Warning! This post is full of grammatical mistakes.1. Babushka’s (Grandmothers) often center of families. Take care of children and are tough. They will take no grief from anyone. They will push you on Metro or out of way at store to get to front of line.
2. Russia is child centered society. Most absolutely love their children. Children become a good discussion point, when you have become friends.
3. The new Russians have different set of values than older Russians. They often are focused upon conspicuous consumption and acquisition.
4. This is difficult period for pensioners. The are often poor, resentful of government inaction and afraid that society has left them behind, and questioning if anyone still appreciates their contributions.
5. Role of “Kitchen Culture” You have been accepted into Russian society, when you can sit late at night in a Russian kitchen with borscht bread, vodka and discuss philosophy. Be prepared for longer and more intense personal discussions than most Americans are accustomed to.
6. You will see war memorials in each city... and veterans with their ribbons. The war killed one of three people in many places and was shaping event for that generation. Russians have great difficulty understanding why we pay so little attention to past wars.
7. If you are invited to homes, bring candy, flowers or a bottle of wine or liquor. Never refuse an invitation to a home or dacha. It is in homes that you really get to know people.
8. Remember March 8th, which is International Women’s Day. You will give gifts to the women in our office. If you are either working in Russia or with them on teams, remember to give gifts or congratulate them on that day.
9. Little business is done in last half of December or first part of January and half of May during holidays. Plan ahead on your projects knowing that many are on holiday or not in office. It is worst time to schedule meetings.
10. Don’t forget thirteen day difference in holidays between Julian and Gregorian calendars... for Russian Christmas.
11. Number of Russian traditions. These include:
* leave your shoes at doors of homes or apartments, They will give you slippers. It is rude to walk barefoot or in stocking feet.
* Do not give a birthday card early, but at party or later. If you give it early, it is considered bad luck.
* Never, ever forget a Russian birthday. It is a major event.
* You are expected to have the ability to present toasts during events as well as knowing anecdotes. Russians have one of the most visible senses of humor of any nation.
* You are expected to be able to discuss art, literature and culture. Russians view Americans as lacking in culture. Russians read three times as many books as we do. Even if poor, in book stores concerts and read newspapers and books on Metro. You will se many children take out a book as soon as they sit down on Metro.
* Never shake hands across a threshold. It is considered bad luck and many believe it will lead to an argument.
* Never shake hands with your gloves on. It is an insult.
* Never make sign “Ok” with fingers. It is considered very low class and rude.
* Avoid the peace sign “V” with second and third fingers and palm facing inward. It is the same as giving them a finger.
* It is best to give a thumbs up if you approve or really like something...
* Never criticize Russian history or society. They wish to forget some eras and Russians wish to be proud of their history and heritage.
* Never tell them how America is more advanced. In many cases now, it is not true.
* Never use profanity, especially around women. You will lose all credibility and be seen a low class.
* Never sound like we are lecturing them. They wish to be seen as equals and resent greatly if someone appears to be better.
* When in Russian churches, women should wear scarves and conservative dresses.
* It is considered bad luck to light a cigar from a candle on a restaurant table.
* Monday is considered a bad to begin a journey or business venture.
* A cat should be the first creature to cross the threshold of a new home.
* Women should never sit at the corner of a dinner table. It is felt they will never marry for seven years. It is also felt that such bad luck will come to men.
* Spitting three times over one’s shoulders prevents bad news.
* Russians rarely point or wag a finger at others across a table. Never point or gesture with your knife or any implement during dinner. It is the height of rudeness and bad breeding.
* If offered seconds, always accept, even if a small portion. It is an insult to refuse.
* If you are seated before the other guests arrive, arise to be introduced to them. Do not remain seated.
* When giving flower, remember to give an odd number of roses or flowers. Do not give an even number.
* Do not wear bluejeans or t–shirts to a home of a business associate but can wear these to a dacha.
* Snapping your finger against your neck indicates that someone else has or will be drinking alcohol.
* Do not speak or laugh too loudly in public.
* Never pour wine backhanded. This is insulting.
* Do not wear your outdoor coat indoors.
* Do not have luncheons on park lawns.
* Always sit quietly for a moment of joint silence, if leaving for trip.
* Knock on wood three times to avoid bad luck.
12. If you are invited for dinner make no other plans for that evening. You will be there a long time.
13. Toast are always for the hostess first, then for women and then for others. When you are ready to leave, there will be order of “passashock”, which have a historical tradition to them. After toasts. clink glasses, unless you had non–alcoholic beverage in glass.
