Anyways, I'm not trying to promote stereotypes, but these are simply things that are quite frequent here and are, more or less, unavoidable...
*Posts in all bold are recently added*
1. Vodka: It is a huge stereotype that all Russians love vodka and that Russians drink vodka all the time. However, Russians do tend to drink lots of the stuff. Why you might wonder? I'm not sure, perhaps to soften the blow of the winters. Perhaps to counteract all the sodium I assume that Russians take in. Who knows, but they do drink vodka and they have some good vodka here...and I don't really like vodka!
2. Dill (Укроп): Dill. It's literally everywhere in this country. Soups, meats, salads. Doesn't matter. 9 times out of 10 it's gonna have some dill on it. My first go-round in Russia had me hating the stuff, but I actually find myself liking it this time for some odd reason. I cannot, however, make any claims whatsoever as to why this stuff is everywhere. It just is. But like with sour cream (read on), I hated this the first time in Russia, but now I'm really enjoying it!
See that green stuff? Yeah, dill!
3. Cigarettes: Russia is very much a smoking country and cigarettes are cheap. Real cheap. Imagine a pack of Marlboro Reds selling for $1.40; yeah well that's Russia and those are American cigarettes. A pack of Russian cigarettes goes for maybe half of that. It's economically stupid to NOT smoke here. Seriously.
4. Cell Phone Cases: Russians love their cell phone cases. Everyone here seems to have one. These aren't the cases we have in the US where the just protect our phone, but the kind you actually have to physically take your phone out of in order to use it. Along with this, many people also rock the little cell phone charm thingys. I'm not really sure how to call these, but they are also everywhere. Craziness is guaranteed daily.
5. Sour Cream (сметана): Like dill, this stuff is literally everywhere. Order some soup....expect a pile of this stuff. Order...well, pretty much anything and your likely to encounter, on some level, sour cream. Actually hated this stuff the first time in Russia, but now...no so! It's still not my favorite, but then again borsch without sour cream isn't really borsch, so it's not all bad! It's pretty good!
6. Hot Dogs (сосиски): No beating around the bush here. In Russia, and in Elista particularly, hot dogs reign king. In the US I don't mind hot dogs, at least not a very limited basis, but they're a bit too prevalent here for my tastes. In all fairness to Russia, I've just never been a big hot dog/sausage eater.
7. Locked Doors: If Russia were a choose your own adventure book, it would be incredibly boring. Why? Because you'd find very few doors open and for those to which you had a key, there's a 50-50 chance it wouldn't work. Why are so many doors locked. I believe only Stalin knows.....
8. Weird American Music: Okay not all of it is weird, but I'm always fascinated by how musical artists we no longer hear about in the US, are hugely popular here. There are exceptions too, for example Eminem is like God over here. I hear 'Love the Way You Lie' EVERYWHERE! Mainly it's from my Mongolian dorm-mates, but that doesn't matter. Limp Bizkit - he's here. Avril Lavigne - she's here. Sum 41- they're here (I despise Sum 41). There is some other stuff too that you hear in the US, just not as often anymore: The Offspring, Metallica is on a lot, and a few other older rock bands. Brings back some serious flashbacks!
9. Cognac: This is Russia's other main liquor. Usually if it isn't vodka, it's cognac. I don't really encounter either vodka or cognac much here (thank God), but if I do, I tend to prefer cognac. Yes I know Russia is known for its amazing vodka, but I don't like the stuff, unless I'm 'dude-ing' it up and drinking a white Russian. Generally, cognac is my preferable way to go should the occasion arise.
10. Not using articles when speaking English: This is one is just funny, but I can't really blame Russians for it. Learning a new language is really hard and they don't have articles in Russian so it makes sense that they would consistently leave them out. I, on the other hand, get flustered when speaking Russian and I can't put articles in. Really throws me for A loop...haha
11. Tea (Чай): Russians drink tons and tons of tea...kind of how people drink lots of coffee in Seattle. This is a pretty sweet habit I have to admit, and one I've gotten myself into (though I still drink a ton of coffee). The main coffee here is really bad instant, but that's because coffee, like I'm used to, is quite expensive. While in Moscow I was able to pick up a single cup filter and some ground coffee...wow was it overpriced (though I don't care). So instead they drink tea, which is generally better for you anyways I think. It's pretty awesome.
Very popular, but cheap tea. Delish!
