Summary: every culture is different, and has its good and bad parts. Some good things about Russians are: cleanliness, staying warm in winter, creativity, hospitality and good food.
Not long ago I made a video in Russian about 5 Russian habits Dutch people could use in their lives.
It got over 300.000 views in a couple of months, and I decided to do the English version here.
You’ll probably like it, as most people who learn Russian are also interested in the Russian culture 🙂
Take off your shoes in the house
If you enter a Russian house, the host will 99% of the time ask you to take your shoes off. You can then look for some slippers (тапки), to wear while walking inside the house.
It’s a nice thing, that I also started doing while at home. Before, I’d always just walk around in my shoes through the house. Unless I’d have no plans anymore to leave the house that day.
But now that I’m living with my Russian girlfriend already for a couple years in the Netherlands, I always take them off. And wear some warm winter slippers if it’s cold.
One of the reasons why Russian people take their shoes off, is because especially in winter, the mix between melted snow and dirt, changes everything into a mud bath wherever you go. So people obviously don’t want that in their houses.
But Russian people in general care more about the cleanliness of their house compared to most western people.
Turn up the heat in winter
Russia gets cold in winter. And did you know that in most soviet high rise buildings, people cannot regulate the temperature in their own home?
Nowadays in newer apartment buildings this is changing, but in many older ones, there is only state heating.
Which means that in winter the apartments can get over 23 degrees celsius. That’s hot.
If it’s above 20, I start having trouble sleeping, cause it’s too hot.
But during the day it’s nice. You enter a house from the minus 15 outside, and you can walk around in t shirt and shorts.
Good soups and salads
If you ask for a soup or salad here in the Netherlands, you either get a watery bouillon or a couple of pieces of lettuce with tomato and cucumber.
While that may be good for those looking to lose weight, I need a lot of calories.
That’s why I love the soups and salads in Russia. If you ask for a soup, you can get a meal. If you ask for a salad, you can get a salad that has more calories and taste, then most western full meals.
For example, I’m talking about dishes like:
- селедка под шубой
- салат оливье
If you like to have tasty soups and salads, you’ll love the Russian cuisine.
Another thing that you’ll notice is how hospitable Russian people are. If you go visit someone, they’ll lay the complete table for you, and let you choose between many different types of drinks.
They always do their best to make sure you don’t lack anything.
And I find this a nice perspective from my own culture. If you go somewhere as a guest in Holland, most of the time you’ll get a coffee and a cookie. While I like the simplicity of this, it’s also nice to see people put effort when they receive guests.
And we also started doing this more now, when we receive guests here in Holland.
Creative thinking (русская смекалка)
You’ve probably seen the videos online of Russian people thinking up weird constructions for a simple problem.
I really like that in Russian people. Many people accept the rules, and don’t have any bad intentions, but they still like to be creative around rules.
Whereas here at home, much people don’t put any time into creatively thinking up a solution if they encounter a problem, and then later complain about it.
Hope you liked this article 🙂
P.S. If you want to improve your Russian on 'autopilot', my best recommendation is to just listen to 1 single Russianpod101 podcast per day (about 15 minutes). Ideally you do this when commuting to work to create a lasting habit. You can also take a daily walk. I did this for about 6 months, and it's the reason my Russian improved so quickly. There's a free 7 day trial with just an email address, so you're not risking anything. Give it a try and see how fast your Russian skills improve.