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A letter to a pen friend


Hi Jack!

I’m glad that you are going to study in Russia. I’m sure that will be a great experience, but I hope you won’t get the so-called culture shock. Here are some things you should remember while staying in Russia:

First of all Russian people go to bed quite late so don’t be surprised to get a phone call at 11 p.m.  It’ll take some time to get used to the right-side traffic, so be careful while crossing the road. Also drivers are sometimes very impatient and careless.

It’s also worth noting that we have dinner at 7 p.m. or even earlier, but if you’ll live in a hostel that doesn’t matter. Well, if I’ll have any questions fell free to ask them. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards, ….




Hi Jenny,

I'm so glad, that you are coming to study at my university! We will be able to see each other every day!

But how did you come to this decision? Are you not afraid to leave your native land?

In any case I'm bound to warn you about some specific features of Russian culture. All this can shock you, but we are good people If you get to know us better!

A lot of Russians swear from abundance of the heart. And we are very emotional nation. So study both normal language and obscene expressions! ;) Then you should take more worm clothes. And NEVER eat  in the canteen near our hostel!!

And if you don`t change your mind, read about our culture in the Internet and fill free to ask me about everything! I will be happy  to help you!


Hope to hear from you soon!!





Dear David,

I heard from Isaac (Abraham has called him today) that you’re going to Russia. 

 There are some things about Russia which are necessary for you to know.

 First of all when your plane will be approaching to the destination don’t worry if you got to another city—in Russia it’s OK.

Then after you pass the passport checkpoint try to deliver yourself as fast as you can to the baggage claim area—you will see why.

When you have arrived to the hostel try to be EXTREMELY polite with old woman sitting at the entrance because the comfort of your staying (room, bed-clothes, hot water etc.) will depend on it.

Russian people (especially students) are very sociable and you will easily make friends here. If your new friends offer you to drink something never refuse even if you don’t drink at all—it’s a bad form. Nevertheless because of many different cultures in Russia people here will easily understand you at a glance.

Russian cuisine is very rich so if you want to taste everything try to find a girlfriend—there are a lot of women and they like foreigners. So I think you will have no problems with staying in this country except the fact that it snows sometimes in winter here and bears appear in the streets. Anyway I am looking forward to seeing you in Russia soon.

Yours truly,



“How to cope with Russian culture shock”


 You have to remember that Russian culture is full of opposites. That is the place where East and West combine and create detonating mixture of cultures all over the world.

 For this reason the best way to cope with culture shock is to remember the following things and try to relax, not worry about them:

  1. Russian culture is old, but new in some ways.
  2. The weather here could be cold, …and hot
  3. People here could be smart (Kasparov) and rich (as businessmen), very rich (Abramovich), creative (Russia-is Motherland of Cheburashka) and curious (Gagarin), and very-very talented (the best ballet in the world).
  4. So wonderful and so new. However You will never know what is inside.
  5. Your negotiations inRussiacould go in a way of feast. In some steps:

-Formal (classical negotiations)

-Informal (with vodka and cucumbers)

-Extreme (You’ll enjoy it :) )

-Superextreme (Extreme +banya)

  1. Paper and signature with a stamp aren’t the best guarantee In Russia in comparison with good relationships.
  2. Time is different in every part of the country. Time here doesn’t mean money. It means big money. However, time depends on the mood




Hello, dear Mary!

I’m really happy you are coming. It’s a great pity, that you are not going to live with me, but, anyway, I feel  like giving you some advice aboutRussiato prevent you from shock or some cultural gaffes.

First of all, don’t be afraid, but people in streets are not friendly at all and hardly ever smile. It happens not because of their angriness and not because they hate everyone including you. They just try to hide feelings in such a way.

Secondly, there are no bears in the streets. At all. Fortunately. Don’t try to find them.

Thirdly, beware cheap canteens.  If food there is not tasty, perhaps, it’s not fresh or well-cooked. The same belongs to food stores.  Be careful.

And at last I want to convince you that, surprisingly as it may seem, Russians are very sympathetic and helpful people. So if you need any help concerning your studies or whatever else, don’t hesitate to ask for it. And smile less, it can look suspicious.




Hello Michael!

I congratulate you on coming to our country from theUSAfor studying! As you have already heard, Russian system of education is one of the most developed in the world. That’s why you must work hard. Besides, there will be some other difficulties for you connected with culture shock:

  • nutrition: traditional Russian dishes differ from the American ones greatly, but still there are enough McDonald’s inMoscowand  in the suburbs.
  • You will feel uncomfortable in the society of students as most of them are slim and go info sports unlike American students who prefer to spend their free time watching TV and going out ti McDonald’s.
  • Transport: of course, Russian metro is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, it is also rather fast and convenient, but city transport turns out to be rather slow because of traffic jams and, besides expensive.


I hope you’ll cope with all the problems and I wish you success in your studies.



            Hi, I'm looking forward for meeting you, but first I'd better warn you about several Russian peculiarity for you not to experience culture shock, but don't be afraid, Russia is a normal country with no bears in towns, people don't drink vodka much and forget about other common stereotypes, Russia is absolutely normal European country.


