What is it like to live in Russia
Lifestyle of the Russian people
Russia - online travel guide
The Russians consider themselves a nation with high standards of education. A lot is read and you will be surprised if you say that you have not read authors like Pushkin or Leo Tolstoy! Books are relatively cheap to buy in Russia, and most people can afford to buy 5 to 10 books a month without breaking the family budget. Stage performances are also very popular and ticket prices for theater visits are comparable to cinema prices. You can choose from an impressive variety of offers, from opera to ballet, symphony concerts, drama, etc.
Every city has at least one theater. The stage culture was developed during the Soviet era when the tickets were sold through schools and shops: the cities were divided into neighborhood districts and a responsible theater agent was assigned to each of these districts. The agent distributed tickets to all shops and schools in the district, then the person in charge of the “cultural area” organized collective visits to the theater. Since the group experience was more enjoyable than the individual visit, this also explains the popularity of the theater. This is how the Russian people developed their preference for stage performances. Today you can enjoy a wide range of performances in the theater: from Russian plays to Shakespeare to the culture of the traveling people, contemporary plays and everything in between that you can imagine. The cinemas are also enjoying increasing popularity in Russia and are now equipped with the latest sound systems.
During the Soviet era there was a highly developed system of community work in which there was someone in all groups (school classes, departments at work, etc.) who was responsible for sports, education, political information, etc. In return, these agents received discounts on travel, on the purchase of goods that were not freely available, the right to better housing allocation, etc. During this time, almost all property was legally state property, the control and distribution of which provided incentives for active citizens. Only after the reforms of perestroika was property privatized again, and private property reintroduced. Perestroika largely removed the basis of the voluntary system, but the solid community spirit of the Russians has been preserved. This sometimes goes so far that Western foreigners can misunderstand it as an invasion of privacy.
Russian culture is not essentially individualistic. The power and influence of the individual is less in Russia than in the West, and most business is done through family, friends and acquaintances. A famous Russian proverb reads: “There is no me on the battlefield”. In Russia it is necessary to have relationships with decision makers to get things going. This, too, is one reason why Russians generally have more "friendships" than usual in the West. If you know the right people, you can make the most difficult things possible with little effort.
The majority of Russians nominally belong to the Christian faith, most of them are members of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is a great development for a country where atheism has been the official "state religion" for more than seventy years. However, a deep religiosity is not characteristic of everyday life. The average Russian pays more attention to the horoscope than to the Bible. Church visits are usually reduced to rituals such as lighting a candle or a quick prayer. The reason is often an upcoming event such as a business deal, or an exam for which one hopes for higher assistance, or the memory of a deceased. You do not have to be a member of the Church to use these services and you do not have to pay any monthly dues to it. The church earns its income from the sale of candles, memorabilia, and fees for baptisms, marriages, and funerals. A church wedding is not considered official in Russia. Before the church wedding, a couple must obtain the registration of the wedding with the competent authorities.
In principle, health care and education are free in Russia, but there is joke that education is less and less free every year. It is still possible to gain free access to university studies by passing the entrance exam. However, the number of scholarship holders has been reduced by the universities for years due to a lack of government funding. Because of its easy access to educational and cultural institutions, Russia can be awarded the status of a highly cultured nation. The general knowledge is widespread at a very good level: everyone knows a little thing in almost all areas. There is an eleven year compulsory education for primary and secondary schools. Classes include a curriculum that covers history, literature, music and geography. At least one foreign language is learned for six years, mostly English, although French, German and Spanish are also offered. The history courses include teaching Russian, European and American history. The literary canon includes the works of foreign authors, especially the European classics - in addition to a strong base of Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoevsky. The standard curriculum applies uniformly to the whole of Russia, only recently the establishment of optional courses was allowed.
In the entrance examinations of the various types of university, questions can only be asked about the content of the general curriculum of the secondary school. Universities accept students based on the results of these entrance exams and not based on school grades. Excellent school grades can, however, allow one to skip one or two of the four regular test levels.
A university degree is considered common. In this regard, Russia has the highest level of education in the world: more than 40% of the total population have a college or university degree. Since perestroika, however, the higher (university) education system has been in decline, as has the health system, which was also one of the best in the world. The problem with the Russian education system has always been that it is too theoretical in favor of practical requirements. Hence, it is not uncommon to find someone with an engineering degree in sales or a chemist in marketing. Secretaries too often have a university degree. Even a PhD is not considered a great asset; good English skills tend to give you a competitive advantage. The position in the hierarchy of a company is not considered to be as important as belonging to a certain (known) company. Foreign companies and even foreign public and non-profit organizations are considered preferred employers.
From an intellectual point of view, it's interesting to talk to Russians about profound topics. Philosophy is still a compulsory subject at the university and mandatory for qualification as a doctoral candidate. The other subjects are a foreign language and the technical focus itself. Russians are generally considered to be clever. Due to the need for constant improvisation in the face of problems and difficulties in everyday life, methodological knowledge for handling such problems has developed. Compliance with the law is generally to be classified as low, especially with regard to the rules in road traffic. Russians are among the most daring but also most capable motorists in the world, while pedestrians are among the most carefree.
The majority of Russians have less of what the West calls “good manners”. Russia is a tough country. Russians generally do not hesitate to give you their opinion directly and without further ado, also to avoid misunderstandings. During the Soviet era, "good manners" were considered a survival tactic for the bourgeoisie. Russians are very direct. During phone calls or encounters, time is rarely spent on polite phrases such as - "How are you?" - Instead, it gets straight to the heart of the matter. This is not to be taken as rudeness, it is simply their custom.
Due to their experience, Russians are used to instability and lack of planning security. Often you have to adapt quickly to new rules and laws. The Russians were faced with a long journey from the quasi-total state control of the Soviet era to the current status of almost complete insecurity. The lives of many have changed dramatically. If joy is used as the benchmark for quality, then it was mostly a change for the worse. Older generations in particular often remember the intelligibility, predictability and stability of the Soviet era with nostalgia. No matter what talents you had or what kind of work you did, nobody was given preferential treatment. Everyone's livelihoods were assured: a home, a job, free health care and cheap goods. Raising children was free, as was access to sports and cultural facilities.
In the present, people have lost the benefits of the socialist state, while the benefits of adopting the Western model of capitalism have not yet materialized for many. The majority of Russians don't really understand the huge difference in living conditions between Russia and the West. Russians generally do not think their standard of living is bad. There is a widespread feeling that positive change is taking place in the country and that “things are changing for the better”.
Russians like to emphasize their different attitudes towards material values and they consider themselves honest, warm, understanding and selfless. They like to talk about the “peculiarities of the Russian soul” or the “mysterious Russian soul”. The famous saying of a Russian poet is often repeated, which basically says, "You cannot understand Russia with your mind".
The Russians love their country. They may criticize it drastically, but if you feel compelled to do the same, you will be passionate about defending it. They are citizens of the largest country in the world in terms of area, which has a rich history and deep cultural roots - and they are proud of it.
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