12. Security (Охрана): I was going to lump this in with the whole locked doors thing, but I decided it was something completely different. Many buildings here have security guards or something similar (my dorm has old women, but same concept). These people often times make you show ID before you can enter or explain yourself...often even after they've seen you come in and out a thousand times. In my dorm this isn't a problem, at least for me, however, when I go to the university sometimes I still have to, even though I have been here over two months and they've seen me come and ago almost everyday.
I'd like to thank Лия for these next few submissions, thank you for reading Лия!!
13. High Heels: I do not know HOW I forgot about about these!! Russian women wear high heels EVERYWHERE, on EVERYDAY, for EVERY occasion and no matter the weather. This is no small feat ladies, none at all. Russian sidewalks are faaaarrr from being easy to walk on, even with hiking boots. And in the winter when it's icy? Lord knows how they do it. In the big cities, they rock these things on the metro and don't have to hold on to nothing! If there was an olympic event in wearing high heels, no one would come close to the Russians!
14. High-heeled Boots (AKA Stripper Boots): These are exactly what they seem like: knee-high boots, often leather or pleather, with ginormous heels. Like regular heels, Russian women sport these with a confidence I can't begin to imagine and do so in the most trying of circumstances. It's downright impressive. Also, please don't take offense to my calling them stripper boots, it's simply the first thing that comes to mind when I see them. I love that these boots are totally workplace acceptable for virtually ANY workplace in Russia. College professor? No prob. Airport security? You're rocking the boots. Working at the Kremlin? ...well I'm actually not sure about this one, but sure why not!
15. Rapid Verb Repetition: This something I notice, but wasn't something I would have actively thought to put on the list until Лия brought it to my attention. While this is something I see everyday in Russia, I think it's common to pretty much every country/culture around the world. Whether it's давай, давай, давай!!! or сидесь, сидесь, сидесь!!! Russians are good at repeating the imperative forms of the verbs! But as I said, you're likely to encounter this in many different places, whether the US or Mexico or Germany. But still, the Russians do it well.
Thanks to Amanda for these next few! I appreciate it!
16. Documents (Документы): Again, how did I ever overlook this one? This is actually one of the things I dislike about Russia. Everywhere you go in Russia you need your documents and your papers. If you're in a city for more than 3 days, you need to register with the police. Russians have an in-country passport and a passport much like us Americans. I spent 30 minutes once trying to explain to a girl that we don't have to show documents in the US, we don't have two passports, etc. This one I actually don't like.
17. Mayonnaise: Russians love mayonnaise. This is one I tend to avoid at all costs, but regardless it's everywhere. There is a pizza shop here and you'd be hard pressed to find a pizza without mayonnaise on it...yuck. Also, one day I spent a 1,000 rubles at the local grocery and lo and behold, what do I get for spending such gargantuan amounts? 1.5 liters of water and a pack (yes pack, not bottle) of mayonnaise....mmmmm boy!
18. Fur (Мех): Fur coats, hats, whatever it is you want made out of fur, you can probably get it here. I myself have an ушанка (fur hat) made out of rabbit...or so I was told. You can get a bear skin rug, you can get whatever you want. Though I'd suggest you keep it here since PETA is considerably less active in the Federation.
19. Plastic Bags: Whether you're shopping or just carrying your stuff around, Russians tend to rave about plastic bags. I saw a couple once talking about how nice a plastic bag was once and even though I can't remember what INCREDIBLY ridiculous thing was on it, I can guarantee you it WAS ridiculous.
Here are a couple more of my own that I completely forgot!
20. Sushi (Суши): You don't find a ton of Asian food in Russia except for Sushi. I remember when I studied in St. Petersburg, sushi was everywhere, though I'm not sure I ever had any, except one time and I think it was either eel or snake...not sure. But they love Sushi and I've had it several times since I've come to Russia this time and even here in Elista...the middle of nowhere....there is some pretty tasty sushi. Not as good as what I had in Seattle, but certainly not as bad as I had there either (sorry Seattle).
Russia's biggest sushi chain
21. Milk in a bag: Yes you heard correctly. I said milk in a bag. What?! How?! Don't worry, you're not alone. The first time I saw this I thought to myself "Okay, now if I buy this bag of milk, I'm gonna have to use it all in one go...ain't happenin." I was miffed and, to a point, still am. Apparently there's a straw thingy or something you're suppose to use, but I don't care to figure it out. I'm sticking to milk in a carton. However, I don't think this phenomenon is limited to Russia. While we're on milk, Russians also love milk high in fat. I struggle to find 0.5% as 1% is the lowest I see on a regular basis, but 4.5% sure, why not?
