Hello everyone!

I like this fourm a lot, but I was confused to have found little mentioning of Russia and (sorry if wrong!) no Russian people here. Either the world is too big, or the forum too new to embrace the whole world Emotion: smile

While travelling abroad recently, I found it too difficult to explain to people the main things about my own country, to emhasise the most important. Probably, there is too much to talk about. But this is a great chance I have here - to find out what foreigners think about us.

Do you associate it with the former Soviet Union? What Russians do you recall first when you think about Russia? What objects, qualities or places do you imagine to be the main 'trademarks' of this country?

I would be very appreciative for your oppinions!
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Hello Bubr, hello Russia!

The first comes to my mind about Russia is its magnitude in dimensions, then, the cold weather, then its importance in History and its Music.

The Russians who I recall first are Rimsky Korsakoff, , Stravisnky, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Glazunov ahhh y Kabalevsky!! y Prokofiev!!

I don't have asnwer for the third question, you tell us! Emotion: smile

I always see Russia as HUGE with a lot of spaces in the middle. It's very cold in Winter (which helped defeat Napolean and Hitler) and in some parts if you pour boiling water out of a kettle onto the ground, it will freeze before it gets there.
I don't associate Russia very much with the old Soviet Union. That was a thing of the past. Times change.
The Russians have very good sportspeople as they start them training from a very young age.
VODKA and lots of it.
When you greet in many European countries you give a kiss on the cheek but in Russia I heard that it is on the lips.
Red Square with the beautiful domes and spires (and lots of snow).
Moscow has the busiest subway/underground in the world.
That's about all for now.
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Thanks to Elena for the great list of artists. I would probably add Glinka, Musorgsky and, probably, Schostakovich to musicians. And I would definitely name some scientists like Mendeleyev (periodic system), Landau (superconductivity, advanced quantum mechanics and the great 10-volume book that the professional physicists in whole world seem to use) , Tsiolkovsky (the rocket engine idea). By the way, Elena, is it a Spanish form of your name? It is exactly as russians use it.

Thank you Woodward for the richly hued impressions. To tell the truth, your story of the coldness of Russian climate is... well... exaggregated Emotion: smile It is definitely much colder on most Russian territory than, say, in the US or most Europe. The coldest regions are the north (behind the Polar circle) and the Siberia (which is the huge eastern part of the country) where you can see some -40 C in winter. However, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, winter temperature rarely drops below -10 C. I never tried to pour water on the ground to check if it freezes in the air, but, to tell the truth, I doubt it Emotion: smile

As for the kiss on the lips that you told about - I can find mentioning of this (rare, though) form of greetings between men - find it in books some 100-200 years old. Now it is entirely gays' field. Most russians simply shake hands or even limit themselves to oral greetings.

As I had said before, I can't easily name russian 'trademarks'. The best think I could invent when speaking to foreigners was vodka. Being a traditional drink, now it is a great problem for many people who are dependent on it. It is neither common but nor rare occurence, though.

In the times of the Soviet Union - sportsmen and military potential were trademarks, too. Despite of the current great failures in team games hockey or soccer, we can be proud of the brilliant figure-skaters (Pluschenko, Slutskaya, Lobacheva&Averbuch), wrestlers (Karelin), some tennisists (Safin) and the monopoly in chess (Kasparov, Kramnik etc). However, the best sportsmen often represent foreign countries now, which is a sad thing. As for military potential - it is still strong but not as important as it was in 60-s and 70-s.

What I would say about Russia that may be much different from other countries is its multinationality. The Soviet Union used to unite many nations - Asians (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan...), the Caucasus people (Georgia, Armenia...), Slavs (Ukraina, Belarussia...), Baltic people (Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia) for mutual benefit, as we found later. Though these former republics are independent countries now, influence and heritage of Russia there is usually very strong. We used to move across the SU freely, to have friends or relatives in the neighbouring republics without problems, but now political barriers have grown between us. And it results, as I can see, in hostility between people of different republics, which is also sad to tell about.

