Saturday, December 5, 2009

By the way

I need your input! Scroll down* to read how you can help me with a homework assignment.

A lot of things happen in Russia "by the way." As in, "I forgot to mention that..."

BY THE WAY, my phone number doesn't work anymore.

BY THE WAY, the tram isn't running.

BY THE WAY, I'm getting married.

BY THE WAY, the bank is closed for lunch.

And this is how I learned about my latest assignment for conversation class. more/-

On Wednesday, the instructor suddenly said,

"BY THE WAY, you're having your final exam next Wednesday. You need to prepare a 20-minute presentation." Wha...? I don't mind presentations, but isn't this a little sudden?

*So I need to pick a topic by Monday. I need ideas!

These are some of the topics we covered during the semester: Russian hospitality, the meaning of hand gestures, Russian flags and symbols, gender theory, advertising, time, housekeeping, healthy lifestyles, and fear.

I need a topic that is fairly universal. Naturally, I will be presenting some observations of Russian culture and comparing it with my own. Then my classmates will have a chance to ask some questions and weigh in.

Any suggestions???


  1. Possibilities are endless! I was thinking yesterday about how much more fun Russian people have than American people! Men, in particular, are not afraid to sing and dance. I remember being in the hotel in Ivanovo and seeing all the kids who were there for a big soccer tournament having a blast dancing in the nightclub. I remember walking by the river and seeing a group of teenagers just sitting on the benches singing. Looking up only a block or two later and seeing a group of young adults on a balcony - singing. Women dance with women - the point is the dancing! Men dance in a circle - again - it is fun! We were at a Russian restaurant/nightclub last night and my boys all sat like stones in their chairs. Yet they remember special nights at the boarding school where they'd have "disco" and they dance!

    Why are American men so BORING? So afraid that anything like singing and dancing makes them feminine?

    Just one thought!!

  2. Here's another thing that always surprises me. Russian people are so much more health-conscious than Americans in lots of ways. The diet seems a lot healthier with more vegetables and fish. They get a lot more exercise. But then there is the smoking and vodka - just the things Americans are conscious about - smoking and drinking!!

    And, then there is the emphasis on green things - plants in every home and office, and fresh flowers so ubiquitous! Here, of course, house plants are a sort of luxury item. Certainly flowers are. But in the US, a tidy yard with turf grass is pretty essential. In Russia, practically unknown. (A funny story I have not yet written about is how Ilya offered - or so I thought - to weed a flower bed in the back yard.... when I came home every green thing, including lawn and shrubs had been eradicated. It looked like a bomb had cleared the place. As a few green things grew back, he was quick to take care of them! He seems to have no understanding that THAT is why there is so much dirt in the house!!) Or even that our yard now looks very different than everyone elses.

  3. Yep, gender roles and lifestyle choices...we sort of covered them both, but I could expand on one of them.

    It's funny how Americans and Russians are strict about different things in different contexts.

    I definitely hadn't paid attention to the plants. What if you compared big cities in each country? How would NYC compare as far as green areas? I found that Moscow seemed greener than St. Petersburg, although St. Petersburg has a lot of parks.


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