar conveniently summarizes some of the major roadblocks travelers can encounter when trying to adjust to another person's culture. Cultures are divided into two, extremely general categories- those stemming from hot climates, and those stemming from cold ones.
Basically, hot cultures are relationship oriented and indirect in their communication, while cold cultures are task-oriented and direct. This can lead to a variety of
Jenna Aycock
Jan 15, 2015 Jenna Aycock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this book and I couldn't put it down!With a small background in missions, I was automatically interested in the cultural differences of nations around the world. It's very short and well written! The information is clear and shows the difference between "hot" and "cold" cultures! Plus, Lanier's stories are keep your attention and interest!! Overall, a great read for any traveler or missions-minded person!
Brett Kistler
Mar 29, 2015 Brett Kistler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended highly by a fellow traveler. It's a really quick read (77 pages), and the hot/cold, direct/indirect, high/low-context scales are a great shorthand for taking on a useful perspective when dealing with different cultures. The author included just enough examples to get her ideas across without drowning the reader in anecdote -- I appreciated the brevity.
Jul 12, 2015 Katrinak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible, insightful, thought-provoking book that will challenge your perspective and assist you greatly in cross-cultural interactions. Having traveled extensively prior to reading this, I had so many ah-ha moments. I would highly recommend this to anyone who steps outside their own culture or who wants to better understand the diversity in our world. It is a short, easy to understand book and I am thankful for it.
Aug 02, 2014 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's certainly worthwhile to try to understand people from other cultures in our multicultural world, especially if we plan to spend time in other cultures. But I think the conclusions in this book are too broad and general to have much real-life application.
However, the practical tips in Chapter Nine seem sensible and helpful.
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Sarah Lanier, author of Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Hot and Cold Climate Cultures, which has been published in eleven languages, grew up in the Middle East and has served in Europe for 20 years as a trainer and consultant with NGOs and other cross-cultural workers. She currently serves as a consultant and trainer for the University of the Nations.
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