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What do you know about Russians?

Culture Russia 2005

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#1 A Human

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 04:44 PM

Okay, I started this topic, because I am really interested in what people from different countries think about Russians.  :)  Tell me all your ideas!  :upside:


PS. But you MUST say only truth!   :wink:

#2 Kevin Street

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 04:53 PM

Hi, A Human. Welcome to Ex Isle. :)

This is an interesting thread, but it's kind of out of place in this forum. This is the Announcements, Questions, and Gripes forum where people talk about this website and how it is being run or should be run.  A better place for this thread would be the Orbus Terrarum forum where we talk about History, Politics, and Current Events. (It's not a perfect fit, but I think that's the best forum we have for this kind of subject.) So I'm going to move your thread over there...

Sorry about this.
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#3 A Human

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 05:03 PM

Okay. I didn't know where to post it... But! Let's continue! Speak!

#4 Enkanowen

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 05:19 PM

well, I know that the Russian army is barely being paid and that several nuclear submarines are rusting away on the beaches because the government barely has enough money to pay its soldiers. It is such an incredibly vast country that it is like comparing Torontonians to Maritimers to West Coasters and so fourth.

#5 A Human

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 05:30 PM

hmm.. our army.. I hate our army, because of its relations between higher officers and lower. You can be killed at the first day in the army, and they'll say : "It is an accident". And what must think our mothers? our army is rather baaaad place!

#6 Kevin Street

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 05:58 PM

I've met lots of people from Eastern Europe over the years, but none of them happened to be Russian. So I don't really know any Russians personally, and everything I think I know about them comes from books, which may or may not be true. But I can relate a personal story that involves Russians:

In my city (in Canada), we have a big party every summer (called Klondike Days), like many cities do. There's a carnival and rides and special events and stuff, and every year there's an exhibition put on by a different foreign country. It's supposed to be an event to enhance trade between our countries and all that, where the featured nation is assigned a big hall that they can fill up any way they want. Usually there's displays and product demonstrations and exhibits of things that the country wants other people to know about, like their history and achievements. It's a big show, really.

I remember one year back in... the late eighties, I can't remember exactly, when the featured country was the Soviet Union. They put on a huge show! There was a full size mock-up of a Soyuz space capsule (the crew section though, not the whole rocket), Soviet singers and dancers, a dozen or so of those Lada automobiles with a local volunteer trying to sell them to people, lots of displays showing how diverse and large the Soviet Union was, and - the thing that fascinated me the most - there was this series of model cities in glass cases, with text boxes that explained how each city would be built in the north and powered with a separate nuclear reactor. I can remember being very impressed with the way they were developing their northern regions, and wishing that our own government would do something that ambitious. The whole thing was quite elaborate and entertaining, and it gave the impression that the Soviet Union was this busy, dynamic place where they were actively trying to build a new future.

But I guess it was more show than reality, because the Soviet Union collapsed not long after that. And they never got around to building any of those cities from the glass cases.

So time goes by, and about ten or twelve years later Russia was the featured country at Klondike Days. So I went back to the hall full of curiousity about how this exhibit would be different from the old Soviet one, and it was a big disappointment. The hall was only about two-thirds full, and most of the exhibits seemed to be about industrial stuff or computers, and most of the displays were in Russian so I couldn't even read them. There was nobody around to ask questions, either. My companion got bored and wanted to leave, but I insisted on staying until I could find somebody to talk to. Finally, I found a guy at some kind of computer display, but when I tried to ask him what his display was about it was obvious that he didn't speak English. And he was drunk on something that wasn't vodka. (Because you could smell it coming off him.) Anyway, after a few minutes of effort it was apparent that neither one of us was going to understand the other, and I left.

So just going by trade shows (which aren't exactly an accurate measure of anything, I know), there seems to have been a lot of change in Russia over the last decade and a half.

#7 eloisel

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 06:40 PM

Well, I have a limited experience with Russians.  

When I was very little, I heard people talking about how Kruschev said he was going to do something to America.  I knew I lived in America and apparently Kruschev wasn't somebody very nice.  I would stand out in my yard and worry that Kruschev was going to fly over my house in a plane very similar to the one Felix the Cat made out of his Magic Bag.

In the 1980s I worked with a woman whose daughter had a Russian penpal.  Seemed they were always sending the Russian girl jeans.  I thought Russians must really like jeans.