*DO NOT google 'milk in a bag russia' or any of the variants. The search results are considerably more disturbing than one would expect.*
22. Vkontakte.ru: This is Russia's Facebook and it's ginormously popular and I hear Facebook hates it. If you don't really know what this is, it's more or less a crappier version of Facebook (slowly starting to update), but probably has better privacy policies...zing! Anyways, anyone who's anyone here has a vkontakte account...maybe you should too.
Thanks to redrelic17 (i.e. Ted Hixson) for these next submissions!
23. Pushkin: The guy is a national hero here and rightly so. He was a brilliant writer and poet and if you've never read any of his works, I recommend that you do so. Any and every city in Russia, I'm pretty sure, has a Pushkin ulitsa or Pushkin Bul'var or Pushkin Prospekt and will most certainly have at least 1 statue and a few busts of the man. Yet it's all worthwhile.
24. Poetry: Unlike (sadly) in America, poetry here is also really popular (see previous). Russians learn poems by heart from the time they learn to speak I'm pretty sure. Poems here, poems there, poems in books and everywhere. Russia is a country of poets and they do it well.
25. Kasha: Again, this one isn't necessarily limited to Russia, but it is hugely popular here. I don't like this stuff. Never been a fan of American-style oatmeal either. I'm not a horse, I don't need oats...at least not in this way. But they love it here, maybe with an egg in, maybe not. It's kasha so go wild!!!
These next few are from Molly Perkins...thanks Molly!
26. Sunflower Seeds: Yeah this is a big one here. Men chew these things like they're going out of style. I haven't actually seen these sold anywhere (then again I haven't looked ever either), but man the piles you see next to benches is ridiculous. You'd think you've been sitting at Yankee Stadium and the game has gone into extra-innings. Hmmm...I wonder if they have any of the crazy/delicious flavors we have in the US?
27. Football/Soccer: One in the same, but however you call it, it's popular here as it is in virtually every corner of the world, except for the big open spots...the oceans...oh wait I mean the United States. Being American means I suck at football and actually played with some students not long ago; my team lost all the games.
28. Apple Products: This one is interesting. Russians DO love Steve Jobs and every sweet, amazing, glorious, delicious product his company puts out (as I type from my mac! :-D ). However, very few people here have Apple products. Why? Because they're ridiculously expensive. An iPhone 3G (not 3GS) maybe $500. iPhone 3GS...$1,000. Computers are almost double what you pay in the US (US people...no more complaining about how overpriced Apple's amazing products are) and so is everything else. But many seem to want them.
I need to add one more of my in here really quick!
29. Parentheses: I finally had to ask what this trend was all about. In the US, we love our emoticons and we use them to their full extent. Russians, however, operate on a different level. Instead of a smiley face as you may be used to [ :-) ], Russians opt for the more excited, but considerably less obvious approach [ :)))))))))))))))))) ] and they often forgo the colon symbol making it less comprehensible. This is an important one to know if you ever type with a Russian:))))))))))))))))))))))))))
Alex Leeding, thank you ever so much for these next few entries. Your experience is valued!
30. Exact Change: Got any change? I definitely noticed this more in St. Petersburg than I do here in Elista, but old women (generally) and anyone else who happens to be taking your money...well, they don't like big bills. They prefer...no they love...wait...no they DEMAND exact change or as close to it as possible. And should you have the ultimate misfortunate of coming across a really mean one and you don't have exact change, something close and/or just big bills - well be prepared to get publicly berated or quite possibly be unable to purchase whatever it is you wanted in the first place.
The fabled 5,000 ruble note. Should you
come across one of these, you may as well toss it out because NO ONE is going to accept it....
31. Lines: This one has several different factors involved with it. The first being that there are two kinds of lines in Russia: one where there are 3 different lines all leading to the same place and one where your spot in line doesn't mean jack squat because anyone and everyone is going to come up and cut in front of you. The latter is hard to get used to as an American where we patiently stand in line for our turns to come up. The 3 different lines thing is confusing, but not the worst thing in the world, unless you combine the two and not only are you in the wrong line, but people are cutting. Lines also have lots of pushing in Russia, in the metro, at food places, anywhere and a majority is done by bashuskas, whom, if you push back you're a giant tool. So three line variants and when all three come together, it's the worst.
