American Megan Case in 2004 year moved to Russia, where she lived for several years, even studied at St. Petersburg State University. To talk about her impressions and reflections, Megan started a LiveJournal blog in Russian and called it “American, unfortunately,” writes bigpicture.ru. Now the blog is already closed and has not been replenished for several years, but the archival history has remained.
Some time ago I arranged an interview in a blog, and many Americans asked me: “Is there something in Russia that you like more than in the USA?”. I have broken my answers into several categories, and the current category is food.
Ask an American who has never been to Russia what comes to his head when he thinks about Russian food, and he will definitely say something about cabbage, strange meat and vodka. Russians do amazing things with dairy products, various soups, and especially with mushrooms. There is a huge amount of bakery products intended for tea drinking. And here is a list of dishes that I really love: pancakes, hodgepodge, porridge, kefir.
Well, this is what I particularly liked in St. Petersburg. This is a special urban phenomenon in Russia: 24-hour stores. There you can buy everything you need around the clock: food, alcohol, household chemicals. In the US, this possibility is only in very large cities or at gas stations. And you are lucky if you find a bag of milk or bananas there.
Here, near every metro station there is at least one non-stop grocery store that sells groceries, not fast food. So if in the middle of the night you are on your way home from the club and you need eggs in the morning, you can buy them. In St. Petersburg there are even bookstores that are open 24 hours a day.
Lack of puritanism
Last week I was tanned. My American friends who think that Russia is a wasteland covered with ice all year round will be surprised to hear that you can get a tan in northern Russia. Visit any park on any day of the week in the summer, and you will be surrounded by almost naked sunbathers. I feel rather awkward lying on a bedspread in swimming trunks in a city park in the USA, but here it doesn’t bother anyone. And frankly, it's great. This lack of puritanism has other positive implications.
Russian women's fashion, for example ... hmm, is provocative by American standards, and this manner, as a rule, bothers me, because I felt that it was necessary, or 1) to treat with contempt young women, or 2) to wear clothes that I did not like and in which I do not feel comfortable.
But I put up with it and saw the advantages that women dress frankly. Russian men are so used to seeing such women that they are satiated with it, and therefore there are not so many sexual harassment on the street. At least, compared with Washington, DC, where a freely dressed woman to fifty years old can provoke the rudeness of others.
I have never written another issue of my series “What I like in Russia” for so long, mainly due to the fact that I have been living in Sweden since August and spent a lot of time here, happy to find out how Sweden differs from Russia . But now 9 is exactly: 30 evenings, New Year's Eve - I hold a glass of wine in my hand, I am going to meet friends to drink champagne in the town square, and I must say that I miss the wide Russian (New Year) soul.
New Year in Russia is a super holiday. When the Communists canceled the celebration of Christmas, all Christmas traditions passed to the New Year: Christmas tree, decorations, an old man with a beard, distributing gifts, chocolate, obzhiralovka ... In addition, the Russian New Year has elements of the West: having fun after midnight, get drunk, give or take promises, kiss strangers at the meeting. In the US, as a rule, New Year's Eve is disappointing. Students at universities and colleges spend the New Year at home with their parents while watching a Dick Clark show. When I was already behind 20, I had a few strange, random celebrations of the New Year, when until the last minute you could not decide what you would do.
On the subject: Married in America: Peculiarities of the National Diet
This outrageous story that I found on the BitchPhD website reminded one thing that I really like in Russia: many medicines that can be obtained in the US by prescription only (in Sweden, however, you also cannot buy aspirin outside the state pharmaceutical monopoly), can be purchased at most Russian pharmacies.
From the point of view of public health, this may be a bad idea, but personally for those who are confident enough in their competence about the choice of drugs for themselves, this is very convenient.
Many foreigners know the Russian word "cottage". True, it is associated with an expensive home in the country for the state elite. This concept is rooted in the United States due to the fact that only the very rich own more than one dwelling.
Imagine country houses in Hampton and the like. Spending a weekend, a week, a month or the whole summer in a country house is an important part of Russian culture. I read that more than 50 percent of Petersburgers leave the city for a part of the summer. Back at work this week, my colleagues and I discussed what we did this summer. Several people traveled, but most said: “Oh, I went to the country” - with a dreamy, satisfied smile and a healthy blush.
An ordinary person can ...
Skating (figure skating), singing in front of other people, even if he is not a rock musician ... Enjoying opera and ballet ... These things are terrified by average Americans because they are afraid to look effeminate.
It cannot be said that heterosexual men in the United States do not do this, but their sexual orientation may be in doubt. And the boys who do these things can get it for school. Which is very sad. This is one of the factors that I like in Russia, so I’ll just say that it’s great when people can have a wider range of interests than just sports.