A few years ago I met a Russian woman at some classes I was taking at night at the local university.  From my friendship with her, if she is anything like a typical Russian person, I have a very high opinion of Russian.  She is intelligent in two languages.  She is very sensitive to other people's feelings.  She is a little pushy at times when she feels I'm not paying enough attention to her but that is because she doesn't have many friends yet in this country.  We don't spend as much time together as we should because there are always conflicts with her husband and son and I'm not married and my children are grown.  But, I enjoy her company.  She gets a great deal of pleasure out of the simple things.  I took her to an Egyptology Society costume party earlier this year.  She had a great time with the belly dancers and got a kick out of the costumes.  She seems to appreciate America like those of us born and raised here forget to sometimes.  She likes candy but does not like "American food."  I think she is honest and kind.

Are you in Russia, A Human?

#8 tennyson

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 06:42 PM

Back in 1995 I met 15 Ruusians from Kaliningrad during a summer program for advanced students my state has. I don't remember a lot about them anymore but I have found myself wondering what happened to them recently. I also had a chance to meet a Russian policy analyst/political scientist when she gave a talk at my university a few years ago. I managed to flag her down imediately afterward and have kind of an illuminating discussion about Russian arms sales to China and how it wasn't in Russia's best interests. Other than that a few people who were in Russia have posted here and the rest is from my extensive research of every nation on the planet.
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#9 Cardie

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 07:01 PM

I know quite a lot of Russians who've moved to the United States.  Most of them are Russian Jews who worship at our synagogue.   I don't think that I can generalize about all Russians from knowing them, as all people are distinct individuals despite sharing a common nationality.  I do notice a greater emphasis on the extended family, but that's about it.

A Russian graduate student once worked as my research assistant, and she was very witty and enthusiastic, but her English wasn't perfect, so that sometimes made the research not go really well.

My own grandparents emigrated from Latvia and Lithuania when those countries were under Russian (but not Soviet) control.  I always think of myself as Russian, at least a little bit, even though many Russians would probably not agree!

My favorite cultural product from Russia is their composers, especially Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Rimsky-Korsakov.  I'm also fairly familiar with early Soviet films and 19th century Russian literature.

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#10 Spectacles

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 08:16 PM

I perk up whenever I see that have a Russian student in my class. Based on my experiences with them, I expect them to be incredibly committed to learning, extremely philosophical, well-read, appreciative of the arts. One semester I had three Russian women in a Composition I class. The material was demanding, but these women would write seven and eight page papers if I asked for four, and they'd spend hours with their dictionaries working through the readings, but they digested the ideas much more readily than most of my American students. In short, their critical thinking skills were much more refined.

I asked one of them what she had done for a living in Russia, half-expecting her to tell me she had been a teacher or a physicist. "I was secretary." She had had no formal education beyond the equivalent of high school, but in talking with her I found that she and her friends were far more well-read than most of our high school students. She explained to me that it seemed to her that their attitude toward education was different. It was more than a means to an end. Learning for learning's sake was generally valued. And she attributed this to Russian culture more than to the education system. Would you agree, A Human?

Unfortunately, one of the women and her husband were busted in an insurance scam a few years after she was in my class. When I read about it in the paper, I was really saddened. Evidently, her husband had become involved with the local chapter of the Russian mafia.  :pout:
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#11 Nonny

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 08:17 PM

I've known more people from former Soviet countries, every single one of whom was angry about the Russification of their culture, than I've known Russians, but one pair does stand out.  I was engaged to their son when I was a freshman in college, and was horrified by the woman who would have been my mother-in-law, had I not realized my terrible mistake and moved on.  That said, she and her husband were born to the wives of former Russian army officers who survived the Revolution by being stationed in Manchuria or Mongolia at the time.  Whichever place they were, they suffered great hardship during WWII, then came to the US, in hopes, not of making a good life for themselves and their son, no, but of reestablishing their "rightful" place amongst the uppity class.  :suspect:  Needless to say, they did not want their son wasting himself on a Slavic Catholic scholarship student from *gasp* a large family.  She sure said it needlessly often, though.   :rolleyes:

I laugh now, but trust me, these were nasty people.  But I don't believe for a minute that they're typical Russians.   :)

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#12 UoR11

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 09:47 PM

I've known a good deal of Russians, partly as a result of minoring in Russian Studies, and also having large numbers in the math departments both as an undergrad and now in grad school. In general, I've liked them, though they generally havn't had any idea how politics are suppossed to work, so my frequent political arguments are sometimes fustrating when they get involved. I've noticed most of them have had a morbid gallows sense of humor, which I like, as I laugh in the face of everything, and often they're the only ones who aren't horrified by it. I'm not sure if this is common of Russians in general, or just a side effect of them being in college, but they've also seemed to be much more of intellectuals than most people, by which I mean an interest in learning and knowledge, not just being intellegent.
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#13 Themis

