Table of contents:
- Charlie Forray, USA
- Gada Shaikon, UAE
- Hampus Töttrup, Sweden
- Gaia Pometto, Italy
- Penny Fang, Hong Kong (China)
- Maya Koyanitz, Italy
- Edith Permen, Sweden
- Andrea Romani, Italy
Video: What foreigners think of Russia
2023 Author: Seth Attwood | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 22:42
According to well-established stereotypes, Russia is represented abroad as a huge country with bears, vodka and endless winter. Scriptwriters of Hollywood blockbusters to this day use uncomplicated images from the era of the USSR. Russians are portrayed as sullen gangsters or impenetrable KGB / FSB agents who avoid expressions of affection and are prone to drinking.
Has the image of Russia and Russians changed in the minds of ordinary people who draw information not only from cinema? Lenta.ru asked young foreigners what they think about us and our country in order to understand how much these ideas have changed since the time of the Iron Curtain.
Charlie Forray, USA
Like most Americans, I view the world with an innate optimism. It is also influenced by the fact that I was born a healthy white male with access to education. All of these factors have enabled me to attend college abroad. I chose Russia.
Everything is harsher in Russia than in the United States. In Russian culture, there is some kind of anxiety and skepticism, a doubt that the world was created in order to help you achieve success. Observing and communicating with the Russians, I noticed that they did not take anything for granted. And that doubt gave them a tremendous ability to adapt. When it comes to achieving heights and improving the quality of their lives, Russians show incredible resilience and strength.
Overcoming all these ordeals, from the frosty climate to several world wars, has developed a special strength of character among the Russians. It seems that the pressure and stress of the surrounding reality increases the value of communication with loved ones, their work and experiences.
Those who literally manage to pull themselves out of difficulties by the hair often speak several languages, choose their words carefully and laugh out loud. These tools help them withstand the harsh reality. These are the strengths of young Russians that I have encountered. I noticed their willpower and willingness to demonstrate their reliability before asking for anything. I also realized that the weight they carry on their shoulders is one of the causes of alcoholism: they drink to relieve the burden.
The Russians I have met want to see the world, but then return to themselves to improve the state of affairs at home. Young people in Russia imagine life as a ladder, which you need to climb without outside help, knowing how many people have already fallen from it before you.
Gada Shaikon, UAE
I am from Egypt, but now I live in Dubai. The UAE is a multinational country, and it turns out that I have friends from almost all over the planet. Back in my student years, I came across girls from Russia, they seemed to me not very friendly and even shy. But over time, they opened up from a completely different side - they turned out to be attentive and sympathetic, we could easily find a common language.
My initial ideas about Russians were the same as what they are portrayed in Hollywood films: rude and uncouth, all the time looking for profit and booze. But in reality, I encountered completely different people: smart, generous and hardworking, very attached to the family. I have a rather superficial idea of Russian culture, but I can say with confidence that it has something to fascinate. First of all, I like your cuisine: I really like dumplings and borscht. I hope someday I will have the opportunity to expand my knowledge of Russia by visiting it.
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Hampus Töttrup, Sweden
I entered the RUDN University to study Russian for several months. I remember someone from the selection committee and asked with surprise: “Are you a Swede? What are you doing here? I didn't answer anything, but the question haunted me. My girlfriend is Russian, she taught me to stand in lines and introduced me to the Russian bureaucracy.
Before going down the metro for the first time, I heard a lot about him - about marble, rich decoration, mosaics and sculptures. But what struck me most of all was that Muscovites sleep in the subway. At first glance, it’s amazing how they do it in such a buzz. After a while, I relaxed myself and began to doze on the way.
I know firsthand what Russian power is. I managed to get to know her on a suburban bus outside the Moscow Ring Road. Two drunk guys came in with bottles in their hands. In Sweden, in the worst case scenario, they would be told: "Quiet, guys." And then the passengers took them by the scruffs and dragged them out of the bus without any further ado.
Gaia Pometto, Italy
I graduated from the university with a bachelor's degree, studied Russian. But my direct experience of studying the country is limited to a three-day trip to St. Petersburg. Of course, for such a short period of time, I did not have the opportunity to get in touch with the locals, but I managed to appreciate the magnificent architecture of the city.
By the way, Peter reminds me of Rome in some way: large squares, many churches. But I met a lot of Russians and Russian-speaking people in my homeland, in Italy. It is noteworthy that all Russian speakers here - Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Estonians, Moldovans - usually stick together and get along with each other. I believe this is due to a common historical background. I observed something similar among South American students, so I don’t think that this is some kind of special feature of the Russians.
