5 things Russians do better than us westerners

By Ari Helderman
December 27, 2021

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
  • Борщ

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 🙂

Watch this video where I tell you in Russian (with English subtitles) 9 reasons why Russian is actually easy to learn.

What should you do next?

Learning Russian does NOT need to be difficult. All you need is a solid plan that helps you improve the following things daily:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • listening skills
  • speaking skills

That's ALL you need. If you can do this for a couple of weeks, you’ll already be making great progress in your Russian skills.

And the best part? If you improve a little bit every day, soon these practices will become daily habits.

And then you will start making progress on autopilot.

This means that learning Russian is now a part of your daily routine. So you won’t even need discipline anymore to get yourself to practice.

If you like the idea of this, but don’t know where to start, go here for more information.

About the Author

My name is Ari Helderman and I help people learn Russian through videos and blog posts where I share my experience.   I have been learning Russian since 2016. I often get mistaken for a native speaker these days, so I've learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't if you want to speak Russian well.

Ari Helderman