International Close-up: Russia

Hello again! We heard that you like our first “International Close-up” so for this newsletter, we chose another two countries to learn about their culture, local habits, economy and  places to visit. Russia and Italy. Five IUE-teachers and four students were interviewed about their countries. We were really glad to interview you guys! Thank you for everything.

Could you tell us about your connection with Russia?
Maria: I was born there, my family lives there and I grew up there. I came here in 2006.
Anastasiya: I spent half of my life there. I permanently came to Turkey in 2008.
Anfisa: My country is the Russian Federation which is the largest country in the world. I was born there and I am happy about it, as my family lives there and I am a representative of such a rich and huge culture. I have spent a lot of my time abroad, but as we say: “You may move out of Russia, but Russia never moves out of you.”
Maksim: My mother is Russian and my first language is Russian, but I was born in Turkmenistan. However, there are still many people there who speak Russian and call themselves Russian.problem.

Did you face any adaptation problems in Turkey?
Anastasiya and Maria: I think I passed through all the steps of adaptation in a foreign country.
Anfisa: I didn’t face any problems. I can speak basic Turkish, so I enjoyed the country from the first moment on. I was so happy to return to Turkey after I had been there in autumn.
Maksim: No, because Turkmenistan has a similar culture. Maybe I had some problems with the food because it is different, and I had a small language problem.

What is your most and least favourite thing about Russia?
Anastasiya: I am from the Ural Mountains. For me, the nature there is very beautiful. There are many rivers, small and big forests. I like the open green spaces and snow. Sometimes, I don’t like the behaviour of people in some situations.
Maria: I come from St. Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia. If we compare it with Izmir, there is no cultural life here. So, for me it is difficult because there are a lot of galleries, theatres and events in Russia. My least favourite thing about my country is the climate. It is very cold in winter; it can be -35°.
Anfisa: The best thing about Russia is its free higher education. You can study for free at every university if you pass your exams.. And it doesn’t matter if you are from a huge city or a small village, it is the same for everyone.The worst thing, unfortunately, is the Russian people. Russians are so close minded that I sometimes cannot talk to them, because they may say such stupid things and show their lack of intelligence. So, at certain times I regret knowing Russian and understanding what they are speaking about.
Maksim: The people are good. I like the snow, but at the same time it is really cold. The weather is not really nice, but I really like it anyway.

What are the must-see places of Russia?
Anastasiya and Maria: Of course the center of Moscow and the Red Square. Also, definitely St. Petersburg because it is very interesting and beautiful. Most tourists go there.
Anfisa: Russia is so big and so beautiful! If you are in Russia, go to “The Golden Ring of Russia”. There you may feel Russia, its architecture, religion and traditions. And probably the Baikal Lake, the deepest lake in the world. You may take your cup and drink water just from the lake, that’s amazing!
Maksim: St. Petersburg. It has a lot of historical places which you should visit. And Moscow!

What do you think about your language?
Anastasiya and Maria: The vocabulary is very rich. We have many words for which you can not find the same meaning in English or Turkish, so we have to explain it in sentences. For example, in Turkish we can explain it in one word, but in Russian we have five different words. Difficult but rich.
Anfisa: Russian is the third most difficult language in the world. We have two alphabets, one for machine writing and one for hand writing. And my language is really rich. You can’t imagine how rich, if you are not learning it.
Maksim: I think it is much harder than English or Turkish, but for me of course this is most beautiful language. It is incredibly detailed. There are lots of details which you need to explain to other people.

Could you give any advice to a person who will go to Russia?
Anastasiya: Take all of kinds of clothes, but don’t take summer clothes. I am not talking about winter by the way. I am talking about summer.
Maria: People at first may not be friendly. But when you become a real friend of the Russian people, they will give you everything they have. Most foreigners think Russian people are very cold and unfriendly but we have differences in culture. In our culture, it is inappropriate to smile at foreigners outside or in the bus or start talking, but if you ask for help, they will help you.
Anfisa: Be yourself. Our country is really safe, so you should not be afraid of staying at hostels or going outside at night. Listen to people, do not interrupt, eat all the food you are given and drink with people. If you say that you don’t want to eat or drink something, they will probably think you don’t like them.
Maksim: Just smile and be ready for the cold.

Anastasiya Özkan – Russian Language Teacher, SFL
Maria Camkıran – Russian Language Teacher, SFL
Maksim Sorokin – Computer Engineering Student
Anfisa Milchakova – AIESEC Student