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  • Foreigners' impressions of Russia

    We've been discussing a lot of official things here but some basic level knowledge about the country would be quite helpful to those who consider international affairs.

    It should be taken with a pinch of salt, of course, as not everything is all that rosy here. Still, judging by my vast experience , I believe the quotes are all authentic. They only chose the positive ones and they match the positive feedback I normally get from the independent travelers.

    http://rt.com/prime-time/2009-10-09/...rs-russia.html

    Hall, who took advantage of his sudden unemployment to “grab his backpack and hike Europe,” admits that his perceptions of Russia were totally misguided.

    “I can see now that our media has a very single-minded way of presenting this part of the world to audiences back home,” Hall told me over beers at the American Bar & Grill in the center of Moscow. “I actually loaded up on canned food and water before I departed from Paris,” Hall admitted with a laugh, “because I thought I would have problems finding stuff here.”
    www.histours.ru

    Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

  • #2
    “I can see now that our media has a very single-minded way of presenting this part of the world to audiences back home,” Hall told me over beers at the American Bar & Grill in the center of Moscow. “I actually loaded up on canned food and water before I departed from Paris,” Hall admitted with a laugh, “because I thought I would have problems finding stuff here.”
    Starlite Diner!

    link

    One of the few things I like about that ridiculous city.

    I will be typing up a post regarding my experiences as an American expat living in Russia, I will, much to Erikki's horror, include the bad as well as the good.
    Кто там?
    Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
    Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post

      I will be typing up a post regarding my experiences as an American expat living in Russia, I will, much to Erikki's horror, include the bad as well as the good.


      Well what can you tell me apart from that the custom service is a bunch of fanatics without anybody speaking English, the postal service isn´t to be trusted and all kind off stupid laws like that you need a special permission to take out item over a certain age. The police are corrupt, neo nazis are running around and it isn´t a good idea for a foreigner to walk around on the VDV day. And that is just what comes out at first though.

      It isn´t like I am some neo-nazi and we are talking about the moron Hitler here

      Or anything like "russian-victories"
      Last edited by Erkki; 14 Jan 10, 15:05.
      “For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy.”

      Max Sterner

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Erkki View Post
        it isn´t a good idea for a foreigner to walk around on the VDV day
        Frankly, it's not such a good idea for a Russian either In fact, while they are a danger factor, you can only get into trouble if you start picking on them or behave in an offensive fashion. Well, this is what Darwin awards are for
        www.histours.ru

        Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ShAA View Post
          Frankly, it's not such a good idea for a Russian either In fact, while they are a danger factor, you can only get into trouble if you start picking on them or behave in an offensive fashion. Well, this is what Darwin awards are for
          Ah yes, they are a danger for themselves too, the bottle trick for example
          “For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy.”

          Max Sterner

          Comment


          • #6
            Reading a lot of travel forums, and just talking to people about going to Russia, other than the usual vodka, bears, matryoshka, balalaika, dancing while wearing clothes from 1885 cliched stereotypes common thoughts seem to be"

            1. Corrupt police seek out everyone and strong arm them for bribes.

            2. Mafia shootouts occur on the streets on an hourly basis.

            3. All Russian women want to marry a man from the USA, 45 year old bald, fat, smelly guys can easily marry the most attractive 19 y/o devushka in Russia by showing off a blue passport.

            4. Technologically people are stuck in the 1970s, nobody has their own computer or home internet access.

            5. Skinheads are on every street corner looking for and killing every middle Asian or African the see.

            These are the most common things I seem to read, so I will address them.

            1. There is police corruption, it is just a fact of life. However personally I have never been a victim of this - there is nothing to fear if you are following rules. A cop isn't really going to go out of his way to harass you for nothing. And if you are an American and you can make it clear you don't understand him, he isn't going to try to shake you down. Does this happen to people? Sure, but like in any country - don't break obvious rules and you won't be bothered, unless of course you happen to fit a certain profile...