A few more I remembered...
32. Mushrooms (Грибы): I was reminded of this one yesterday as we celebrated the birthday of a fellow teacher. Most of us ordered the шашлык (shashlik - a kind of bbq), but she ordered fish that came smothered in mayonnaise (mmm!!), cheese (see next entry) and of course mushrooms. Everyone here loves mushrooms and they come on virtually anything and everything. Mushroom picking is a national pastime in many places as well. I'm 50-50 on this one as I only like certain kinds of mushrooms so it really depends on what kind they decide to give me.
33. Cheese-covered food: Russians cover everything in melted cheese and I've no idea why. I mean fish covered in cheese...meh. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE cheese, but it's not the kind of thing you can just throw around haphazardly. It needs to be taken care of and coddled and loved. You have to respect cheese.
It looks like this, but mushrooms, less artificial and on something much less appropriate than toast.
34. Fake Crab: This one is completely baffling. Yes, I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to get real crab into Russia from wherever it might be imported from, but man this stuff is gross. It looks fake, smells fake and tastes fake...maybe it should move to LA! Haha okay that one was a bit lame. But in all seriousness, this stuff is really popular here...perhaps against better judgment.
Thanks to Sara for these ones!!
The dreaded 'female' mullet....
35. Mullets: I, and many other Americans, call this the Dima Bilan. It's my understanding that this style is around thanks to him. Now many other countries, especially in Europe have a sort of pseudo-mullet style, but the Russians take it one step farther. There's really no better way to describe it than through a picture or two. Since the majority of my readers are American, they tend to know what mullets are.
The 'Dima' if you will
36. Slippers (Тапочки): Russians love their slippers and like in many Asian cultures, you generally don't wear shoes in the house, but rather slippers. There aren't anything special or even that particularly comfortable (my slippers back in the US are mucho better), but they're just the standard here. I wish I was better at forming good habits, then I could adapt this into my lifestyle....
37. Hors d'oeuvre/Appetizer (Закуски): These delicious little morsels of whatever they decide to serve are everywhere. Usually some meats and cheeses with some dill and sour cream in their somewhere. Definitely some black bread, possibly some caviar and usually a few other items. These are more than just appetizers though, this might be the only actual meal. If you get invited to dinner, you maybe not get a meal as you might be used to, but rather this sort of family-style snack thing going 'round with maybe some vodka or cognac to help wash it down.
38. Piroshki (Пирошки): These delectable little treats are everywhere in Russia as well. Some are fried, many are baked, but all, well almost, are delicious. In Seattle you can get these awesome things at 'Piroshky-Piroshky' (check 'em out! http://www.piroshkybakery.com/) at Pike Place or up on Madison. If you're in Seattle, I recommend it (the one on Madison has a much larger menu). Here in Elista, the Золотой Лёвь (Golden Lion) supplies me with mine. My favorite? Капуста (Cabbage). My least favorite? Some kinda that I bought that I think had fish and it was absolutely disgusting. No idea what it's called.
Thanks to Jeremy over in Virginia for these next few!
39. Dried Fish: This is a staple in Russia as it is in MANY countries and while I hear that these things are delicious, I'm slightly more hesitant. I've never been offered a dried fish by anyone and have no real desire to actually buy one of these things and try to figure it out on my own. They're a mystery to me, much in the same way a Rubic's cube is.
40. Ringtones: It seems like every Russian thinks they need an awesome ringtone. Whether it's a student headed to the university or a babushka with her cane and bags of groceries, you can almost bet that their ringtone will be more stylish, flashy and up-to-date than yours. It's hilarious when an older person has a flashy ringtone, especially coming from the US where it seems like a lot (but not everyone!) of people over 50 don't know what a cell phone is.
41. Kvass (Квас): This is an extremely mildly alcoholic drink (like O'Doul's has more alcohol than this) that is actually made from fermented bread. It's hugely popular here in Russia and well to be honest, I don't particularly care for it, but that doesn't mean it's bad. I guess I'm just not in the same 'kvass' as Russians....
