7 Songs To Better Understand Russian Culture

When you’re learning a foreign language or travelling to a new country, it’s often important to know what music is popular there and what songs are well-known to everyone. I decided to share a list of  Russian  songs I consider depict Russian character, values and soul. Enjoy and leave comments if you’ve heard any of the songs before or if you liked any after listening.

1. Pelageya “The horse” – Пелагея “Конь”

To me this song is like an unofficial Russian anthem. Originally the song is performed by Nikolai Rastorguev and his group “Lyube”.  

2. Lyube “Birches”- Любэ “Березы”

This song is also very well-known. The birch as a specific symbol of Russia is in the centre of the song.

“My dear, let sit down for good road.

You should understand that I’ll come back, don’t be sad, do not,” –

And my old mother will wave me goodbye

And close gates.

3. The White Eagle “How delightful evenings in Russia” – Белый Орел “Как упоительны в России вечера”

This song is quite old but still you may feel Russian spirit in it. Maybe nowadays youngsters don’t sing it near the campfire but they definitely know it.

4. Igor Kornelyuk “The city that doesn’t exist” – Игорь Корнелюк “Город, которого нет”

“The city which doesn’t exist” is about St. Petersburg and this song was a soundtrack for a popular TV series “Bandit Peterburg” (Бандитский Петербург) in the crazy 90s.

Who will answer me what is given by destiny?
Let it be not fated to know about it,
Perhaps, behind a threshold of the waisted years
I will find this city which doesn’t exist…

5. Би-2 – Молитва (OST “Метро”) – BI-2 “Prayer”

Splin is a popular rock band and they have many great songs. This one is a soundtrack for the Russian movie “The Metro”, which depicts a touching story.

Hush , showers on the roof slowly breathe before you leap.

I hear all your thoughts, that we close all topsy-turvy .

6. Splin “Romance” – Сплин “Романс”

7. Viktor Tsoi “Star called Sun– Виктор Цой – Звезда По Имени Солнце

Viktor Tsoi, a Soviet singer and songwriter who co-founded Kino, is one of the most popular and musically influential bands in the history of Russian music. Also, there is an English variant for this song by Brazzaville.


And we know that nothing will change, that Fate will favor the one
Him who lives by the rules of his own, him who’s destined to fight and die young
He forgets about the words: ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, ranks and names mean nothing to him
He can reach for any star in the sky, and for him it’s not just a dream
And fall burned by the star known as the Sun

As a great lover of Brazil I’ve already learned two songs for my travelling to Brazil one day – “Ai se eu te pego” and “Amo noite e dia”. 😀 Now continuousy searching for something French, except for Zaz… 🙂 For me it would be really wonderful if you could share songs popular in your country and especially music loved by generations!

Russians and Americans. How different are they?

gs83Ui3vLSs.jpgWe all know people are different. We speak different languages, we grow in a different social setting – a bunch of factors has influence on the way we react to something… But how do Russians differ from Americans? Why do they behave like they do? Below are some situations from my life and scientific explanations of them which I discovered recently.

Situation #1

One American friend of mine once asked me what I wanted to do in the future and how I was going to live my life. Shortly, what was my plan? It seems a simple question but… Trying to explain my view on my future I turned to such lexical units as “hope…” and “maybe” and I did it several times. My answer was obscure and abstract especially for an American having a different mentality. At that moment I was sure I couldn’t thoroughly formulate my plan because I’m in my 20s and I’m still searching for that very place/person/job… After all, there are circumstances and to be so confident about your plans is even a bit stupid. I felt I couldn’t say anything but general things and my American friend expressed his opinion: “You MUST plan and only then your life would follow that plan!” Misunderstanding? Kind of. Is it purely my personal problem with planning or something more? Of course, I asked this question myself…

It turns out cross-cultural psychologists studied this issue some years ago and made a conclusion that Americans consider an individual can influence the future while Russians think that life follows a certain way and an individual may only have a choice in frames of his/her destiny. But why is that? People living in Russia always lived in a country that stretches from west to east for thousands of kilometres. People inhabited places with severe weather where to plant crops was always a 50/50 thing. What did they have to do? Right, they hoped the weather would be fine and the following year would bring a good harvest… This all formed the way Russians think and it significantly affected our behaviour regarding planning which is so much about hope…

Situation #2

I changed quite a lot of jobs… I worked as a lifeguard, salesperson, teacher, receptionist… I worked in the sphere of oil and gas, tourism, and many more. When I quit my job, I feel some indescribable kind of pain, you know. No! I always change my job for a reason. And I’m incredibly happy I worked in all of those spheres! At the same time I’m happy I left those places. :)

But then, sending my CV to a new company, I’m thinking about how those people out there will evaluate my resume. Why? Because in Russia to change a lot of jobs is a sign that something’s wrong with that person. Yes-yes! Such people are considered not serious and their personal and professional qualities are in question. To work in one company for many-many years is a norm in Russia. You often can hear: “Wow! He has been working there for 10 years already!” This phrase usually implies admiration and praise. As it was noticed by scientists, Americans have a different point of view on people changing their jobs. Changing jobs often means a person likes to try new things, to learn new skills and meet challenges. So yes, such a difference!

