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Lesson Transcript

Oksana: Всем привет! С вами Оксана!
Eddie: Hello and welcome to RussianPOD101.com, where we study modern Russian in a fun, educational format! This is all about, Lesson 13 - Five Tips On How To Behave In Russia.
Oksana: So, brush up on the Russian that you started learning long ago, or start learning today.
Eddie: Thanks for being here with us for this lesson, Oksana, what are we looking at in this lesson?
Oksana: Today we’re going to talk about cultural differences and what is considered good and bad manners in Russia.
Eddie: And that’s really important, there’s no excuse for bad manners.
Oksana: There really isn’t. As the saying goes “When in Rome do as the Romans do”.
Eddie: That’s very true and I think as well as being important; it’s nice that different cultures have their traditions and ways of doing things. It’s all part of visiting another country and getting to know the people.
Oksana: Yes I totally agree, its makes the experience all the more rich.
Eddie: So is there an equivalent saying in Russia like “When in Rome”?
Oksana: Their most certainly is. “В чужой монастырь со своим уставом не ходят”.
Eddie: That isn’t a literal translation is it?
Oksana: No it isn’t. Literally it means: “don’t enter another monastery with your own rules”.
Eddie: Oooh I like that. Yep, this subject is really very important.
Oksana: It is, because things that are considered appropriate in one culture might be perceived as rude in another and vice versa.
Eddie: I know, like table manners in Japan are not exactly the same as in the USA for example!
Oksana: True, so if you go to a foreign country, knowing about these differences is almost as important as speaking the language because language is just one facet of communication.
Eddie: Yes, it isn’t just about language when you think about it, it’s everything.
Oksana: Cultural differences between Russia and, for example, the USA are much slighter than, for example, between the USA and some Arabic countries, so people often tend to overlook them.
Eddie: That’s a very important point. All cultural differences are important no matter how slight they may be.
Oksana: Yes, differences do exist and it’s good to know about them, all of the significant ones especially.
Eddie: Let’s look at five different tips on what is good and bad manners in Russia.
Oksana: First, be gallant!
Eddie: Like a knight on a horse?
Oksana: If you like! This first piece of advice is for men.
Eddie: I’m all ears!
Oksana: Being chivalrous isn’t considered “sexist” in Russia! If you are accompanied by a woman and don’t open and hold the door for her to let her in, you are being rude.
Eddie: Quite right too!
Oksana: It’s also considered polite to get out of the car and open the car door for your female companion. If a woman you know is carrying a heavy bag…
Eddie: You should offer to help her!
Oksana: And if you ask a woman out, she’ll normally expect you to pay the bill.
Eddie: Oh that doesn’t sound too exciting. Can’t we go half each?
Oksana: Eddie! I thought you were a gentleman?
Eddie: I am, I was only joking. I’ll pay the bill and bring the flowers!
Oksana: You’re a true romantic after all!
Eddie: I am indeed! What’s next?
Oksana: Personal space.
Eddie: You mean how close people get to you? Also known as your “Comfort Zone”?
Oksana: Yes.
Eddie: That’s funny, I was reading about this just the other day on Wikipedia. It said that for the average Westerner our personal space is measured at about 25 inches in front and around you and a little less behind you.
Oksana: Question!
Eddie: Oh? Go ahead.
Oksana: Why were you looking up personal space?
Eddie: I am full of useful information!
Oksana: OK, I think I’ll leave it as I’m not sure I want to know more!
Eddie: So do Russians not adhere to this?
Oksana: Well, let’s just say you should prepare yourself for an invasion of your personal space!
Eddie: Yes, though they aren’t being “rude”, are they?
Oksana: Absolutely not, it’s just a matter of different perceptions about what is deemed acceptable.
Eddie: So as a general rule, Russians need less personal space than westerners?
Oksana: Yes, and this is often source of discomfort for foreigners in Russia. When people stand or sit very close to you on the bus or on the metro, they are not being deliberately offensive; it’s just a cultural thing.
Eddie: So the same must apply when you’re on the bus and you take up more than one seat?
Oksana: Yes, other passengers will probably be annoyed and tell you to move.
Eddie: So no putting your bag on the seat next to you.
Oksana: Absolutely not! That is also considered rude unless the bus is virtually empty.
Eddie: Well, quite right too. That almost goes back to a few decades ago in the West. A lot of people say we have lost a lot of mutual respect.
Oksana: Actually you’ve hit on a good point. In the same manner to what you’re talking about it’s considered polite to give your seat to elderly people, women with small children and pregnant women.
Eddie: Yes, and so you should.
Oksana: And if you fail to give your seat, other passengers might angrily tell you to do so!
Eddie: That’s pretty cool actually!
Oksana: If you are standing in a line, you should keep close to the person in front of you.
