Mar 29, 10
Though it markets itself as a catch-all guide for expatriates moving to Chile, "Culture Shock" is really for corporate types from wealthy, Western countries who are being transferred to Santiago. And who have a more-than-healthy fear about it.
While the book does do a minimally acceptable job of summarizing the idiosyncrasies of Chilean culture, the authors' dead-on-arrival writing style, aforementioned class bias, and inability to scratch below the surface of Santiago's social elite, make this a highly uneven read. The authors even cite Chile's water as being universally safe to drink - this is true in many parts of the country, though those who are heading north and do not wish to spike the arsenic count in their blood streams should choose to abstain.
If you haven't caught on to the author's class leanings by the time you read that it's never appropriate to use the familiar "tú" form to refer to the "hired help," take the following paragraph:
"The rise in foreign investment has been accompanied by a change in attitude. Foreign capital is now seen as a business partner in the country's development. This is a drastic change from the 1960s when the predominant view was that multinational corporations served only to strip the country of its wealth without stimulating further development."
While infuriating in its own right, it is also factually wrong: many (if not most) Chileans, and that even includes a healthy number of the spoon-fed corporate ladder-climbers whom seem to make up the bulk of the writers' circle of friends, resent the heavy role that foreign corporations - and particularly Spanish ones - play in Chile's economy. Fortunately, few Chileans outside of the Piñera administration actually believe the laughable "partner in the country's development" line.