Friends, do you know that this month marks 5 years in Russia for me? I moved to Moscow in September 2007, which seems like a lifetime ago.
Moscow has changed me in so many ways – some of the changes have been really good, and others I’m not so proud of.
Here are five things living in Moscow has taught me (please excuse some of my sweeping generalizations):
1) How to Be Assertive: Muscovites know how to push, and get what they need and get what they want. A lot of times this comes out as really rude. Other times it comes out as bold. I’ve been bullied into a corner so many times here that it’s taught me to stand up for myself, and push for what I want or need. Whether it’s keeping my place in line, demanding answers to my questions at interviews or just speaking my mind, I’m really grateful to have been taught this. It’s surprising how far a little audacious assertiveness can get you!
2) How to Watch What You Eat: Russians are constantly worrying about their health, and how what they eat affects them, and are fairly paranoid about food preservatives, etc. They’re also, on the whole, much slimmer than Americans. It’s harder to get a wide variety of health foods here, but I’ve definitely learned from Russian friends how to be better about eating healthy.
3) How to Appreciate Art and Culture: It’s not that Americans don’t appreciate art, I just think that I’ve happened on a lot more friends here in Moscow that are really hungry for art. Maybe it’s because things are aesthetically pretty bleak here, especially in winter, but I find myself craving art here like I never used to in the U.S. I love going to museums, concerts, opera’s, ballets, and art galleries here, and I love having friends that know so much more about art than I do.
4) How to be Honest: Sometimes ‘Minnesota Nice’ gives you a false sense of security. Sometimes we just want to hear it like it is. I’ve definitely become less nice in Moscow. This isn’t always a good thing, but I appreciate being told the truth, even if it isn’t always nice.
5) How to Dive Right in: Why waste time with small talk when we can jump right in to philosophy, religion, and politics? I love being away from politically-correct conversations here, and I love being able to get right to the interesting and controversial stuff when I talk to people. Russians are great conversationalists.
What about you, how has where you lived influenced you? Have any of you moved from Russia to the U.S.? What has living in the U.S. taught you??
P.S. Photo found here…