Situation #3

– How many friends do you have?

– One true friend.

-What? How can it be? I would say you’re quite easy-going…

This is a normal situation in my life. Usually such conversations include my explanations that people I communicate with are my super great university group mates and just many wonderful acquaintances. I do appreciate all of them but I can’t call them real friends.

How does science explain this? Experts say Americans tend to have numerous friendly relations but they are often shallow and temporary. Social duties are often being avoided. In contrast, Russians seek for deep and permanent relationships. And when helping, Russians often think “Today I help him, and tomorrow somebody will help me”.

Of course, these differences between Russians and Americans can’t be applied to every single representative of this or that culture but still thay have place. These findings make me bear in mind that there’s always an explanation for somebody’s behavior. 🙂

Have you experienced culture schock? Think twice.

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Looking back on some of my travels and knowing now how culture shock is defined by academics, my answer to this question is a reluctant “YES”. Reluctant because I have always wanted to believe I was prepared for everything I faced when travelling or moving to a new social or cultural setting. And frankly speaking, nothing really shocked me so much that I could say “Oh yes, that was definitely culture shock!” The point is I completely misunderstood this concept. But instead of listing my suggestions what culture shock is, I thought I’d share some interesting research I came across recently.

According to psychologists, culture shock is the anxiety and emotional disturbance experienced by people when two sets of realities and conceptualisations meet, shock from facing something new. This experience may easily lead to negative evaluation of person’s own culture or he may consider his own culture superior.

Symptoms of culture shock by Oberg :

  • excessive hand washing
  • excessive concern over water and food safety
  • fear of physical contact with representatives of a new culture
  • a feeling of helplessness and dependence on long-term residents of one’s own nationality
  • excessive fear of being robbed or injured, concern over minor pains and cuts and abrasions

This reaction is a defence from new information, the amount of which is huge, so a person feels powerless for a period of time. Along with it, culture shock may be useful.

The symptoms list here is extremely short but in fact, scientists name more than 50 other signs of culture shock.

This research makes me think where and when I had culture shock… Anyway, knowing this now it’s even more interesting to compare the level of culture shock in different environments. 🙂

And you, have any ever had culture shock and where it happened to you?

Birthday Celebration Around the World

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While scientists are trying to determine the origin of birthdays, we can enjoy the diversity of possible ways to celebrate the day when we came to this world. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of birthday parties but celebration traditions from other nooks of the world make me think… Maybe this year I should celebrate my birthday mixing several traditions at once? So here’s the list of the ones I liked most of all.

Ireland

If you’re celebrating your birthday in this country, you can feel how it is to “bump” the floor. You doubt? Well, the Irish don’t. On a birthday adults turn a child upside down (or maybe your friends can do this with you) and then raise him/her up and down to the floor. One “bump” for each year. Are you celebrating 21? Get 22 bumps then! Irish people are big hearted so they’ll add an extra bump for good luck!

Denmark

The birthday cake is a “must” in this Nordic country but here it looks like a man or a woman (depending on whose BD party it is, of course). So why not to bake such a cake? And also, people hang a national flag outside the window to designate there is a person in the house who’s having a birthday. Have you got a flag with your national colours yet?

Japan

Birthday here isn’t as big a celebration as in the West. Until the mid of the 20th century the Japanese traditionally celebrated a person turning a year older on New Year’s Day (as well as in Vietnam and China, for instance). However, in recent years, the influence of the the West penetrated the Japanese culture and nowadays people often celebrate their birthday on the day of the actual birth. There exist no restrictions regarding celebration of a birthday but majority of people used to congratulate parents for giving a birth to a child. So how about a present to your parents?

Canada

In Atlantic Canada the birthday person is ambushed and his/her nose is greased! Canadians do it for good luck… Thus the nose is slippery and bad luck will hardly catch a person. Hah!

P.S. My Canadian friend from Toronto hasn’t ever heard about it so… Distance matters. 😀

Brazil

Birthday cake is a traditional element of celebration as in many other places. But the peculiar thing is the celebrant chooses someone to whom he gives the first piece of cake. Usually this is the closest person. Usually it’s a mom. ❤

Israel

The celebrant usually wears a crown made from leaves or flowers and sits in a decorated chair. Guests may lift a person several times corresponding to the person’s age. And + 1 for extra good luck! Being in a kindergarden guarantees you’ll experience this though this fun tradition is more for guys and they do it approximately till the age of 30. 