Another thing to mention (but not more that to mention, I am no philisopher!) is the 'mysterious russian soul' that no-one (especially russiansEmotion: smile ) is able understand and, probably, express. If you had read 'Idiot' by Dostoevsky, you know what I am talking about.

Anyway, I am eager to know other oppinions. Please write how you imagine Russia, what legends and impressions you have about Russian people. It was really funny and useful to hear about water freezing in the air Emotion: smile - thanks again!

Bubr.
Hi Bubr,
Russia reminds me of my childhood. As you know the Union Soviet supported Vietnam a lot in the war against the French. When I was a little girl, I used to listen to Russian songs, watch Russian films and read lots of Russian stories and love them very much. Now I have some friends who are from Ukraine and Belarus and I can find that they are really really friendly...And I still have some very old songs like "Kachiusa", "The weeping willow"...
I promiss to myself to visit Russia some day....
Hi, Linh!

It's a difficult topic, really. Yes, some moments of our world's past make me stumble, especially the history of wars. I just cannot imagine how the people, the mentally healthy and friendly people I know now could have been going killing each other in the most cruel ways. All wars of the *** century, especially the last ones in Vietnam and Afganistan seem some kind of delirium to me. The military giants as the SU and the US are 'going out' to ruin the world's peace and to go through anything in order to prove supremacy. That is why I don't like to remember those episodes like Vietnamese, Auganistan wars, the nuclear bombing of Japan, etc. And AVOID TO BASE ANY OPPINION ABOUT THE NATIONS on those moments. Those were terrible mistakes of the people of the past, we are not them. Ugh, that's it, hope not to return here...

By the way, there is one thing about the russian friendliness you mentioned. In my oppinion, we, Russians, are really friendly and willing to help anyone but we don't express it. If you, say, meet an American who is in bad mood, he will still make an effort and smile to greet you; Japanese are obliged to smile when telling out about their troubles (this smile means: yes, my wife is sick, but I don't want to burden you with this). Russians are more dependent on their emotions and, hence, more ignorant to etiquette. But the Russian person you may know as a misanthrope may be, in fact, the kindest man on Earth, and you'll discover it upon closer communication. He/she may be just too sincere about his/her emotions, and if he is troubled, he will look like it. If he is not, you will see the sun in his eyes. The problem is SINCERITY Emotion: smile
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I was born in Russia, moved to the US when I was two, but I've never really lost touch with Russian culture. I still speak the language fluently (though reading and writing is a bit of a challenge now unfortunately) and my parents are regularly hosts to gatherings of Russians in which much vodka is consumed and many songs are sung.

I'll have to say that Russians do perpetuate many of the stereotypes associated with them, such as the drinking. Also, I went back there this summer to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Volgograd (former Stalingrad) and I noticed how everybody seemed very distant and cold. I noticed this with my parents as well. They never let anybody get close to them, and treat everyone just the same.

I associate a certain nostalgia for Russia, for the tiny broken down cars without seatbelts, the cold empty benches in the winter, the ragged apartment buildings and the still rivers among the huge fields. One of my favorite experiences was taking trains up and down the country. Its hard to describe, but it must be something like the concept of the 'mysterious russian soul.'

I don't know if Russia can ever be loved by anybody besides the Russians. But then again, I really wouldn't know.
Sorry this was so long..
Bubr, souls have no nationality. But I understood what you ment. As far as the mutual advantage of the Russians and other nations living together, it may be true for the Georgians and Armenians but definitely not true for Estonia or the other Baltic states for instance. My students enjoyed reading you. Thanks a lot.Emotion: smile
Hm... Interesting, what your students think about Bubr, as a person?

I have just one association - propaganda, propaganda and one more time - propaganda. Somebody in Moscow run new "internet" project ...

PS Sorry for mistakes, English is my second language

"Bog v pomoj" ...
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