            2. Some people seem to think that movie "брат" (Brother) is the way things are. There are definitely organized crime groups, but if you aren't involved in that world, the likelihood of the average person running across problems from it is nearly nil.

            3. This is truly hilarious. I guess back in the 90's to a certain extent this happened - though not as widespread as it is made out to be. The fact that I am marrying a Russian woman (not by any mail order bride BS mind you) made us inadvertently come into contact with this ridiculous industry that has popped up from it. Now that Russia has emerged from the 90s the amount of flight from Russia has dropped off, but this stereotype continues. I one time accidentally ran across a "party" for a group of American men looking to meet and marry Russian women (Sasha - this was at the Hotel Marco Polo - great bar in the basement) it was pretty sad really 20-30 lonely fat guys in their 40s trying to socilaize (through translators) to maybe the same number of young devushkas (probably from villages) I had to leave. Fortunately there are not really a large number of women looking to do something like this. And for the most part it seems this Industry has shifted to Ukraine.

            4. This is a funny one. So many people seem to think nobody has computers or mobile phones. Any bus or metro is full of people checking their vkontakte.ru page on their Iphone.

            5. Skinheads do exist, and they are dangerous to people they consider enemies. I have seen plenty of them in SPb and Moscow as well as their graffiti everywhere. They do kill people, but more often than not they do this in their neighborhoods, or at places like concerts, it is not like they are storming down Nevsky Prospekt killing every Nigerian or Uzbek they see.

            These are the main things I hear about, now some observations I have made:

            Service in Restaurants/Cafes etc. is a crap shoot on quality. Sometimes it is better than I have ever seen in the United States, sometimes there is a lot to be desired. If the service is bad - there is nothing you can expect to do about it, you just have to accept it.

            The bureaucracy is just awful. It is American bureaucracy x100. Everything rests on getting whatever stamp you need. In my experience in 2 places OVIR and the Wedding Palace, the standards of what paperwork you need to get a certain stamp depends on the person working at the time. I can say this is true in other places as well, as my fiancee works as a customs broker. She brings the same form filled out 4 different ways so it is filled out correctly for whatever person might be helping her at Customs. It is like this there because oddly enough Russia has 4 or 5 different laws on the books for imported goods clearing customs that DIRECTLY CONTRADICT each other, so technically each person is following the law, they just get to choose what law they follow.

            I love the Public Transportation in Saint Petersburg, it is probably the best I have ever used. There is nowhere you can not get - and you never have to wait long. Only complaints are that you can just ignore the bus timetable at stops as it is never correct and I wish it would run a little later, on weekends at least.

            I will continue this in a bit as I have to go and eat some dinner.
            Кто там?
            Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
            Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

            Comment


            • #7
              Just great, Josh!

              But point 4 - what the heck? For some time I thought that such stereotypes had the wither away with hordes of tourists and exchange students coming here. But so many years have passed since 1991 and it's all the same. Ok, speaking of other points, one can come and just see everything through his bias filter and later he can say: "Haven't seen this but there must be a lot of it", but you just can't fail to notice all the technology. Oh well, next time get to work with my tourists I'll take an abacus so that they wouldn't feel out of place
              www.histours.ru

              Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeah, I never understood it, but these people are probably thinking Russians still have to wait in line for 2 loaves of bread at the street market, and have to bribe people to get toilet paper.

                Some more impressions:

                Including having it in Japan, I never thought the best sushi I would ever eat would be on 7 Line in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. And from noon to 5 you get 2 of everything you order for the price of 1! In fact it seems the Russian youth have become a bit obsessed with Japanese culture this Anime and Manga stuff is everywhere and it is not uncommon to see teenage girls (and some boys ) wearing cat ears.

                Bus/trolley bus conductors are always female and over 40.

                The best job in the world is metro escalator operator.