  1. Don't try to ask for direction in Moscow. Better call me.
  2. Be aware of  pickpockets in public transport.
  3. Underground in Moscow is really huge and extremely overcrowded, so be ready.
  4. Never stand on the left side of escalator.
  5. Don't listen to anyone trying to persuade you to buy something. We'll go shopping together.


            I think that's everything you should know for the first time. See you later.



 My dear friend!

I am glad to hear that soon I’ll be able to see you in our country! Take my warmest greetings and congratulations on the opportunity for you to study with us! Our country will hospitably receive you, you know, Russian people are good-natured and kind-hearted.

However, I suppose you’ll miss home… You have a different culture in your country indeed! I’d like you to fell comfortable during your staying in Russia as far as possible. So, I think, my duty is to tell you some words about our country for you not to be surprised or confused.

First of all you should be careful on the roads – remember that we have right-side street traffic, and also some crazy drivers. So you should look twice before you cross the road. Moreover in the streets you can run into bicyclists or roller-skaters – also don’t forget about them. What about public transport in the town, you can use public buses or better regular minibuses, in witch you should pass money to the driver through other people.

I suppose some facts would shock you: a variety of animals in streets, from pigeons and cats to dogs and horses; some streets are not very clean – our yardmen don’t have time to tidy up everywhere; in addition don’t pay attention to people in the evening walking in sinusoidal direction – and try not to be noticed by them either. Sometimes some bad-dressed people can come to you asking for some money – in most cases they are alcoholics, unfortunately you can easily face this situation nowadays.

What about climate – you know, depending on season the temperature varies usually from -25 to30 °C. Anyway you are worth to take a warm coat and high-boots as well as light clothes. And don’t forget an umbrella!

In conclusion I’d like to add that Russian people are usually rather friendly and talkative – don’t hesitate to talk to unknown people and easily strike up an acquaintance. Especially you’ll be imbued with deep Russian spirit on some national holidays hold in the streets such as New Year, Victory Day or Pancake week.

I hope you’ll like our country. I’m looking forward to our meeting! Have a good flight!

With best wishes

Yours …




Hello Mary!

How are you? What is the news? I’m so happy that you will study in Russia. I’ll operate  a tour for you. I’m going to show you the most marvelous sights. I really don’t understand why you are worrying about your living here. Russian people are very hospitable and kind. I think you should learn  a little about Russian traditions in order to cope with culture shock. Also you may speak to your friends who have already been here last year. They can tell you aspects about living in my country that surprised them. There are many differences between our cultures but I think you will get used to them very soon. I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Good bye.




If you decided to spend here about one season, you should take some worm clothes because we have rather freezing winter. However, the weather isn’t the main problem. Our people may seem to be careless or unpleased in various situations even when this kind of behavior could hurt them, so this point will confuse you mostly. Moreover, some citizens act as they are wild tribe from time to time, and you have to choose words very attentively or be able to run as fast as a rabbit when you meet them. In addition, you must prepare yourself for being lied to almost at every communication places like supermarkets, cinemas, buses and so on. It happens not because of character, but because of complicated situation among the society nowadays. Despite of mentioned features, if you can get on with your neighbors or succeed in making friends, you will gain the best and the most devoted fellow you have never meet before.    



 When travelers visit Russia for the first time, they are bound to experience culture shock. Russian culture shock is a result of tourists being unfamiliar with Russian culture and customs. When visitors tour Russia, they will very likely experience what almost every Russian tourist experiences to some degree.

There are some signs of culture shock in Russia: you may feel anxious or nervous, having the feeling that coming to Russia was a mistake, homesickness.

There are many different reasons why people will experience culture shock in Russia, but the main reason is probably the language. The Russian language has Cyrillic letters, which make some of the letters familiar to English-speakers, but some of them not familiar at all. For example one English man who went to see a football match in the city of Voronezh. There were two Russian football teams playing that day and he went there to somehow see something about the Russian culture, I mean emotions and all in all it was his first week in Russia anyway…And the point is that the name of Voronezh football team is 'FAKEL' it means 'torch' in English. So imagine his reaction to hear thousands of people shouting 'FAKEL' 'FAKEL' FAKEL'! He was certainly shocked. At least till the day he found out 'Fakel' is a common Russian word.

Another factor in Russia culture shock is the different customs. Russians don't generally smile at strangers, and may come off as being aloof. Contrary if a Russian has accepted you as a friend, they will be the most loyal and generous friend you have ever had. In business this is extremely frustrating, as customer satisfaction or even employee satisfaction simply does not enter the equation. As a result service can be absolutely shocking . It is not uncommon to be greeted by a shop assistant with the word "What?!" The general attitude is that if you don’t like it, you can go somewhere else.

The average Russian is very well-educated  and you might find to your surprise that the cleaning lady working in your office building is an engineer. Economic collapse has meant that it is often lucrative to do hard labour for a foreign company than to work in your area of expertise. Another aspect of life in Russia, which might be due to the economic troubles, is that bribery is a standard practice.

I think that the best way to prepare for culture shock in Russia is to realize that there's no escaping it and recognize the symptoms. It's important to remember that everyone visiting Russia will feel stress from the new surroundings. It's a normal reaction to being in a different country. Travelers can be patient with themselves and try to learn as much of the Russian language and culture as possible to try to ease some of the symptoms of culture shock in Russia.

See you soon, …


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