How Russians changed my life: Lucia from Italy

Lucia Bellinello.

Lucia Bellinello.

Anastasiya Karagodina
If you are planning a trip to this country, get ready to open your mind!

Direct or connecting flight? Single or multiple entry visa? Will you visit only Moscow or also other cities? Among the many questions you might be asked during the organization of your trip to Russia, there is one that no agency will ask: are you ready to have your life changed forever?

Well, it is true that Russia is a mysterious country, but it is also true that some people who you’ll meet will surprise you and make you question stereotypes… changing your life forever. As it changed mine. 

You grow fond of winter                                                   

“Winter is coming soon. And you will see, it will be amazing.” These words turned out to be a significant prediction for me. How could such cold weather please me in anyway? The frozen hands and feet, the weight of heavy winter clothes… But Ada, my roommate in obschezhitye (student dorm), was right. Winter in Russia is full of magic. 

She never realized that she was the first person who changed my new life in Russia: she showed me the secret beauty of winter and snow. 

She was able to destroy my preconceived notions and I grew fond of snow. Winter is the time to dust off the old cozy winter coats, to enjoy winter games and intimate evenings with friends at home.

Your sense of distances changes completely 

In Russia, distances are longer: when you consider the vast distance between Moscow and Vladivostok, a city of 1,000 km away (for example Izhevsk from Moscow) isn’t considered far, explained my friend Sergey when he told me that he was born in Tomsk in Siberia. This concept of distance was new to me and helped me a lot in my next trips. 

You appreciate a 'No,' and learn to be more direct 

We usually don’t focus enough on the importance of the word, “No” refusing without fear of offending. Declining an invitation without inventing excuses can clarify your position without going through the filters of protocol courtesy and false cordiality. 

Once I proposed my friend Masha to go to a concert. Her answer shocked me: “No, I will get really bored because it isn’t the kind of show that I like.”  I was stunned to hear such an ability to decline an invitation quickly and honestly. 

Why invent excuses like, “I’ll be busy,” or “we’ll see,” without any enthusiasm, if you can simply answer honestly? Russian people are very direct, leaving no space for misunderstandings. 

You see every situation from a different point of view 

One night I nearly spent the entire time asking, “Why?” Why do you expect that your boyfriend opens the door for you and holds your bag? Why is the concept of privacy so relativized here? Why don’t you think it’s normal to share the bill with a man at the restaurant?  During that night of chit-chat and chamomile tea, my friend Dasha showed infinite patience, listening attentively to my questions and kindly clearing all of my doubts. 

She was opening a new world for me, revealing the essence of the Russian soul. 

At that moment I started to apply my “theory of relativity” to every situation, contextualizing in order to understand and “decode” the Russian mentality.

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