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Cultural Differences in Russia

Autor:   •  August 15, 2017  •  1,674 Words (7 Pages)  •  379 Views

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Most Russian families own dachas which are seasonal second homes located in the exurbs of Russian cities. They were initially intended only as recreation getaways of city dwellers and for the purpose of growing small gardens for food. Today they are used for fishing, hunting, and other leisure activities. Growing garden crops remains popular, still seen as an important part of dacha life. Also many Russians produce self-distilled alcoholic beverages called samogon. Samagon is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the country and competes with Vodka which is more expensive and contains fewer impurities.

The probably most common leisure activity for men is fishing at lakesides. Occasionally they even spend the night there camping. Usually the fishing activity is accompanied with eating salo and drinking Vodka. Middle and higher class also like to go hunting. Additionally, they seem to be obsessed with collecting mushrooms; they even get up at 4 AM and drive to distant woods just to be quicker than other people.

Young people gather to sing songs in parks and around bonfires to have a good laugh together. Russia has a rather feminine society (also according to Hofstedte) and Russian women are prized for their femininity and homemaking skills. I observed that Russian women are not as emancipated and as career-oriented as Austrian women. Couples in Russia marry statistically 5 years earlier than Austrians; the divorce rate is high in both countries.

Superstition and customs are part of everyday life in Russia. For example talking about future success is considered bad luck. Additionally, if a black cat crosses your path, it means that there will be misfortune. People will often avoid crossing the place where the cat crossed, or will at least wait for someone else to cross it first. Moreover, I observed that Russians are more religious than Austrians and they attend messes on Sundays.

Most Russians live in big apartment blocks and the rent depends on how many people live in the apartment whereas in Austria this is irrelevant. The medical system is not as developed as in Austria and the life expectancy (especially for men) is considerably lower. This can also be partly attributed to the high alcohol consumption of men (the life expectancy for men is 64 years).

In big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg people seem to be in a rush all the time; they are not as gemütlich and laidback as Austrians. Another difference between the Russian and Austrian culture is that in Russia relationships between people tend to be much more formal. It is not rare that even cousins and relatives are on a ‘last name term’ = per Sie. It takes a lot longer until people start addressing to each other in more informal ways. Despite this formality Russians place great importance on their extended families. All members of the family gather a couple of times per year and celebrate together. In Austria relatives sometimes not even contact each other whereas in Russia such relationships are much closer. Celebrations in general are important to Russians and people gather for dinners.

The stereotype that Russians attach value to status symbols to show their rank in society is true. They tend to flaunt with expensive cars, jewelry and fancy dinners. Society in Russia is very hierarchically structured and the difference between rich and poor people is a lot greater than in Austria. According to Hofstedte Russia is a country were Power Distance is very high and the huge discrepancy between the less and the more powerful people leads to a great importance of status symbols.

Lastly, even though it is not a cultural shock, the preconceptions about Russian people as a whole are very wrong. Russian friends are some of the best friends I have ever had. But I have to say that good relationships take longer to develop than in Austria. People will respect you if you attempt to speak their difficult language, as they understand themselves that Russian is not a simple language. Also, people are very proud of their culture and heritage and know the history of their country in detail. I met many people who are interested in culture, literature and classical music which proves to me that Russian people are well-educated. I am very interested in the Russian culture and plan to work in Russia after graduation in order to perfect my Russian and form business ties with Russian businessmen.

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