Before talking about Russian culture and its people, let me provide some basic information about Russia. Russia is the largest country in the world and does not own its landmass to one single continent. Partly Europe, partly Asia, simply known as a Eurasia country. The country has a population of 146,053,893 as of June 1, 2022, in a land area of 16,376,870 Km² (6,323,142 mi²), equivalent to 11% of the total world’s landmass of 148,940,000 Km² (57,510,000 square miles).
Language is one thing you cannot learn or adjust to overnight. Take it or leave it, their language is one of the most difficult languages in the world. In addition to the emphasis on how difficult it is, Russians themselves know their language is difficult. Anyways, that’s not to scare you away, especially if you are planning to study in Russian, it’s a bridge you can always cross. Their teaching of the language and your friendly nature with fellow foreigners and Russians will help you develop your communication faster.
Now, let’s talk about things you should know about Russian culture and people before you find yourself in the biggest country in the world. These will be discussed as the do’s and don’ts in Russia.
Do’s in Russian Culture
- Always remove your glove before shaking hands in Russia. It is considered rude to shake people with your gloves on. This may be a little bit challenging for anyone who is not used to the cold, but meetings are very uncommon on the road during winter.
- Address Russians you are meeting for the first time with ‘вы’ (You), it’s a sign of respect. Interestingly, when you are used to each other, ‘ты’ (you) doesn’t matter anymore, even with the wide age difference between you two.
- In Russian culture, gift-giving is of great importance, no matter how little. A cake, tea, or even a biscuit goes a long way. Never go empty-handed to a Russian home because they are always prepared for visitation like a mini get-together.
- Install basic mobile applications on your phone for easy access to any of your destinations. The applications you will be needing are 2gis and Yandex Taxi. 2gis will lead you straight to anywhere, you can change the language in the settings to your preferred language. Also, you can always see Yandex taxi services in any part of the Russian Federation.
- Respect people’s privacy, with your neighbours, in the bus or metro together? Minimize the volume of your devices not to distract others, and always put on your earpiece. Equally, don’t start a conversation on general topics with Russians you don’t know.
- Always be prepared to take pictures, and answer some basic questions from Russians, especially on your first day of communication.
- Have Russian friends and never ignore the companies of your people (country or continent men) in Russia. You will always need them.
Foreign students in Russia, in a video interview, shared their thoughts about Russian culture, people and language.
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Don’ts in Russian Culture
- Don’t leave an empty bottle of vodka on the table standing. This is not proper and unethical to the Russian people. Whenever you are done with a bottle of vodka, always roll it under the table.
- Never laugh at a drunken man on the streets of Russia. Drinking is a habit for most Russians, a hit on one is a hit on all. So, in case you are a comedian and you can make comedy acting like a drunkard, please, don’t try it in Russia.
- Don’t try to preach your faith to any Russian. Do you think your faith is better? I advise you to only share testimonies with them through stories, don’t tell them to accept your faith.
- Don’t ignore a grandmother or grandfather that needs help on the road. Helping and not arguing with older people is highly valuable in Russian culture. In addition, the act of helping ladies with anything that may suit them is a way of proving yourself as a gentleman in Russia is considered cool.
- Don’t start a political conversation on the streets of Russia. Learn how to face your business.
- Don’t wear your footwear beyond the foot mat inside a Russian apartment, they will always offer you slippers in return.
- Don’t try to get the attention of anyone you don’t know with a smile, it’s considered a mental issue. Let there be a reason to laugh before you do. Russians laugh a lot, they even laugh at the cheapest of all jokes, but only when they are in the right circle of people to laugh with.