14. Always reconfirm all appointments.
15. At concerts and events, applause will be rhythmic to show approval.
16. Russians will be aware of every person playing in the NHL, and often the NBA but will be completely baffled by American football(real football is soccer) or baseball. You will never be able to fully explain the rules of baseball, so try and learn something about hockey or basketball.
17. Russians love to fish. If you are a fisherperson, or often a hunter, you are on path to being considered a good human being in Russia.
18. Nothing is eve really considered broken in Russia, but simply has not yet been fixed.. This is true of cars, machines,etc. Russian are extremely innovative, because for years had to fix everything with no spare parts.
19. Russians often consider payoffs to service people as normal. It included a bottle to the plumber, payments to the doctor for special treatment. The concept of “blat”..It is better to have 100 friends than 100 rubles.
20. The true Russian comes out at the dacha(summerhouse). Potatoes and vegetables are planted and bottled. Like our lake houses. “Shashlik” done by men, with special recipes. Now developing year round places near cities. Often, the families will move to dacha for the summer.
21. Russians do not like lines. Will often push ahead to get to front.
22. You will see many women standing in apartment yards, gossiping and taking care of their children. The concept of “doing lunch” with other women is new and often limited to upper classes.
23. People watch television, but don’t believe what they see or read. They understand that information is controlled, but believe that is normal way of life, which they have always known and don’t have many other choices.
24. Russians will not share secrets with strangers. There is tradition of not speaking openly on phone, if possible, but rather in person. There is strong feeling that much information is private and they will share it only if have become trusted.
25. There is a zero sum mentality among many Russians. Often difficult to get different groups to work together, because they feel their ideas or position will be stolen.
26. Russians have seen little benefit in Democracy and much of capitalism is seen as benefiting small groups of elites or criminals.
27. Dancing in restaurants very popular. There will be guards to throw out drunks by about 10:00. This also cuts down on fight between drunks.
28. Russians love to walk, even in winter in center of Moscow and other cities.
29. Russians love ice cream, even in coldest parts of year.
30. As part of wedding celebrations go to Sparrows Hill near Moscow State University or to Eternal Flame at Kremlin. Actual ceremonies very small with larger wedding parties following.
31. Many of new rich have homes in London, Spain, Cyprus and France.
32. It is considered sign of middle class success to go abroad two or three times per year.
33. Many Russian women believe Russian men lazy or won’t cook or help around the house, or drink too much.
34. Many women have had abortions–Do not see this as moral or political issue and cannot understand why Americans discuss issue.
35. Many Russians strongly anti–homosexual, but have known gay clubs and public officials.
36. See government as separate from citizens, not as “We the people” are the government
37. Just developing concept of long term credit and mortgages on houses and cars. Often pay fully or in two parts for houses.
38. Still strong fear of failure. See failure as end and not just bump in road.
39. Love to have guests at homes or at dachas, but usually need to call ahead and set future time, rather than just dropping in because you were in neighborhood.
40. Make appointments but reconfirm a few days before, the day before appointment, and often even the day of meeting.
41. Touching and walking arm in arm is considered acceptable for friends both male and female.
42. Russians rarely speak with people they don’t know on streets or metro, not like small town Minnesota.
43. Coats are kept at the “gardarobe” at concerts and events... You will usually leave small tip for attendants.
44. Russian tipping is usually smaller than our ten or fifteen percent... except at fancy restaurants.
45. Russian circuses are considered very special and being a clown is an honored profession.
46. Ethnicity is viewed differently in Russia than in US. There are White or great Russians and then everyone else. Caucasians are dark skinned and have most discrimination and looked down upon and often are the people you see working in public markets.
47. Will do “Chuckchen” jokes... they are the Iowa jokes...
48. Stay away from demonstrations. May be seen as participant and you have no rights.
49. Americans are clearly identified on streets because of our shoes, haircuts, the way we look confident and walk and smile.
50. People dress well at work men in suits and women in dresses and make up. Most Russians consider us unfashionable when they come her and wonder why there are so many fat people. There is an old Russian proverb which states” They want to meet you depending on how you’re dressed and they say goodbye depending upon how wise you seem.”
51. Never do drugs in Russia. There is strong drug culture, but if you are caught, you have no rights.
52. There are limits on taking money out of country... You can ask for declaration, or have bank statement and other times are just waved through... no problem taking money into Russia.
53. Get to airport early. Lines move slowly and they will take everything out of suitcases at Delta at Sheremetevo Airport.
54. Remember that hierarchy and position is very important in Russian organization. Where you are in any organization often defines your status and that a distance exists both organizationally and psychologically between workers on different levels.