Wednesday, March 28, 2007


In an earlier post I included a list of ways you can tell you've been in Russia too long. I received an e-mail with another version and have included additional comments here. I apologize for not knowing the original source.


-You hear the radio say it is zero degrees outside and you think it is a nice day for a change.
-You ask for no ice in your drink.
-You change into tapki (slippers) and wash your hands as soon as you walk into your apartment. -You begin to refer to locals as nashi (ours).
-You have to check your passport for an arrival-in-Russia date.
-You've been to Tallinn at least a dozen times for extending visas.
-Cigarette smoke becomes 'tolerable'.
-You think metal doors are a necessity.
-You changed apartments 6 times in 6 months.
-You no longer feel like going to your 'home' country.
-You speak to other expats in your native language, but forget a few of the simplest words and throw in some Russian ones.
-You no longer miss the foods you grew up with, and pass them up at foreign-owned supermarkets.
-You look for kvas and kefir in the supermarket, and ask to buy half a head of cabbage.
-You don't feel guilty about not paying on the trolleybus.
-The elevator aroma seems reassuring somehow.
-You can heat water on the stove and shower with it in less than 10 minutes.
-You know the Moscow or St. Pete Metro better than you know the subway system back home.
-A weekend anywhere in the Baltics qualifies as a trip to the West.
-You catch yourself whistling indoors and feel guilty.
-You never smile in public when you're alone.
-You are in awe that after 3 days home your shoes are still clean.
-(For those from the US or the UK) A gallon of gasoline or milk seems like a foreign concept.
-The word 'salad' ceases for you to have anything to do with lettuce.
-Mayonnaise becomes your dressing of choice.
-You begin paying attention to peoples' floors and can distinguish the quality of linoleum and/or parquet, and thus determine social status, taste, and income e.g. embezzled, earned, pension, unpaid, etc.)
-You do all your shopping at kiosks.
-You voluntarily take a stroll in the park, ice-cream in hand, on a sub-zero day.
-You laugh at Russian jokes.
-You actually get these jokes.
-You actually spend time writing these jokes!
-You think it's too hot, no matter what season you return to your home country.
-You realize that all the above and the other messages on this subject posted here are what you love about Russia, that you've been here long enough to feel at home and wonder whether you'll ever able to fit back in the old country...


  1. Было бы интересно увидеть аналогичный список, посвященные США. "Вы понимаете, что Вы слишком долго в Америке, если...".

  2. Давай приезжай в США, увидишь!

  3. What a lovely post! I'm looking for something, thus stumbled on some old posts of yours...I want to read them all!

    I love the "salad" comment - when I was working at the food pantry, the inner city folks would ask for "salad" and it took me a while to realize that for them the word actually MEANS "lettuce" and nothing but. Sort-of the opposite concept.

    I thought Russian mayonnaise tasted better. Am I imagining things?

  4. Annie, you always catch the little details! Actually, if you get something with "salat" here, it does mean lettuce.

    I didn't write the list, but maybe it is referring to the more mayonnaise-laden holiday dishes like olivye. Of course there are fresher ones too, but lettuce is not usually a main ingredient.

    I rarely notice the flavor of mayonnaise. We only use "Hellmann's" at home and there are many brands here. But it does seem like Russian salads are usually dressed ahead of time with mayonnaise or vegetable oil. It's not the same as everyone getting out his/her favorite bottle of dressing or ordering a dressing of choice in a restaurant, like in the States.


Note: Comments aren't proofread, but I will delete them if they seem inappropriate.

You’re welcome to leave a link to your own blog here if it's relevant to this blog.

Please make sure that your comments are 1) relevant and 2) respectful (i.e. no cuss words, attacks on individuals).