                I could go on but I need a more clear head.
                Кто там?
                Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                  nobody has their own computer or home internet access
                  is this true that the Westerners can believe stuff like that?...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by stalin View Post
                    is this true that the Westerners can believe stuff like that?...
                    Not most, but there is a loud ignorant minority. This mid 30's guy at a bookstore in Boston a couple weeks ago asked my fiancee if she lived in "The Soviet Union"

                    Don't worry though, there are plenty of baseless ignorant stereotypes some Russians have about the USA too!
                    Кто там?
                    Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                    Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                      there are plenty of baseless ignorant stereotypes some Russians have about the USA too!
                      - which ones for example ?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by stalin View Post
                        - which ones for example ?
                        Off the top of my head? Many things that come from movies/TV. That stuff isn't real, for the most part people don't act like characters do, yet a lot of Russians seem to think America is jsut like in the movies.

                        Have you seen that documentary where the Russians retrace the trip some Soviets made in the 1930s across America? I'd say even that only got it about 50% right.

                        On major thing our movies and TV shows seem to do is give a false sense of demographics. Before her first trip to the USA my fiancee actually thought that the population of the USA was about even in racial makeup between black and white. This is due to the recent push for 'diversity' to be shown. As Americans we know the demographics are a bit skewed, but to the foreigner watching it, I can see how this misconception can occur.

                        I have even still run into the old cowboy stereotype a time or two.

                        There is the "all Americans are stupid" stereotype too that comes from edited videos of people asking stupid people easy questions on the street and them answering them incorrectly - or from shown clips of some entertainment based game show where people act dumb, and pretend to be outsmarted by kids answering trivia questions, until the end where in dramatic fashion the 'contestant' wins. We know this is entertainment, but people that don't understand out culture think it is reality.

                        There is always stuff like, maybe there will be some snow in Atanta where it never snows, a few centimeters of snow gets on the ground, and due to a lack of snow removal equipment and lack of experience of southerners driving in these conditions school and work are canceled a lot. Instead of - people who have little to now experience with snow have trouble driving in it, it gets plastered all over the RUNET "Stupid Americans can't drive in snow"

                        Another good one is that most Americans fear/worry/care about Russia or see them as an enemy. This is simply not true. Most Americans (though not the type that frequent this forum) don't even think anything about Russia or care about it. For instance several months ago, I think there was a Russian submarine spotted near America. Basically it gets a 1 paragraph write up or maybe scrolls across the bottom of a cable news network program. 90% of Americans could care less. In Russian papers, and all over the Russian internet I read about how America was in a panic because there were Russian submarines off the coast of Washington DC. Nope, sorry nobody cared.

                        I can probably think of a lot more if I take my time and really think.
                        Кто там?
                        Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                        Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                          a lot of Russians seem to think America is jsut like in the movies
                          well, blame Hollywood for that ...but what's wrong with it?

                          Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                          There is the "all Americans are stupid" stereotype too
                          'narrow-minded' , not stupid; see the difference?

                          Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                          all over the Russian internet I read about how America was in a panic because there were Russian submarines off the coast of Washington DC
                          - the BBC and CNN spread panic like that , not russian media.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by stalin View Post
                            - which ones for example ?
                            A look at your post history should bring almost all of them up.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by stalin View Post
                              well, blame Hollywood for that ...but what's wrong with it?

                              'narrow-minded' , not stupid; see the difference?

                              - the BBC and CNN spread panic like that , not russian media.
                              Dude - you asked what stereotypes Russians have about the USA that aren't exactly correct. It wasn't a slight on anyone for believing them, I also think I did a pretty decent job explaining why it is possible that they happen.

                              It seems you are taking offense, and trying to come up with excuses, put blame. No need for that. This thread doesn't need to turn into a bunch of "we're better than you" arguments that will surely pop up (mostly from people that haven't even been to both countries I'm sure) I'm not going to argue with you - Westerners believes outlandish things about Russia, Russians believe outlandish things about the USA - it happens.
                              Кто там?
                              Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                              Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

                              Comment

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