North Africa

This is my favourite part! According to the Internet sources some tribes in North Africa usually don’t have any traditions connected with birthdays… They hardly celebrate them! They may celebrate birthdays once in 8 or 13 years. And in some parts they do it twice in life: when they are born and at the age of 52! Of course, this rule refers only to tribes. Other people in this region are definitely civilized. 🙂

P.S. Hey! Are you from any of these countries? Great! If it’s not true in your region/family, let me know! 🙂 

Сотни Улыбок – Одна Эмоция

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Как-то раз я наткнулась на советы для путешественников. Один из них был примерно следующего содержания: “Всегда улыбайтесь, так вы найдете язык с любым человеком.” Соглашусь, это действительно неплохой совет. Однако меня также давно интересовало, почему одни народы больше улыбаются, а другие меньше. С чем это связано? Какое отношение к улыбке в разных странах? И не будет ли расценена моя улыбка в каком-то регионе неправильно?

Итак, некоторые факты об улыбке в разных странах:

Китай

Проявление эмоций в целом в этой стране – непростой вопрос. На протяжении многих веков государство взращивало общество, основываясь на ценностях конфуцианской системы, которая ставила на первое место интересы общества и долг перед ним. Эмоциональные переживания, личные чувства, интересы и желания уходили на задний план. Проявление эмоций расценивалось как слабость и несоблюдение принятых норм. Конечно, в современном Китае ситуация меняется – все-таки мир обязывает иногда прислушиваться к другим культурам. Согласно открытым новостным статьям, при подготовке к Олимпийским Играм в 2008 году волонтеров обучали технике правильной улыбки. С этой целью использовали карандаш, который зажимали во рту так, чтобы оголить минимум 6 передних зубов. Так китайцы посчитали, что в их гостеприимстве приезжие сомневаться не будут. 

Япония

В этой восточной стране улыбка чаще всего не передает никакого эмоционального состояния. Улыбка – это всего лишь правило этикета. Японцы могут улыбаться, когда тяжело на душе или сообщая о смерти родственника. Такая сдержанность связана с желанием сберечь чувство другого, не поставить собеседника в неудобное положение и не показать свою слабость. “Сильнейший тот, кто улыбается,” – именно так говорят в стране восходящего солнца.

Бразилия

Бразильцы много улыбаются и большей частью искренне (Не будем рассматривать случай, когда твой босс опустил глупую шутку). “Rir pra nao chorar (Я скорее посмеюсь, чем заплачу!),” – так говорит один мой знакомый бразилец. Потеряв деньги, он именно посмеется над потерей, ведь он ничего не может изменить. Однако несмотря на легкое отношение к жизни, бразильцы навряд ли останутся равнодушными, если опоздают на поезд, а вот японец и здесь покажет минимум негативных эмоций, и, возможно, наоборот слегка улыбнется.

США

Улыбайся в 32 зуба, если не хочешь показаться неудачником – это об Америке. Отсутствие улыбки на лице – некий намек неблагополучия, а создавать такой имидж по собственной воле как-то не по-американски. Как сформировался этот элемент общения и почему он именно такой, мне до сих пор не понятно. Кто-то говорит, что это связано с историей освоения Америки. Ведь если ты сразу пришел победителем на континент, то почему бы не улыбаться и не воспитывать это в потомках? Другие считают, что это результат того, что американцы относятся к каждому человеку как к личности, с уважением и улыбаются именно по этой причине. Кто-то связывает это с благоприятным климатом, хотя климат в США далеко не везде как в райской Калифорнии, что ставит этот вариант под сомнение. Но факт остается фактом, большая часть американцев действительно много улыбается.

Вспоминается случай, когда я вернулась из штатов. Некоторые знакомые подшучивали надо мной, подмечая, что у меня стало больше мимических морщинок в области носогубных складок. Это правда. Не могу сказать, что меня это очень радовало в 20 лет. 😀 Вскоре все, конечно, прошло, а улыбку я по-прежнему считаю гораздо важнее, чем наличие морщинок впоследствии.

Россия

На просторах интернета уже давно объяснили внешнюю хмурость и неприветливость русских. После знакомства с русскими, многие иностранцы удивляются, какое неверное представление было у них раньше. Ведь русские просто улыбаются, когда действительно испытывают симпатию. А вот улыбка без основания – признак недалекого ума и глупости.

Везде улыбаются по-разному, но, мне кажется, искренняя улыбка всегда отражает одну и ту же эмоцию – счастье и радость. А вы отмечали изменения в своей улыбке при пребывании в другой стране?