Stockholm- A Culture Capital

Stockholm- A Culture Capital
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Russians are Like.

What are Russians like? I have been asked this a thousand times now, and after enough conversations I have worked out what I think is an honest answer, at least for those in Moscow.

Russians on first impression are soulless drones who go through the city without expressing themselves or doing anything with personality. At first I was overwhelmed by the apparent misery of the millions of people who had never learned to smile, but I slowly began to encounter the souls of these people. I’ve seen people melt from Robot to a raw loving being when they see someone they know, I have seen a group of friends start a dance circle in the middle of my metro car and shake with uncontrollable laughter, and I have seen a boy holding three umbrellas to try and cover himself and two girls in a rainstorm with success beaming across his face.

I find that Russians are truly ambiguous. On one hand they are rough and insensitive. From a tourist point of view they make no effort to welcome foreigners, cooperate with you when you are trying to speak Russian, or English, and are generally cold and pushy. They also have a streak of racism and bigotry that is not acceptable in ‘The West’; my students are often shocked by just seeing a Black person and need constant reprimanding for the use of ‘Nigger’ in class.

On the other hand once Russians get to know you they are very hospitable, passionate, and loving. They seem be rushing with life blood that is just dying to come out and let you in on everything it has to offer. I feel that you become family once you get past the preliminary meeting and prove you are ok to open up to and that they are truly very funny people. I have also met some very vivacious, radiant young Russians and it seems that the youth in Moscow are becoming much more open and friendly with foreigners and want to mix and mingle with the expat community that is so large there.

Now of course what everyone back home really wants to know is if they drink a lot of vodka, wear fur, and speak with deep accents like in the movies. I have to say that yes, a lot of the stereotypes are sound. Of course with all stereotypes they only apply to a certain percent of the population, but generally the fur is true, smoking is about as common as breathing, vodka is cheap and drank as a shot, and never mixed as a highball (Apparently mixing vodka and coke will make both taste worse.), and most new students do have an accent similar to that we see in cold war movies.

Overall, Russians can be very similar to us; I feel it is the mindset of Russians that make them different. The leftovers of tsarist and communist rule can still be seen. They are a society that has always been told what they can and can’t do, and despite capitalism and democracy they have not taken up freedom, as we know it. Something as simple as standing somewhere for a picture can be off limits, where as it wouldn’t even enter the mind of most westerners. However this won’t stop me from buying a fur hat and joining in on what make Russians the unique and wonderful people they are.


  1. Astute observations for your first few weeks in nasha Rasha, Mackenzie. Well said...though I can't say I notice much similarity between Hollywood Russian accents and actual Russian accents :)

  2. We get a lot of Russian tourists in our city, and Andrew and I can spot them immediately by the frowns on their faces and general hostility. Everytime we see a white person, we get excited, thinking, "New friends!?" and then we see the scowls. That said, we have made friends with one Russian girl here who's pretty nice, and our best friend from college is also Russian, so like any nationality, I guess it just depends on the person!