Skip to comments.Russian Stereotypes
Posted on 10/27/2005 11:14:34 PM PDT by jb6
The way of life in Russia is very simple. Russians love to eat rye bread with herring and drink vodka the same way British drink their 5 o?clock tea. The fashion for fur coats and hats is at all times high and the cold winters are impossible to survive. The university professors have to sell matryoshkas to foreigners, and former teachers work as security guards and loaders. The average salary is $150 per month, but president Putin is still loved by all the nation. Playing balalaika and drinking vodka is their only entertainment and refuge from this hostile world. Especially, in light of the fact that at any moment there can be another explosion set up by the Chechens that will put an end to this miserable existence. The only hope is the children, who are keen fans of the band TaTu and dream of fleeing the country as soon as they are 18. A few dozen people who managed to make some money on the immense oil fields now live in exile, and Russia will soon go back to communism.
Seems like an interesting country, doesn?t it? If you truly believe some of the things above, you urgently need to get a visa and buy a ticket to Russia to make sure you have and adequate perception of reality. Or at least see this unique country before it ceases to exist. Just to prepare you for the trip, we decided to shed some light on these myths. Hopefully next time there will be fewer people packing their trekking gear instead of the casual clothes and cashing all their credit card money expecting no ATMs next time they travel.
Let?s start with the most practical topic, prices. With Moscow steadily earning the 3rd place the list of the world?s most expensive cities, how can one expect a family to survive on a $150 salary? Yes, these are the official figures, but the majority of Russians get most of their salary in sealed envelopes to save on taxes, so the rumors about total poverty are simply not true. While life in Russia is cheaper than in Europe, it is perhaps even more expensive than in the US. That is unless you live in a small town like Borovichi, have a free apartment from the good old Soviet system, and don?t mind buying your groceries from the market on a regular basis. Besides, most Russians have small private datchas (countryside houses), where they spend summers and grow vegetables and berries. The thing is, if you want the western standard of living, then Moscow or St. Petersburg will come at a high price. However, if you travel to smaller towns, everything is going to be much cheaper.
The fur hats and coats is a total myth. While some Russian women like to wear fur coats in winter, majority of people prefer more practical clothes or simply can?t afford these $2000 coats produced in Greece, actually. Also, if you see somebody wearing a fur hat, there?s a 80% chance he is a foreigner. Sometimes this myth is intensified with the idea that Russians also like to carry rifles, which come handy to kill occasional bears roaming around, but just recently this became an official state secret, so we can?t elaborate.
The fact that there is a big unemployment problem, especially among those who used to work in the public sector, is true. However, things are improving and those who were able to adapt to the new realities usually managed to find a good position that utilizes their potential in full. It?s not 1993 anymore?
The total fear of terrorist acts and all kinds of natural disasters and catastrophes is something that is very often exploited by media. But a simple explanation is that Russia occupies one sixth of the world?s territory and basically, with everything else equal, it is supposed to account for roughly 17% (one sixth) of all disasters in the world. As for the terrorist acts, well, Russia is not more dangerous than any other western country nowadays. Given the state of today?s politics, Russia holds the same risks in this regard as the U.S. or Europe, unfortunately. Just stay away from the risky areas, such as Chechnya and it will not affect you in any way.
It is also a popular stereotype that Russians are racist. This is simply not true. While other countries are buried deep in their immigration policies, concerns, and debates, Russia is further relaxing its immigration policy. There are talks that no visas will be needed for EU citizens as soon as 2008, and there are incentives for workers from the neighboring CIS countries to come and work on a legal basis in Russia. In a recent nationwide poll conducted by VTsIOM (the local research agency), only 10% of Russians said they are concerned with immigration issues. In fact, in a country that is a home to so many different nationalities and that was always promoting the idea of being equal irrespective of status or race, racism is simply not possible.
The popular portrayal of Russia as a country that is steadily moving towards economic collapse and authoritarian government is something that might sell well, but is far from reality. The case of Yukos and Khodorkovsky, back tax claims, and other recent events are, of course, alarming, but it is simply a natural stage of the initial capital accumulation. Many capitalist countries went through this, and many democratic societies have rich establishments, while a majority of private property is also distributed among a few people (or families). Russia is simply repeating the standard path and you can?t expect the total transformation in just 15 years. Two steps forward, one step back, but we?ll get there! Besides, the potential for growth, especially in public sector and hi-tech sectors is impressive and can?t be ignored.