42. Narcissism: I actually wasn't going to include this one, but I recently had an experience that brought this little number to light once again. I'd forgotten how prevalent it is. Russians are generally well-groomed and dress nicer than the average American. At the dance club the other night, mirrors lined the wall and if a Russian wasn't dancing with someone, then it seemed they were dancing with themselves in the mirror. They just better hope they can pull themselves away...
Thanks to Steph for these next few!
43. Banya (Баня): These are basically Russian saunas and they are the greatest. thing. ever. My home will have one someday. Anyways, they're tiny little wooden houses with brick ovens where the temperatures get ridiculously hot (A guy died in Finland this year during the national sauna contest). You strip down to your birthday suit and cram in there with your best friends where you proceed to throw some awesome smelling stuff on the heat (Eucalyptus many times), beat each other with birch branches and then either jump or get doused with 40 degree water. The Russians believe these extremes to be extremely beneficial in terms of health and I agree. You go to a banya and you walk out feeling like a million bucks. (Again, if your in Seattle, there's a banya place that's a little pricey, but the early morning happy hour is great. I recommend it! Check them out here: http://www.banya5.com/)
This picture is absurdly weird and correct....
44. Putin: Prime Minister, ex-President Vladimir Putin is hugely popular in Russia. He's sort of the MacGuyver of Russia. Women want him and men want to be him (he's a black belt in Judo you know). He casts a huge shadow over Russia even though he keeps Russia's leader tradition alive by being short: standing a menacing 5'5".
45. Weddings (Свадьба): I don't know what a Russian wedding costs, but it's gotta be expensive because they go all out. They have the limos, tons of photos in every beautiful, important place in the city. Lots and lots of vodka is involved and there's tons of people there. Russians love weddings and they have a 'no holds barred' kind of attitude towards them. Go big or go home...or maybe don't get married in this case.
Yes...those ARE doves....
Again, thanks to Alex for this one!
46. Shawarma: This tasty little guy is pretty much the Russian version of the Middle Eastern Gyro type things we see in the US. They're cheap, super filling and d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! They are, however, undoubtedly questionable in terms of health, both in content and in the way they were prepared. After returning home from Russia the first time I remember reading an article that said a few homeless men had been killing other homeless men and selling the meat to these stands. It didn't say where in Russia this happened, but you might as well start calling me Hannibal Lector....
47. Walking like You're Drunk: Perhaps this is just in my city of Elista, but I'm posting it regardless. Older women in my city seem to walk like they're completely smashed, moving from each side of the sidewalk to the other. They aren't drunk and this generally isn't a big problem, except for every time I walk. Walking has become equivalent to the Indy 500, but at much slower speeds. Every time I try to pass these women on the street, they swerve to the side I'm trying to pass on. This usually goes on for several tries, until I bust out my Heisman moves, press A+B and do a quick juke and a spin to get around them. Geez....
48. Pirated Everything: Russia, like China and many other places in the world, are big users of pirated everything. This means movies, music, software, everything. I'm a bit skeptical, however, at least as far as software is concerned since it seems every computer I've encountered here is fraught with viruses so I don't know about the software bit. And I'll discuss movies in the next one!
49. Dubbing Movies: Russians are notorious for dubbing movies. Putting subtitles in films costs too much money and takes too much time. Dubbing is simply easier and cheaper. They have, however, gotten considerably better at it. Back in the good ol' days it was one male voice for every male actor in the film and one female voice for every female character. I've even seen a film where a male voice is dubbed over every one in the movie, regardless of whether the person in the film speaking is male or female. For Russians, this isn't bad, but for foreigners it's a pain, especially when buying pirated DVDs claiming to have English. Well, they don't.
50. Computer games: For the, let's say 25 & under population, computer games are ginormously popular. Stroll into any computer cafe in Russia and you're guaranteed to see dozens of Russian kids playing WoW or some sort of zombie level from some COD game online. Most of which are played on Russian only servers of pirated copies of the games!
*UPDATE - FEBRUARY 26, 2011
51. Staring: Russians are masters of the deep, glaring stare. The first time I was in Russia it was unnerving, at least until I got used to it and started staring back. They will stare you down until you're nothing but dust and they'll enjoy it. The trick is to a) get really good at staring back (this is both quite easy and fun!) or b) make faces when people stare (this is also pretty fun!)