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 10:14 PM

Intimately acquainted with the great ballet dancers, great ice skaters and great vodka.  The country as it is now embraces many cultures and ethnic groups, much as the US does.  Communism's gone, capitalism is struggling, people are more free but often not better off economically.  I saw an incredible exhibit of Russian art (huge landscapes) in London last year.   But I haven't known any Russians, or former Russians, personally.  Organized crime and bribery still seem to be problems.  Most skaters seem to have to train in the US or Canada because the economy doesn't seem to support keeping the ice rinks in decent condition.  We used to hear that it was hard to get fruits and veggies and Americans took canned (tinnede) veggies with them on travels.  Is that still a problem?   I'm not sure I've read all that much about daily life after Communism...  

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#14 SarvodayaLadaki

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 10:21 PM

I'm part Russian, but I really have nothing to say about Russians. *shrug*
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#15 Godeskian

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 01:29 AM

A Human, on Jul 19 2005, 10:44 PM, said:

Okay, I started this topic, because I am really interested in what people from different countries think about Russians.  :)  Tell me all your ideas!  :upside:


PS. But you MUST say only truth!   :wink:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Honestly, I know very little about Russia besides what I learnt in History. Lenin, Stalin, their work in WWII, the winter campaign and Steel Joe's gulag's. It's supposed to be a nation of great contradictions between amazing windswept beauty and majestic Eurals, and filthy, grimy uncared for cities. Between the rich in their pluche apartments watching people starve on the streets below.

Fur hats, big boots and vodka.

That's what i think I know about Russians, and i'll admit i'm probably way off.

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#16 scruffylookin

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:36 PM

All I'd like to see that instead of a thread quoting anecdotal evidence posted here by some, who I'll leave nameless as to not to inflame the thread, to  actually look up and learn about the culture and history that we dont know much about like the Russians or for that matter  Chinese, Japanese, Zimbabwe/Rhodesian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, etc, etc. and not cater to ignorance and myth or ideations that could be very misrepresentative and discriminatory in a thread like this.  Threads like this one may sometimes be not as informative when we enter into conjecture and speculation.
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#17 Themis

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:48 PM

I thought that was kinda the idea of this thread - to find out what we know (or really don't know) and what we think based on what we know (or don't know). ???

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#18 Godeskian

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:57 PM

scruffylookin, on Jul 20 2005, 08:36 PM, said:

All I'd like to see that instead of a thread quoting anecdotal evidence posted here by some, who I'll leave nameless as to not to inflame the thread, to  actually look up and learn about the culture and history that we dont know much about like the Russians or for that matter  Chinese, Japanese, Zimbabwe/Rhodesian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, etc, etc. and not cater to ignorance and myth or ideations that could be very misrepresentative and discriminatory in a thread like this. 

I'm sorry, I thought the intent was to be honest. Amongst the myriad things I have not had the time to look into is the history and culture of Russia. Unfortunatley, there is a nigh infinite amount of similar topics which I only know about through anecdotal information.

Had the thread read 'let's talk about what's real in Russia' the answer would have been different, or more likely, I would have remained quiet.

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#19 offworlder

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:01 PM

I don't really 'know' Russians here in USA, but I hear them speaking it in my area and in British Columbia, on the street, in shops ..... I go to this international deli by these three Russian ladies, and they have everything like beer and wine from Latvia and Russ and Romania, and meats to slice and cheese and fish from Baltic, and great desserts and bottles and bags of all kinds of things, and I buy from them but I don't know them, they speak about 1/2 English and it gets them by because at least 1/4 of the clientele are Russian.

My only real impression: is that they're more gregarious than they were under the boots heels of the Soviets. Though give Putin time, he's becoming, well, not exactly an exemplary western-style leader, if you know what I mean. ;)
I hope those over in Russ won't be running into any causes to lose that gregarious nature anytime too soon, *cross fingers

PS- there are a lot of Russian expats in northwestern north america
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#20 eloisel

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 07:23 PM

Other anecdotal comments on what I think about Russians:

I thought Omar Sharif made a great looking Russian.  Yes, I still have a crush on him no matter how old he gets.  And, yes, I am well aware that he is Egyptian and not Russian.  I'd still learn to play Bridge if I could play with him.

And, while Catherine II might have been the great reformer, I find Empress Catherine (I) more interesting.

Edited by eloisel, 20 July 2005 - 07:24 PM.




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