- 6 tradition clashes I had as an American girl touring alone in Russia
- 1. The language barrier was extra pronounced than I would anticipated.
- 2. Not like Individuals, Russians do not are inclined to smile at strangers.
- 3. Russia’s views on gender appeared outdated.
- 4. Many of the Russian girls I noticed had a extra historically female fashion — with completely manicured nails, lengthy flowing hair, immaculate make-up, and excessive heels — than I am used to seeing in New York.
- 5. Recycling didn’t appear to be a factor in Russia.
- 6. Exchanging enterprise playing cards is important.
6 tradition clashes I had as an American girl touring alone in Russia
This summer season, I spent 12 days touring by way of Russia for Enterprise Insider.
I even bought to spend an evening within the $18,000-a-night presidential suite on the Moscow Ritz-Carlton. Considered one of my most memorable experiences was visiting a 200-year-old Russian bathhouse, the place I paid $85 to be whacked with branches and doused in ice-cold water.
Whereas my travels had been principally clean crusing, I did expertise some cultural clashes. Listed here are six cultural variations that tripped me up in Russia.
1. The language barrier was extra pronounced than I would anticipated.
Sadly, I do not communicate any Russian.
Whereas I would anticipated communication to be difficult in rural Siberia, I believed extra folks may communicate English in Moscow, the capital metropolis. However even at eating places and retailers within the capital, I discovered that many locals spoke little to no English.
Happily, due to a mix of hand gestures, my trusty Google Translate app, and mercifully affected person Russians, I used to be capable of make it work.
2. Not like Individuals, Russians do not are inclined to smile at strangers.
At first, I used to be intimidated by lots of the Russians I noticed, considering they appeared stern and unfriendly. However I quickly realized they merely do not smile at strangers the best way Individuals do.
Within the US, we anticipate smiles from folks we do enterprise with, from the one who serves us our espresso, and even from folks we by chance make eye contact with. This was not the case in Russia.
As Olga Khazan wrote for the Atlantic, some cultures — together with Russia — understand smiling for no obvious purpose to be an indication of stupidity.
However regardless of their stony facial expressions, everybody I met or requested for assist in Russia was completely pleasant and useful.
3. Russia’s views on gender appeared outdated.
A number of feedback Russians made to me throughout my journey made me assume that the views on gender within the nation aren’t fairly the identical as within the US — or at the very least in liberal New York Metropolis, the place I dwell.
Francesca Ebel wrote for the Related Press earlier this yr that whereas girls in Russia could maintain outstanding authorities positions, “conventional gender roles nonetheless maintain sway, and efforts to handle issues just like the gender pay hole, home violence and sexual harassment have hardly scratched the floor.”
All through my journey, locals appeared shocked that I used to be touring alone in Russia as a lady.
Throughout my two-day journey driving the Trans-Siberian Railway— the longest practice line on this planet — one of many Russian girls sharing my compartment requested me, “You are not afraid to journey in Russia alone?”
I shrugged. “Not likely.”
“As a result of we’re,” she stated. “Russia is a harmful place.”
Whereas I used to be visiting a diamond mine in Siberia, a publicist for Alrosa, the nation’s largest diamond miner, advised me that medical doctors suggest girls do not work within the mines as a result of it may hurt their reproductive well being.
And later in Moscow, knowledgeable contact I spent a day with opened a automobile door for me after which instantly appeared involved. He turned to me and requested in all seriousness, “In America, is it thought-about harassment now to open a door for a lady?”
4. Many of the Russian girls I noticed had a extra historically female fashion — with completely manicured nails, lengthy flowing hair, immaculate make-up, and excessive heels — than I am used to seeing in New York.
As Yekaterina Sinelschikova wrote for Russia Past, “a Russian girl by no means seems in public with out making herself up first (which frequently means basis, powder, rouge, mascara, and one thing else to her style) — even when she’s simply taking out the trash.”
With my denims, sneakers, and unstyled hair (I like to think about it as effortlessly tousled), I typically felt underdressed on the streets of Moscow.
“For girls, demonstrating femininity . is the secret when selecting what to put on,” Sinelschikova wrote.
5. Recycling didn’t appear to be a factor in Russia.
At any time when I went to toss stuff away throughout my journey, I could not discover a recycling bin — only a rubbish can.
Recycling is seemingly not but frequent in Russia. Solely seven p.c of Russia’s waste is recycled, in keeping with France 24. Some overflowing landfills have been identified to spontaneously catch on fireplace.
6. Exchanging enterprise playing cards is important.
Exchanging enterprise playing cards is a standard observe within the US, however in Russia, it appeared completely important.
Nearly each time I met knowledgeable contact in Russia, they handed me their enterprise card inside 30 seconds of introducing themselves, prompting me to scramble to dig round in my bag for my very own.
Many of the enterprise playing cards I used to be given had been printed in Russian on one facet and English on the opposite.