Russian Culture: At A Glance

When a person hears the word "Russia", several stereotypes, controversial facts or rumors based on real and made-up events come to mind. These stereotypes, cultivated to a great extent by mass media, may even frighten foreigners. They may find Russia amazing and strange at the same time because a lot of things make their mind swell with questions and still remain incomprehensible. Some of these things may either frustrate or surprise you.

Russian culture is amazingly rich in history and tradition that’s why it has always been mysterious. It has a long history and tradition and Russians are very proud of it. When one attempts to search for answers to all the questions about Russia, he may be confronted with a lot of complexities. Russia is not behind the iron curtain anymore, nevertheless, people from other countries cannot fully understand the Russian means of living.

Russians consider themselves as a well-educated nation. They are fond of attending live performances at theatres: opera, musical, ballet, drama etc. Russian drinking traditions are very much of a cultural thing, and they drink with a reason. When a person drink and does not get drunk, he is respected. More friends will even respect you if you drink more and don’t get drunk while refusing to drink as much as the rest of the group is considered disrespect. Here are a few suggestions on how to get to know Russians in their own environment and avoid making the following social blunders:

- Conversing too loudly – it is important to keep your voice lower to a minimum either in a public place or at home. Unlike Americans, Russians dislike broadcasting their opinions for everyone else to hear. They prefer to be quiet, polite and not try to dominate a conversation.
- Smiling a lot: In contrary to the notion that everybody loves a nice, sunny smile, this is not applicable to Russians as they only smile when they feel there is a need to. They find constant smiling silly, but even though they do not smile as much as Americans do, they wish you well and are very kind.
- Dishonesty: Russians appreciate openness and value honesty.
- Making negative judgments: Never openly criticize. Think twice before making overly negative comments.
- Wearing your shoes inside the house: Take off your shoes in the entryway because most often, your hosts will have a set of slippers for you to wear during your visit. Furthermore, take off your coat in any building that has a coatroom which most building has.
- Expecting a Tour: Personal space is generally of great importance unlike Americans, who often greet guests by touring them around the house. Never venture off into areas of the house where you have not been invited. Russians are more secretive about their personal lives so, anticipate spending your time in the common areas of the house.
- Habitually making an apology: Only say "I’m sorry" when you’ve actually done something offensive.
- Talking Politics: Find other subjects to talk about aside from politics and avoid criticizing the Russian leadership. Avoid debates too. National pride is part of being a Russian.