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

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  889 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Foreign to Familiar is a splendidly written, well researched work on cultures. Anyone traveling abroad should not leave home without this valuable resource! Sarah's love and sensitivity for people of all nations will touch your heart. This book creates within us a greater appreciation for our extended families around the world and an increased desire to better understand t ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by McDougal Publishing Company (first published 2000)
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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
Oct 15, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing
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
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
Feb 25, 2013 C.G. 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
Mar 30, 2014 Edie rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
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
Aug 12, 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
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 01, 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.
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!
Ahmad Alkouh
May 10, 2014 Ahmad Alkouh rated it really liked it
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.
May 12, 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
Jul 14, 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.
Kimberly Bidwell
Mar 06, 2014 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!
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.
Lisa Blair
Jan 07, 2014 Lisa Blair rated it it was amazing
An excellent book in helping one understand people from different regions and different cultures. Highly recommended!
Jenny Pena
Jan 29, 2017 Jenny Pena rated it really liked it
The book explains the differences in culture and would be a helpful read for those that like to travel around the world and also those that may go on short term missionary trips; gave me so much perspective on culture and how to be able to avoid situations in which you may be perceived as rude. Quick read and very practical.
Jan 11, 2017 Aimee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful cultural overviews

This book presents some really good generalities for understanding other cultures. It provides good practical questions to ask yourself as you interact with another culture to be sure you are evaluating yourself and how you are interacting with a culture different from your own.
Mar 04, 2017 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is an important read for anyone going to another culture. For a short time or a long time. Read this book. It will change the way you view, interact, and care for people in any culture.
Feb 03, 2017 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction into the subject of intercultural communication. If you plan on travelling anywhere, please read this book!!
Dec 13, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some examples were pretty obvious but there were a few interesting/entertaining ones to read about for cross-cultural encounters.
Jeremy Randall
Feb 12, 2017 Jeremy Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
simple. helpful.
Anne Snyder
Dec 28, 2016 Anne Snyder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is basically a must-read for those who care about other people and want to avoid conflict. It gives insight into how different cultures are, and why the things other people do make sense when you understand how those people think and view the world.
Mar 29, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 16, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
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
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
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.

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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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