52. Public Displays of Affection (PDA): PDA is about as rampant a problem in Russia as stray dogs. When the weather is nice, everywhere you look you're bound to see a couple making out and/or more or less doing it on a park bench, in a cafe, on an escalator, anywhere! We always figured this was due to many young people living at home and unable to get some privacy around their families and couples making the most of the 'babushka by 30 rule' (if curious, ask me about this). While it gets pretty annoying, it can be entertaining. I can't tell you the number of times I seen men getting handsy only to watch the women slap their hands away. It's pretty funny see that happen.
52. Homophobia: This one is considerably less entertaining and quite sad, but true nonetheless. Homophobia is rampant here in Russia and when it comes up in my lessons or conversation, the words 'gay' or 'homosexual' conjure up giggles from virtually everyone. Russia seems to be more tolerant of lesbian couples, but not by a wide margin. Either way, being homosexual in Russia is a struggle (and they certainly do fight) and definitely scary.
53. Space: Russia is really the only competitor the US has in the space race. I mean Russia (or well the USSR) put the first man in space and now they, along with the US, operate the International Space Station. They are really into space and Yuri Gagarin (1st man in space) is a pretty big deal here.
54. Oil/Gas: Russia has a lot of crude oil (which it can't reach cause it's under the permafrost), but it also more or less controls the natural gas into Eastern and Central Europe, giving them their heat. Ever heard of Gazprom? Yeah, they control the most natural gas in the world. Guess where they're from. So when Ukraine or Belorussia does something to piss off Big Brother, Russia cuts off natural gas screwing them and a lot people further west...especially during winter.
55. Siberia: I'm not entirely sure Russia likes this, but like it or not, Siberia is a large, large portion of their country. It's big, it's cold in the winter time (I pretty much consider it uninhabitable) and it's a great place to stick people you don't like. Anyways, Siberia takes up 10% of the EARTH'S landmass and 77% of Russia's, but has only 25% of its population (thank you Wikipedia). Depending on who you talk to, depends on where it ends, but it begins, in the West, after the Ural Mountains and pretty much goes to the Pacific. Anyways, out there in the East also lives Putin's favorite wild animal: the Amur Leopard, one the rarest cats in the world (only 30-40 left in the wild).
Yes this cute little guy lives through snowy, snowy winters. Weird right?
56. Blini (блины): It's boggling to the mind how I forgot to add blini to this list, but considering this week is Масленица (AKA 'Butter Week') where the Russians eat a ton of 'pancakes'. I prefer to call them crepes in English because, to me, that's a better representation, but to each his own. Anyways, aside from this special week, these things are a Russian staple (though not as much here in Kalmykia). They're also super delicioso. They can be eaten as a meal itself with meat, cheese, onions, etc; they can be eaten with sour cream & caviar or they can be a dessert with chocolate, maybe some bananas or strawberries. Your choice and you'll rarely encounter a bad selection.
57. Caviar (Икра): Again I amaze myself by leaving out some of the most well-known items. Weird. Anyways, Russia is THE caviar place. There are a ton of different kinds ranging from really crappy fake stuff, to the amazing, super expensive black stuff. For those of you who don't know, true caviar comes from Sturgeon, 4 main types: Beluga (caviar from this fish is considered the best, but you can't legally buy this in the US and several other places in order to help protect the species), Sterlet, Ossetra and Sevruga. Caviar is pretty decent, though the thought of fish eggs sounds less appealing....
These next two come from Mr. Pat Passarelli if Ufa, Russia. You should check out Pat's blog here or it's over <--- to your left there (Rushing Blood).
58. Public acceptance (or at least passive allowance) of blowing snot-rockets and/or spitting..whenever, wherever: Yeah, I've seen this one and it's not an overly enjoyable thing to watch. I mean we've all blown a snot rocket or two, ALL of us have at some point or another, but it's rarely ever a clean take-off (if you know what I mean) and as such is simply disgusting. Also, spitting. This one is slightly less disgusting as a habit, but still pretty gross. The area just outside the entrance to my university is littered with three things: bird poop, cigarette butts and wet spots from everyone spitting. Yuck.
It's more disgusting and more dangerous here
59. Superstition #1 (there are MANY) - 'That drinking really cold water will give you a stroke': How they continue to believe in this one, it beats me, especially after the blistering summer they had here in Russia last year. To be honest, though, I've not come across this one in Elista, but then again it gets up to +40 or more pretty regularly during the summer so they know what it's like to be hot. I don't know where this belief comes from (I'd like to know) but it's there and it's not going anywhere. They also never use ice cubes, but we'll discuss that at another time.