Overall, Russia is a very diverse and interesting country, which has its flaws and gems. The best approach is to be friendly, open-minded, and to preferably come with a lot of money. Try to enjoy the sights, have lots of fun, go to clubs, do a trekking trip in Siberia, get yourself invited for a dinner with a Russian family, and perhaps even invest in some small company that might become a future Microsoft.
You know what one thing about Russian community in Fairbanks AK they are nice MAN they know how drink that vodka ROFL
Yeah, I'm usually worse for wear after any night with them...but I'm a light weight these days: work, grad school, kids...who's got time for a hang-over?
Yes, but corruption and criminal gangs problem are still a very serious problem.
The article kinda glosses over the fact that most people get the majority of income under the table, which just hints at the severity and depth of the corruption issue.
Yeah I don't know how anyone can pound that stuff. I can knock back good Puerto Rican rum all night (and have, in fact), but vodka...ouch.
No mention of beautiful Russian women?
That's taken for granted. :0)
Maybe that explains why I can empty a fifth of Bacardi Superior with a buddy of mine but spiced rum throws me for a loop ;^)
Not as bad as Southern Comfort...smooth as silk...and then kicks you in the nads over and over and over the next day.
I understand they don't age well.
That's a shame. I've always thought those big fur winter hats were kinda of spiffy. I kinda wanted one for myself.
Nice picture! Do you have a link to a webcam which shows people?
I've been there. Saw more vodka than water. And I never knew what the heck I was eating. Beatiful women, though. At least, the young ones.
The total fear of terrorist acts and all kinds of natural disasters and catastrophes is something that is very often exploited by media.
I've always thought those big fur winter hats were kinda of spiffy. I kinda wanted one for myself.
No. There was one but doesn't work now :((
I'd guess that "under the table" income has been a normal way of life in Russia since the Bolshevik Revolution.
Yes, you're right. Anyway this concerns mainly white-collars.
But this is a club variant :)
I mean the one on the picture.
I wore that style way back when I was a teenager in Northern Pennsylvania. It was worn by nearly everyone.
But where are the bears, wild drunken hunters and communist parades? I don't understand, how could this be Russia...it looks normal? Urg, at least I know each and every family has dozens of matrushkas as their children's only toys. /sarcasm
They're not a total myth and in sub-artica/artic you need the real fur for its oils, synthetics build up such static that the shock can arc between people several feet apart. But they are very expensive.
Eeehh? Not my mother in law, she aged darn well and so did her friends. You're thinking Koreans.
He categorically denies that anyone drinks or that he has ever even seen a drunk on the job. But look behind him...==
:))) He probably has different definition of "drunk":).
Many Americans ARE extremely fat.
Many Russians are drunks.
No big revelation in either of those statements.
A good part of male Russians, especially those living in Siberia, wear them too.
Russians in Siberia, like Yankees in Northern Pennsylvania, know how to keep their head warm in bitter cold.
Note: Bitter Cold in anything near 0 F.
This equals -18 Centigrade. To my mind it's within normal winter range. 14 F is comfortably warm temperature for winter. It's cold when it's below -22 F.
I remember being threatened with an assignment to the Antarctic for a years tour back when I returned from Viet Nam. I made the mistake of keeping my hair long enough to comb and handlebar mustache. Yes Captain Im heading for the barber shop right now. Im not a fan of cold. I dont ski, snowmobile or engage in any outdoor activity in winter. Here in Southeast Virginia, I consider cold anything below 50 F. Bitter cold is anything below 30 F with breeze. Guess Im spoiled.
You'd probably skied if you lived in Northern Montana :) Would you move there once you've been offered a 20% high wages job?
The Russians who lived in my nabe in New York (recent arrivals, Christians), were rude, pushy and racist. I think it has more to do with social class than ethnicity though.
I went to Russia in May: Moscow and then Kaluga for a week. That thing about them and vodka...it's true.
About the only thing that would convince me to move to Northern Montana would be the absolute guarantee of peace and quiet (no new arrival Hollywood types, no Big City Liberals) and being close to a large military medical center.