Russian habits and things that surprise foreigners – Part 2

In my previous article I told you about the top 7 Russian habits and things that surprise foreigners. But since there are much more of them, today I offer you a list of another seven.

Russian habits and things that surprise foreigners – Part 2

1. 24-hour flower shops

Working all day and all night flower shops surprise almost every foreigner. It is unclear for many why the flower shop owners prefer to keep them open at night when everyone is sleeping but it has many benefits for the customers. First, you can easily please your loved ones with a bouquet at any time of the day or night. Second, if you received an unexpected invitation in the late evening, a bouquet of flowers would be a nice gift (Russians don’t usually come to visit with empty hands).

In addition, if you had a fight with your wife or girlfriend late at night, you can go to a flower shop and buy a bouquet of flowers which will be a step towards reconciliation. Simply put, 24-hour flower shops are very practical.

2. The abundance of animals in the apartment

Russians love animals very much, especially dogs and cats. Many foreigners wonder how it is possible that in a small apartment, where a family of 3 to 5 people live, there is also a big dog or/and several cats. By the way, did you know that Russians are the greatest lovers of cats? According to statistics, 80% of Russian families have one or two cats, and this is the largest figure in the world. It should be noted that lately Russians are also interested in exotic animals, and some of them keep snakes, lizards and even small crocodiles at home!

3. Higher education

In the Soviet Union, everyone knew a line from the children’s poem “All professions are important, all professions are needed”. The statement is very logical and correct. However, this past few years in Russia, this wisdom went to the background, and most people tend to get a higher education. Strange but fact, higher education is considered a symbol of erudition and personal culture, while according to the opinions of many Russians people with a specific professional education do not have these characteristics. Foreigners who have close relations with Russians or live in Russia are surprised by this tendency and do not understand this snobbery.

4. Fixed-route taxi

Fixed-route taxi is the most amazing transport on the road. A fixed-route taxi is a minibus for 15-20 people which thanks to its maneuverability spends less time on the trip. You ask what is surprising? Many foreigners who tried the fixed-route taxi do not understand the trustful attitude of Russians towards each other, when people pass the fare to the driver from the end of the minibus through other people. Even more surprising is when the person receives his change and the ticket back. “You are transferring your money to strangers and are not afraid that someone will take it!”, say foreign tourists.

Fixed-route taxi
Fixed-route taxi. Source: Wikipedia.

5. Festive table

Russian feasts are always striking in their abundance. One of my students who happened to celebrate the New Year holidays in a Russian host family was wondering: “I don’t understand why people cook much more food than there are guests. When the holiday was over, there was still enough food for three days”. The explanation to this is very simple – Russians are very hospitable and want every guest to feel the love and respect of the hosts. Besides, it’s so nice to wake up in the morning and know that the fridge is full of delicious festive food!

6. Car DVRs

You’ve probably seen on Youtube hundreds of videos recorded on car DVRs, and many of you wonder why Russians use them so widely. I often read negative comments about DVRs the main idea of ​​which is that DVRs interfere with the privacy of others as they record other people’s cars and people passing by. But the purpose of the DVR is quite different: when an accident occurs with the help of these videos it is possible to quickly and easily identify the cause of the accident, this reduces the time for the proceedings, and this in turn means that inspectors and road services work faster therefore are able to respond to more calls. It becomes especially handy in winter, when the weather conditions deteriorate and the number of accidents on the roads increases.

Recorder with radar detector in the car
Recorder with radar detector in the car. Source: Wikipedia.

7. Wallpapers

While people all over the world prefer painting their walls or even use natural materials such as wood or stone to decorate the interior of their house or apartment, Russians are still actively using wallpapers. Even more surprising is the use of photo wallpapers such as views of beaches, deserts or flowers. One day, a friend of mine who went to visit his Russian girlfriend shared with me his surprising experience in the apartment he visited: he saw five different types of wallpapers and was shocked by the 3D photo wallpaper in the apartment hallway.

Now you know more about Russian lifestyle and Russian habits. What surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Aleksandra Shilovskaia

Culturologist, professor of Russian as a foreign language and promoter of Russian culture.

Aleksandra gives Russian lessons via Skype.

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