Ask “Who is last?” if you are in a disorganized queue.
In some institutions, such as even the Federal Migration System in Russia (which I have visited), queue numbers don’t ever exist. So, as soon as you enter the room, your eyes find lots of people desperately waiting for their turn. If you don’t see the machine for taking a number, surely the first thing you must do is ask, “Who is the last one?” (кто последний? Kto posledniy?) Only locals or people who have been in Russia too long have formed this habit.
Take off your shoes when you enter your own home or someone else’s home.
I used to think that, in all western countries, wearing your shoes at home is acceptable. Any time I think about it, I feel disgusted. Ew… But, it doesn’t work in Russia (or maybe they are not one of the western countries like I thought before). You must take your shoes off any time you enter your own home or someone else’s home. Bring your own slippers or let the host offer you some. Don’t dare wear your shoes inside!
Always buy a bouquet consisting of an odd number of flowers.
Russia is one of the countries where superstition is still prevalent, in both old people and young people. The most common one is about the number of flowers. I talk about flowers just because Russian men are really fond of buying flowers any time they can on any occasion. So, if you have a Russian girlfriend, make sure you do too, even if the price dazzles you, and please buy a bouquet with an odd number of flowers – because bouquets with an even number of flowers are only for dead people.
Know how to differentiate between ‘acquaintance’ and ‘friend/buddy’.
The stereotype about how cold Russians are is actually quite reasonable. Even though they are more shy than unfriendly, you will still find it hard to make a close friend during your stay in this country. Only Russians know how to properly differentiate between ‘acquaintance’ and ‘friend/buddy’. Acquaintance means somebody you have known for a while – it could be a day, a month, a year, or even longer. No matter how often you speak to each other and how ‘close’ you think you are with that person, if you haven’t passed through some hard times or grown up together and been in contact frequently, you are not their buddy. As a result, it’s no wonder that Russians have an average of one, two, or a maximum of three really close friends during their entire lives. That was actually based on my own experience. Who knows? Your experience may be different.
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Needing to arrange a shashlik party whenever you have the opportunity to do so.
Russians love barbecue, that is well-known throughout the country as “shashlik”. The most important things to remember are that shashlik is better done with the help of coal, and you should not grill it in the park, but rather in the forest or in your own dacha. Spring, summer, and autumn are the best times for doing ‘shashlik’, although in the summer you must be careful not to burn the forest down. The point of ‘shashlik’ is not about eating barbecue, but rather the gathering itself as shashlik is mostly done by a family or a group of friends so they can have some chit-chat, enjoy a cold beer (if someone drinks), and just sit together telling some Russian jokes to each other (which normally take more time for me to understand due to cultural differences).
Standing in the middle of the road and talking happily without caring about other people.
This one is a bit subjective, but as it occurs with me frequently, I can tell that this one is really a sort of Russian habit. No matter where they are, whether the road is broad or narrow, however old they are – youngsters, adults or even elderly people – they all like to talk in the middle of the road, stopping for a while just to greet each other and then have a never-ending conversation with some passer-by or their acquaintances/buddies who they accidentally meet on the street. They really stand in the middle – right in the middle – and never think to step aside for a while to give other people space to pass by. Some will even get quite annoyed if you ask them to move aside.