Russia Survival Guide BLOG

Russian Tradition of visiting someone’s home. Part 2

Sometime it is very surprising for foreigners, when a dialogue about last weekend turns into debates  about the reasons for the collapse of Soviet union or the course of action in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Another thing to remember is that not all humor is international. If you tell a joke that is funny to you it may not be funny to the Russian listener and vic-versa.  Things also often get lost in translation, so don’t worry if your jokes don’t make everyone laugh.

One of comments from my clients is that it is very easy to underdress. Russian always dressed very well (in restaurants and parties, going to gosti), people always wear their best clothes for any occasion.   They will dress the same clothes going to museum in the morning and  then to a party in the evening.

Some other rules of unofficial communication in Russia:

-                When you invite woman for dinner, automatically you are paying for her, she will expect it.  People do not go «Dutch.»  Maya: As an American woman this is always difficult for me because I am afraid that the other person expects something if they buy me dinner, coffee or whatever.  This is however not the case.  Men pay because it is the manly thing to do!

-                Don’t let a lady to care something heavy.  Maya:I find this to be a little bothersome. I am a strong woman and can carry as much as most men, but because I am female I shouldn’t.  Men will take my bag, which is often quite heavy and filled with books and opera scores, but I often prefer to carry it myself.

-                For Russian men is natural to let women enter through the door first and to hold the door. It is just politeness.  Maya: This is something I get confused by with my American up-bringing.  I never know what to do so I feel a little awkward – I am lucky if guys in the states don’t let the door slam in my face!

-                Always offer seats to old people in public transport.

-                If you are coming for birthday party, you don’t need to bring anything except a present.

-                Also don’t be surprised if you are invited for an overnight stay (with the excuse that it is too lake to go home).  It is not a problem however to get a taxi at any time and one should not feel obligated to stay.

Read more  in later posts. Or in our book.

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