When you are visiting a country for the very first time, chances are high that you may have developed a picture of what you should expect from it. You may have read something about the country and you may have developed stereotypes about the country and its people. This may be from what you have read in the news or other media platforms.
The truth is that Russia has a way of being on the news nearly every day! But what is it like to live in Russia? Are there any special considerations before you consider making Russia your next destination? Before we delve into that, it is instructive to note that Russia is indeed a country just like any other. Although it has its unique peculiarities, it does have several reasons why people still troop there.
What is it like to live in Russia?
Living in Russia comes with its positives and negatives. For instance, the tax rates are quite low with the income tax capped at 5% with a maximum of 13%. You also find out that the dental and health care are all free. Also, drugs in Russia are quite inexpensive, the streets are relatively safe and you won’t find homeless lunatics hanging around. Also, there are no issues of drive-by shootings, no teenage gangs. What’s more? The chances of police harassment are quite low, if they would ever stop you, it may be to assist you. The most notable issue with living in Russia is the communication aspect. Russians are generally terrible at planning and communication and don’t seem like bridging the gap soon.
What Daily Life And Social Customs In Russia Like
The times of the Soviet era ensured that most of the traditions and customs of the Russian imperial past were heavily suppressed. At this time, life was quite regulated and controlled by the state via its rich intelligence network. The 80s saw reforms by Mikhail Gorbachev which helped in easing the social and political restrictions. It also affects the folkways and traditions in addition to the open practice of religion.
The number of folk holidays that often come with traditional food has gained increased popularity and thus become quite important elements of the culture. There are festivities such as street carnivals that involve children and entertainers who are robbed in Russian attire. The boys on the other hand often put on a long-sleeved blue or red shirt using a round collar. The girls, on the other hand, put on a three-piece ensemble which is made up of a green sarafan and a long-sleeved blouse.
Maslyanitsa is reputed to be the oldest Russian folk holiday and it often signifies the end of the winter season. This holiday started during the pagan era.
Some Truths And Myths About Russia
One thing the media never seems to get tired of showing us are the different odd and new things about Russia daily. The information being issued out is enough to make anybody staying in Russia to be quite surprised. This is because the perception the media has of the whole thing is such that it features bombings, catastrophes, and a demolished economy. But what are the truths and myths about Russia?
1. Are there mafias in Russia
Is there dangerous mafia all over Russia? The belief that Russia is very unsafe with a feel of the wild west of the 20th century is unfounded. The truth is that Russia is like any other place in the world meaning that it is not more dangerous than other places. It is, however, advisable that you stay away from places that are considered as bad while adopting normal travelers’ safety.
The chances of being exposed to criminals suffice when you are engaged in some shady dealings with them. There isn’t much sense expecting to get into trouble with the mafia because they spend most of their time dealing. This means they probably won’t have time dealing with ordinary people. You can be sure that there is no gang crime in Moscow as all you will hear about is the serious stuff.
2. The conservative, orthodox police state
Another erroneous belief about Russia is that it is a state where its people hold a strictly orthodox belief system. The fact, however, is there are quite several people who hold conservative and orthodox belief systems.
Also, Russia is quite heavily policed. But then it should be noted that Russia had what can be best described as the most revolutions within the past century. This was a period where the country replaced certain systems such as monarchy to communism and then to democracy. You would be surprised to find out that Russian society is anything but conservative and orthodox.
An average Russian certainly loves to experiment. Also, Russians generally do not like rules. The fact is that the sense of freedom that exists in the country is such that it gives one of the highest sense of freedom than anywhere in the world. The rules in Russia may be strict, but there is a seeming lack of necessity to adhere to them.
3. Too much-traveling hassles
There is a general misconception that it can be challenging traveling to Russia with a lot of paperwork required. The reality is that if you know the processes required for getting things done, you do not have problems. The things you need are your invitation from Russia and passport. The process of getting an invitation is quite easy and you don’t have a need to book for a hotel for the period you will be there. The process of getting the invitation is quite easy as it can be made through travel agencies and hotels. This invitation can be sent to you through e-mail and fax. Also, the visa to Russia costs around $60 and it should be read within two weeks.
4. Chechnya and the terrorists
There is this myth about the Chechnya terrorist but people outside seem to make much about it than those within. The fact is that the state in Chechnya may be quite unstable and there are sometimes reports of people get murdered in conflicts. As cynical as this may seem, it is something you soon get used to and live our normal life. The truth is that the Chechnya issue is one that affects most Russians. It is like a bad dream that is so far away from the reality that one easily forgets it. It is so far away that you may only hear news about it on television. Of course, there are occasionally terrorist activities.
But if you consider the fact that terrorist activities happen in different parts of the world, you will realize that the danger is not a monopoly of Russia. The perception may have been helped if the media shifted its lens from the political view to the social issue. The fact is that there are quite several people who lack shelter and even orphans who are victims of the war. If all the efforts being made does go into humanitarian efforts, it would certainly do more good than bad.
5. Russians love to drink too much
This may not be too far from the truth. But it may have been blown a little out of proportion. The truth is that after quite several years of drinking, Russians have gotten quite immune to alcohol hence they do not easily become drunk. For instance, vodka is viewed as the best drink to become warm especially in the winter season. Alcoholism is a bit of a challenge in Russia, especially among the older generation. At the collapse of the then Soviet Union, several people became lost and sought to escape through bottles.
There is a school of thought that Putin is the Tsar of Russia and that the country is a dictatorship where there is no freedom. The reality, however, is that Putin was quite popular a politician just a few years back and does what the majority of the population desires. There have however been changes in his person as he decided to run for the third term and even rigged the parliamentary elections. These and many more reasons seem to have further exasperated the people of Russia. This is especially with those who are the middle class of the country.
There has been a lot of improvements in Russia during Putin’s reign. When he came into power he was viewed as what the country needed due to the vast nature and the complexity of the Russian Federation. This was because of his perceived strong hand. Putting can best be described as an amazing actor that has succeeded in seizing control of the media and as such dictates the narrative. But some people see Putin as someone who is doing all he can to ensure that the job gets done. But in all, Russia is not a dictatorship but is a democracy that is well scripted to favor the government of the day.
Life in Russia certainly couldn’t be as bad as you thought it was. Granted that some unique peculiarities do raise some issues of concern, but that does not mean that the country is as bad as most people may think. If you are considering visiting Russia anytime soon, you should consider dropping the goggles of criticality and open your eyes to embrace the prospects.
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