Russia is undoubtedly a very peculiar country and it is hard for unprepared person to understand all the customs and traditions that he’ll inevitably run into, during his visit. So what should and what shouldn’t you do, while visiting someone in Russia?
First of all – you would not want to stand out from the crowd. In order to merge with the crowd don’t look people directly in the eyes, unless you’re spoken to. In this case the direct eye contact is necessary, otherwise the person you’re talking to will consider that you’re hiding something or your intentions are not that clear. Forget about smiling. In Russia people don’t smile on the streets. Even if you’re friendly and want to cheer people up – don’t do it.
In Russia there is a saying: “Laughter without a reason is a sign of stupidity” and you would not want to seem stupid in Russia, as you will be immediately scammed out of your money. If you don’t know the language, it is better to show what you want to buy, instead of saying it in English. Thus, people will just think that you are local, but mute and will provide products without trying to rip you off.
The hardest part is getting a taxi – if you take one at the airport prepare to pay twice as much as they usually ask. Therefore it is better to call taxi to the airport from one of the local taxi services. They have fixed rates and will not attempt to ask you to pay more that you should. Generally speaking, if you’re being met by a woman – she’ll take care of that, she will call a cab and explain where you’re staying.
If you are lucky and the relationship with a woman is strong, she will probably offer you to stay at her place. And here you need to know a couple of vital things. First of all, when meeting or being presented to a man – shake his hand as firmly as you can. It’s weird but Russian like to judge manliness of the man by his hand shake grip. However, if you are meeting a woman you can either shake her hand, but gently, or kiss her hand – this will immediately make you look as a sophisticated gentleman, Russian men very rarely do that, in spite of the fact that women love their hands being kissed as a token of respect.
Remember that you should shake hands inside the apartment, not in the hall. As soon as you enter the apartment and shake hand – don’t forget to remove your shoes and put on slippers that you’ll be offered. After that you will be asked to sit at the table for a full dinner, or for tea with sweets. Nevertheless, the higher chance is that a great dinner will be made in your honor.
Russian food may seem a bit weird, but you can be sure that it is thoroughly cooked, so you can taste at least a bit of everything, otherwise the hostess will be offended. Remember not to eat until you are told so, maybe there must come other people you don’t know anything about. In such case you’ll need to wait with everyone else. After you’re invited to it – go nuts, in Russia the more the man eats – the stronger man he is.
Talking about dining in Russian family – one cannot disregard drinking vodka. That’s the most important part. You should drink at least two or three glasses of vodka, before you say you can’t drink anymore, which you will inevitably say, as Russians can drink about half a liter of vodka without getting drunk, even women and most of the westerns can’t. Try to be friendly and manly and you will succeed.
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