Russia is often portrayed in the Western media as being a backwards crazy place. However, there are certain aspects of Russian culture that I find preferable to living in the West. This article lists the top four things that I like about Russia.
1. Less Bullshit
Russians simply don’t have time for pointless bullshit. They have too many real problems to deal with, and thus do not care about which political pundit is being protested at Berkeley or what the Kardashians are up to on any given week. As an American, I find this to be incredibly refreshing. The United States is world’s top supplier of pointless bullshit. Those who live in the US must contend with having an endless stream of BS constantly being funneled at them from their televisions, smart phones, and Facebook feeds.
Now don’t get me wrong, there still is a huge market for bullshit in Russia. But most Russians normally recognize something as being bullshit, although they might not publicly acknowledge it. When witnessing arguments between Russians, I often feel that one side knows that the other side is right, but still chooses to argue anyway as a way of defending their personal pride or when they know that the other side can’t prove their argument.
Russian bullshit takes the form of a new business partner telling you that they don’t know what happened to your money, or the police asking you to pay a “fee” so that they can instantly process a transgression and thus not need to bring you down to the station. In Russia, both parties are generally aware that something is bullshit, and the bullshitting is done to serve a specific purpose.
In the United States, the use of bullshit is further extended for the purposes of promotion, spectacle, and as a distraction to fill the void of a meaningless life. While certain instances of conniving bullshit may cause one problems in Russia, the endless pointless caustic type of bullshit which slowly erodes one’s sanity is more easily avoidable.
In Russia, a solution for most situations can normally be found, although it will likely require a cash transaction. Since the standard procedures for many things are often inadequate or overly cumbersome, there is a market for improvised solutions. Depending on who you are and what you need done, this flexibility could be to your benefit. You do not always have to operate within the strict confines of a system as is required in places such as Germany.
Russia is a country of loopholes. In some cases, people use a certain loophole so often that it has become the standard way of accomplishing something, even if it is not the official way that it should be done. For example, many Russians from Saint Petersburg apply for Europe travel visas from their neighbor Finland, given that they are the easiest to have approved. They still do this despite Finland not being the actual destination in Europe to which they desire to travel. After getting their visa approved, they will even make an initial trip to Finland just to get the required stamp in their passports before heading off to Spain or where ever else it is that they really want to go.
Likewise, foreigners who desire to stay in Russia for longer periods of time, often apply for three month business visas although they have no actual business to do in the country. They simple pay a fee to an agency which finds a Russian company to sponsor the visa. When they arrive at the boarder, its pretty obvious to the guards that they plan to stay in Western Russia and are not heading further East to Siberia to do business with Pavel’s Ball Bearings Inc. This being another instance of mutually recognized and accepted bullshit, the foreigners are let in. Fortunately US citizens don’t need to play this game given that they can apply for a three year tourist visa to Russia.
3. No PC Culture.
In Russia, generally you can speak your mind more openly without worrying about being shamed for not totally subscribing to a rigid ideology. You won’t be receiving self righteous condemnations from 20 year old liberal arts students with no real life experience. While in Russia there are a few subjects that are much more taboo and less open for discussion than in the West, overall people could really care less about what you say. If they think that you are an idiot or don’t like you, they will let you know. This leads to more authentic and honest conversations. While I’m all for general politeness and common courtesy, the growing PC culture in the US has become incredibly overbearing.
Russian women are in a class completely of their own. The tough environment in which they have grown up has made them incredibly strong, and yet they have still been able to hold onto their femininity. In Russia, femininity and fortitude are not mutually exclusive personal attributes, unlike how they are often portrayed as being in the United States and other Western countries. There is still a healthy and natural polarization between men and women in Russia, and the natural differences between between the two genders are to expected and celebrated. Men and women can be equals without being exactly the same in every way. I believe this leads to greater harmony and fulfillment within relationships.
Having come face to face with the cold hard reality of the world, most Russians don’t have the same sense of entitlement that you may find in Western nations. While most Russian women dream about getting married and having children, their dream is centered around the family itself. This differs from the common “me me me” attitude found in the West, which involves tens of thousands of dollars being spent on engagement rings, wedding dresses and other paraphernalia. Russian women take personal responsibility for their own happiness and fulfillment and don’t expect it to be externally provided to them.
The combined beauty, elegance, grace, and intellect of the average Russian women is incredibly hard to match.