As for stereotypes about Russians, everything I was told in Italy turned out to be untrue. I expected to meet people cold and silent, prone to suspicion. At the same time, the Russians who I met were all friendly and cheerful. Italians seem to confuse Scandinavian and Slavic temperaments. Although about the Scandinavians, I would not say that they are cold and gloomy. There are more than five Russians among my acquaintances.
It should be noted that due to the difference in cultures, communication only becomes more interesting. Yet this difference is not so great as not to understand each other. My Russian teacher once said: "You cannot understand Russia until you love it." Although I am a big fan of Russian literature, and your country is so vast and diverse that you can spend years discovering it, I never fully followed his advice. This is probably because of the language. Too difficult.
Penny Fang, Hong Kong (China)
In Hong Kong, little is known about Russians. With the spread of the Internet, videos about crazy Russians who do absolutely unthinkable things have become very popular in our country - for example, they climb to the tops of skyscrapers without insurance. I work as a Russian-speaking guide and I come across Russians almost every day.
According to my observations, the Russians have a lot in common with the Chinese from the north. They are very emotional: five minutes ago they ran into a fight, and now you are drinking together. Russians don't bother with details. Here's a simple example: Hong Kong is located quite far from Moscow, and, say, I, going on such a trip, would be well prepared for the trip. But with the Russians, everything happens differently - they "seize the moment." Fancy going to the beach on a rainy day? Only on the way. A Chinese person will think about all the consequences three times before doing something.
When you meet a Russian on the street, he usually has such an expression as if he is going to kill. Such a combination of composure and strength. Russians leave the impression of very harsh people, because they do not smile - neither men nor women. Russians always have a poker face. Russian girls are very beautiful, but this is such an icy beauty. Familiar guys from Russia explain this by the fact that you have such a climate.
Maya Koyanitz, Italy
I studied Russian in evening school for almost three years. The choice fell by chance, without much motivation. The trips to the country increased my enthusiasm somewhat. Twice I went to St. Petersburg for purely tourist purposes: I ate dumplings, pancakes, went to the ballet. Initially, it seemed to me that talking about the Russians drinking a lot was nothing more than an established stereotype.
But here I was convinced of the opposite. The professor from the university who called me to his place once got drunk to such an extent that the situation began to get out of control, and I had to run away from him right in the middle of the night. Now I have been in Moscow for a month. To be honest, I don't feel safe here at night. Although I like the city itself. People are very helpful and always ready to help. But there is an exception - grandmothers in the metro and museums, real evil in the flesh.
Edith Permen, Sweden
I lived in Russia for six months when I worked for an organization working on women's rights. Even before moving, I was fascinated by the history of your country. Stereotypes about Russia and Russians are widespread throughout the world, it was curious to check if all this is true. When I first arrived, in general, everything here was not much different from my life in Stockholm. The impression that people made on the streets is far from the most pleasant: everyone walks gloomy, just like in Stockholm. Although then I noticed how dramatically the tone of strangers changes when you ask them for help - anything from asking for directions to choosing a pain reliever at the pharmacy.
As I already wrote, my work is related to the rights of women. It was new to me how strong traditional gender roles were in Russia. It took me a while to get used to the fact that men treat me in a certain way just because I am a woman. Russian women are incredibly strong - probably stronger than any other woman in the world I have met. They carry a lot on their shoulders.
Perhaps this is due to the intense pressure they have faced since childhood. But no matter how heavy the female share in the country is, 14 thousand women killed by men every year is an exorbitant number. Men drink a lot, and this is the cause of violence on the one hand and early deaths on the other. Despite this, the Russian culture and friendliness amazed me, and I have many friends here.
Andrea Romani, Italy
I'm comfortable with the Russians. Of course, they are not ideal colleagues, because they often adhere to too rigid and ineffective work standards. They almost never manage to put themselves in the shoes of a foreigner and start thinking in a European way. The exception is those who lived and worked in Europe.
It takes several months to adapt to the rhythm of work in Russia, to bureaucracy and inertia. This is not the case in European countries. It takes time for the situation to change - young people born after 1985 are well aware of this.
You get either all or nothing from communicating with Russians. They are unfriendly, in a special way reserved, the first impression of them is very heavy. You go into the store - they don't say hello to you, you go out - they don't thank you, they don't hold the doors to the subway. But one has only to find the right crack in this "armor", the Russian people suddenly reincarnate. And now you are going to visit them, to the dacha, to the bathhouse, where they treat you with homemade food, introduce you to your relatives. At such moments, it begins to seem that you have known them all your life.
Ambassadors from other countries invited to the feast found themselves in an atmosphere, to put it mildly, exotic for them. And tradition, and the variety of cuisine they were sometimes put into a stupor. The fact that the taste preferences of representatives of different peoples differ, led to a reluctance to try some Russian dishes
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