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1) As surprising as it may seem, always keep your fight face on. In most other cultures this is a
no go area, but with Russia it’s the first basic rule of survival. Nothing screams FOREIGNER!!
more than smiling and excessive manners.
2) Never, ever, EVER pretend to understand things when you don’t. Not only can this be
embarrassing, but it can hurt people’s feelings and put you in a seriously bad or awkward
3) When given food, don’t ask what it is. Nine times out of ten, you wont want to know, trust
me. And the other 10% of the time you wont have heard of it before anyway…
4) Bring sunglasses as well as a ski coat. Crazy I know, but despite the rumours Russia isn’t
snowy and cold 12 months of the year.
5) Don’t underestimate the advantages of tipping and bribery. This can quite literally get you
out of any tricky situation. And it will be expected in some.
6) Don’t judge a book by its cover. When I first arrived, before I went into the flat it felt like I
was staying in the dodgiest area ever. But that’s just Russia. Most of the time the flat on the
inside doesn’t resemble the flat on the outside in the slightest.
7) Don’t make eye contact with the police. They will want to see your documents. And if you
don’t have them with you, you will be arrested. Especially if you are male.
8) Don’t go to Russia expecting everything to be as cheap as chips. While it is true that certain
things like food and transport are remarkable cheap, other things such as clothes, shoes and
western goods are just as expensive if not more so than at home.
9) Don’t be surprised when you see every Russian woman wearing high heels. And when I say
high heels, I mean HIGH heels. It’s actually quite impressive how immaculate every single
woman looks every day.
10) Never look back! Just take each day as it comes, experience everything there is to experience!
The more you get involved, the less strange everything will see, and the quicker you will
understand how unique and cool the Russian culture is!
By Hannah Ward
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham