You've probably heard a lot of "facts", myths
and stereotypes about Russia. Find out which Russian "stereotypes" are actually true!
10. Russians are flashyWhen Russian people dress up, they go all-out. Sky-high heels, glittery miniskirts and fur coats on impeccably made-up girls, the latest in crisp, bright or loud men’s fashion on guys. When they’re not dressing to go out, Russian men tend to tone it down and wear quiet clothing, but Russian women keep it dialed up, always seeming as though they’ve stepped out of a fashion magazine (see below).
9. Russian clubs are very exclusive
It’s true, many Russian clubs, especially in Moscow, are designed for the very rich, with strict face-control and exorbitant “cover” fees – and that’s before you have to pay for drinks! While it is possible to find some affordable clubs
in Russia, be prepared to face high cover charges and even be turned away if you are not dressed up to the nines (see above). If you're not up for that, try going to a bar
instead, which can often be just as lively but a lot less expensive!
8. Gender roles are alive and well in RussiaMen are men and women are women in Russia... in every aspect of daily life. Men are expected to be very traditionally chivalrous, opening doors, pulling out chairs, and paying for the ladies. Women are expected to cook, clean and always look gorgeous – and not act offended when they encounter these kinds of attitudes. I’m not saying it’s easy, but that’s the way it is!
7. There’s a lot of corruption in RussiaSad, but true... if you get stopped by police for a random check in the Metro and don’t have your passport with you, or even if you’re stopped for a traffic violation, police will often offer you a choice between an official ticket (and jail time in some cases!) or paying them off, quite a large amount that increases in proportion to the severity of the crime. And that’s just one example. Any Russian bureaucrat – actually, almost any employee – can be bribed and often that’s the only way to get things done.
6. Russians are blunt and serious
Russians always have a serious face on when they’re in public
. It is considered impolite to express strong (especially loud) emotions around strangers. (Of course, this all changes in private, but that’s a different story.) Russian people are also very blunt and will not beat around the bush; they don’t tolerate small talk or niceties and much prefer to get to the point of a conversation. Except for young (Americanized) people, you will never hear Russian people exchanging “how are you?”s as they walk past each other on the street – this question is reserved for private conversations and demands an honest answer.
5. Russians are chain-smokersAlthough the Russian government is slowly starting to impose harsh anti-smoking regulations in an attempt to end the smoking epidemic gripping the country, Russia still has one of the highest smoking rates in the world. Expect second-hand smoke to be practically inescapable on Russian streets.
4. Russians are superstitiousRussian people have a lot of “superstitions” that are mostly habits – like “knock on wood” is in many cultures. Many Russians will sit down inside their house before leaving for a trip to ensure a good journey; they will consider it good luck to break a glass accidentally, and they will spit three times over their shoulder after they knock on wood. Most people don’t actually believe these things “work”, but they always – always – do them anyway.
3. Russian babushkasThe babushka, or Russian granny, is a pervasive image in Western culture, and, good news – she exists! There are a lot of older women in Russia who look exactly like stereotypical “babushkas” – small and short with scarves around their heads, ready to run you down with their wheeled shopping cart.
2. Russian women are extremely beautifulWalk down any street in any Russian city and you will see that this is absolutely true. Young Russian women are gorgeous, and they are very particular about their appearance – most Russian women will not go outside without their hair and make-up perfectly done and their outfit, shoes and accessories perfectly matching. Even in the winter, you will see many Russian women on the streets in the following outfit: short skirt, tights, heels, and a fur coat.
1. Russians love vodkaAlmost all Russians are capable of drinking vodka like water, and most of them will always have a bottle in their house whether they drink it regularly or not. If you are ever at an event of any sort organized by Russian people, there will be vodka there, and it will be offered to you! It’s not true, however, that Russians get extremely offended when you refuse a shot – it’s more that they’re surprised, because to them it’s not at all a big deal. And of course, remember that just because Russians like vodka, it does not mean that they are alcoholics – they can just drink more than most other people!