60. Shaking Hands: Russians are big fans of shaking hands anywhere at any time. If you see someone you slightly know on the street and your hands are full of priceless artifacts from the Ming Dynasty, you juggle them and stop to shake hands real quick. I'm not a fan of this habit for two reasons: a) people's hands are dirty and generally I prefer not to touch them. For those of you who know or have seen Seinfeld, you'll know that Jerry doesn't like the 'greeting kiss' and is borderline on the handshaking. I agree. And b) I don't always want to stop and say hi to someone. It's no offense to you, I'd just like to get where I'm going.
61. World War II (AKA the Great Patriotic War - 'Великая Отечественная Война): Russians love, love. love this. You'll see banners around celebrating the anniversary of the end of WWII pretty much every year. They are extremely proud of how they did during WWII (and let's be honest, without them, the outcome would have been quite different) and they love to say THEY (not the Americans or British) won WWII, which is something I continually argue with them, saying it was very much a group effort, but of the three of us WE didn't have a secret pact with Hitler... Anyways, they love WWII.
62. The Morning Beer: I see this a lot less here in Elista (though I've seen it once or twice), but in the big cities you see it a lot. 8 am rolls around, you hop on the metro and there's a man or woman dressed quite nicely, heading to work, downing a beer (I'm not counting the people who've stayed out all and are just continuing to drink). Maybe this has something to do with the fact that until just a few days ago, beer wasn't considered alcohol here in Russia so perhaps that makes it more socially acceptable. Regardless of that though, it would surely be frowned upon in the West. Oh well, it's still pretty interesting.
UPDATE - APRIL 25, 2011
63. Soup: Russians are, in my opinion, masters of soup. It doesn't matter if you don't like Russian food because you WILL like Russian soup. Whether it's борщ или щи (borsch or shchie) or any other type of soup, the Russians are pretty good at it. Throw in a spoonful of сметана и укроп and you have a bowl of perfection!
64. Diplomas/Certificates: Russians love, love, LOVE to hand out certificates for EVERYTHING! Haha I'm not sure how much weight they actually carry, but they give them out like they're going out of style. My dorm has certificates that literally say (in Russian): "Best Dormitory Kitchen - 2nd Floor". This means the 2nd floor kitchen of my dorm received a certificate for being the best. This, to me, is baffling, but hilarious! *Each one is not official too, without that ever-important stamp.*
|This one is an actual diploma for university and not just a random one. I'll get a pic of a random one.|
65. Repetitive Calling: This is based on the idea that Russians never, ever turn their mobile phones on silent and that virtually nowhere is an inappropriate place to answer your phone. What this means to them is that it's strange when someone doesn't answer their phone, a fluke. So they call back. And they call back. And they call back. I might be in class and the same person will call me 6 times before finally giving up, but as an American I won't answer my phone in class. It's crazy.
UPDATE: JULY 4, 2011
66. Grannies - I find this one to be absolutely hilarious. No matter who you talk to in Russia, if they're speaking English and their grandmother comes into the conversation, it's never 'my grandmother' or 'my grandma' it's always 'my grannie'. Doesn't matter how distinguished the person is, they use the word Granny. It's funny and I like it!
67. Shirts Too Tight: I've noticed that many European men, but particularly Russian men, are like the Grinch. Only it's not their hearts that are two sizes too small, it's their t-shirts. In shape? Tight t-shirt. Really Skinny? Tight t-shirt. Severely overweight? Tight t-shirt. Doesn't matter, the t-shirt sizes in Russia seem to be two sizes too small. It's...weird.
68. Ice Cubes: This one isn't really so much of a 'StuffRussiansLike', but more of a 'StuffRussiansHate'. I don't know why they don't like ice cubes. Maybe it's superstition, maybe it's just dislike, but either way it's mind boggling. When it gets hot in Russia, you'd think some ice to cool off your (non-refrigerated) drink would be delicious, but nope. It isn't. It's scary and terrifying apparently...
So, Dear Readers, please keep your thoughts & ideas coming!
Bolded posts are the updated ones. Thanks for your comments so far, keep 'em coming!
So, Dear Readers, these are some very common things you're likely to come across should you visit the great country of Russia! Again, don't think I'm promoting any stereotypes, these are just daily (many, but certainly not all) experiences I have had whilst in Russia.