Kultur in Russland

The difference between European and Russian culture are so great that you could write many books about them. We have highlighted a few main points to aid your relations with the locals.

Hospitality: Food and hospitality are practically one and the same in Russia. If somebody has guests, there will be plenty of food provided at every moment of the visit. The range of food offered is seen as a measure of one’s hospitality. ‘Nu, chem. fas kormili?’ is roughly translated as ‘Now, what would you like to eat?’, and you will hear this frequently if you visit any Russian families. Once the meal begins, you may not refuse any food or drink offered as this will cause offence. The host and hostess will continually offer more and more food, and you can pay a large compliment to the chef by going to refill your plate before the host or hostess has a chance to offer you more. If you miss a course out, you will quickly hear short, mock-offended statements such as ‘not eating today?’ or ‘what’s wrong with my carrot salad?!’ It is customary to fill a guest’s plate even if he/she has insists that they are full. Even if this is the case, you will still be expected to clear your plate.
It is normal to share things such as cigarettes, food or drink with others, even complete strangers with whom you may share a train carriage.

Etiquette: If you are lucky enough to be invited into a Russian family’s home, bring them a gift. Wine or cake is suitable for this. Flowers are also popular, but make sure that the bunch contains an odd number of them, as even numbers of flowers are given at funerals. Be prepared to take your shoes off at the door.
Men visiting Russia will find that traditional gallantry such as holding doors open for ladies is not only appreciated but expected. Standing up to offer women your seat in public transport is also included in this. It is also customary to offer a hand to women to help them get off public transport.

Women Rule! The women in Russia do not simply dominate certain professions (doctors, teachers, sales people), they also dominate Russian life. Talk of emancipation in our countries does not even cover the situation in Russia. Women perform heavy physical labour, and also take care of the children as well as working. After retirement, many babushkas (grandmothers) look after their grandchildren.

Hotels
The dejurnayas (maids) are typically Russian. They keep the room keys and are the people to go to if you have any problems with your accommodation. They will do your laundry and ironing, sometimes prepare small buffets and call plumbers or electricians if their services are needed.

Public transport
The best, fastest and cheapest mode of transport for exploring Moscow and St. Petersburg is the extensive metro network. At the entrance you can buy a ticket for 10 or 20 train rides. It is efficient and cheap. The costs are around 140 roubles for 10 journeys in Moscow and 160 for 10 in St. Petersburg (prices are approximate and subject to change). All attractive areas and tourist sites in the cities have a metro station nearby. These days, the names of the different stops and stations are given in English. In every carriage you will find a Metronet timetable on the wall with the station names. These are also given in English.

In general
Remember at all times that you are guests in a foreign land, where other customs apply. Their behaviour is not strange or foreign, yours is!

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