Eddie: And it’s perfectly feasible that if you leave too much space in between you and the person in front, the people behind you will think you are not part of the line, ignore you and just walk ahead taking what was your position in the line.
Oksana: That is extremely likely to happen!
Eddie: I’ll be paying attention at all times.
Oksana: Good thing to keep in mind.
Eddie: What’s next?
Oksana: Giving gifts.
Eddie: To Eddie!
Oksana: Not quite. Russians probably spend more money on gifts for other people than they spend for themselves!
Eddie: Yes, I know about this, gifts are used to show gratitude, respect or affection.
Oksana: That’s correct. If you are planning to stay with some friends in Russia, you should buy a small gift for everyone in the family.
Eddie: Oh really? Every person?
Oksana: Well, they are all welcoming you to their home and hey, in a sense their home is their personal space, and you’re invading it!
Eddie: True. And anyway, it’s nice to give gifts.
Oksana: Is that supposed to be a hint of some sort?
Eddie: How come you always catch me out?
Oksana: It isn’t THAT difficult Eddie.
Eddie: Oh well, back to the giving of gifts.
Oksana: It’s particularly rude to arrive at a birthday party without a gift. A bottle of wine won’t do the trick!
Eddie: That’s true actually, it doesn’t show a lot of thought does it. Take something else if you’re going to take wine.
Oksana: Absolutely. In addition to this, it’s also common to buy a small present like a box of chocolates for your teacher at the end of the course, or other people you feel grateful to- a doctor who operated on you, a neighbour who had been watering your plants.
Eddie: .... a colleague you have doing podcasts with...
Oksana: Exactly.
Eddie: You agree?
Oksana: I do and I’m looking forward to what you’ll be giving me!
Eddie: That one back fired! OK, what’s next?
Oksana: Phone calls, don’t expect the politeness you may be accustomed to.
Eddie: People are rude?
Oksana: Well, they don’t think they’re rude, they are just very efficient.
Eddie: Can you give us an example?
Oksana: OK, imagine that you met a gorgeous Russian girl..
Eddie: I’m already interested!
Oksana: ... and by stroke of luck she gave you her phone number!
Eddie: It would be stroke of luck if she gave me her number!
Oksana: You dial it but it’s Katya’s mother who picks up the phone.
Eddie: uh oh!
Oksana: No, it’s OK. You ask politely if Katya is at home, and the reply is “нет”. Naturally, you are expecting her to ask if you’d like to leave a message.
Eddie: That’s right, so Katya would know that I have chocolates!
Oksana: But all you get is an unpleasant silence that seems to last for ages…
Eddie: That seems awkward!
Oksana: Well, in Russia in isn’t common to ask if you want to leave a message.
Eddie: It isn’t?
Oksana: As a norm, no. You could come across a very polite person who would, but such people are rare.
Eddie: So essentially if you want to leave a message, you should say so.
Oksana: And that is perfectly fine. Remember, be gallant!
Eddie: Got it!
Oksana: Generally, Russians on the phone may sound abrupt and even rude.
Eddie: But that is just us being used to our way of doing things. You really mustn’t take it personally, it isn’t because you are a foreigner, it’s just the way they are, even to each other!
Oksana: That is exactly it. What is the last cultural tip?
Eddie: Keep your feet on the floor!
Oksana: Ah yes, and this isn’t referring to being grounded after you become rich and famous either.
Eddie: It’s considered very rude to put your feet on the table or generally up anywhere. This posture, which is just perceived as relaxed in the USA or perhaps elsewhere, should be avoided when you are in Russia.
Oksana: Absolutely. Sit properly. You shouldn’t rock on your chair either.
Eddie: When I was at school we all sat back rocking our chairs.
Oksana: And not paying attention?
Eddie: I am not admitting to anything!
Oksana: Ok. These five points will put you in good stead not only when you visit Russia but also with Russian friends, not to mention, when you call your Katya and want to leave a message!
Eddie: Yes, these are very important and not just casual points, they are a very significant part of Russian culture reflected in people’s behaviour in public and when interacting with each other.
Oksana: Yet again, RussianPod101.com gives you the complete Russian experience for you.
Eddie: Ok, thanks for being with us for today. Oksana, I'd like to share a study tip a listener shared with us.
Oksana: Ahh, you're talking about the student who uses just the conversation tracks to review the lessons.
Eddie: You got it.
Oksana: Yes!
Eddie: Yep a listener of ours listens to each lesson several times,
Oksana: ...then afterwards, gets the conversation only track from our site.
Eddie: She then listens to them on shuffle again and again. She created her own immersion program using RussianPod101.com.
Oksana: This is a great idea. Please give it a try and let us know what you think?
Eddie: Okay...
Eddie: Take care and until next time, goodbye.
Oksana: Пока - пока!