Day to day life in Russia and emigration

What is day to day life like in Russia?

Despite your imagination may create snow hills up to the 3rd floor and stray bears in the streets, actual Russian daily routine doesn’t significantly differ from Western life style.

Since Moscow is the only good place for making money, it’s terribly overpopulated and people have to wake up very early to reach their workplaces in time. One-way road may take up to 2 hours. This includes sub-urban train, car-driving from railway station to subway, subway itself and finally afoot stroll. Double salary in comparison to provinces compensates these tortures.

State offices usually work since 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Private – with 1 hour forward shift. Stores open at 11 a.m. and close at 8-9 p.m. Most jobs provide 30-60 minutes for a lunch break.

After a work people return home to make a dinner (they don’t visit restaurants often). Then they have free time and spending it depends on a person. Some play with kids, others have a beer in front of TV.

Friday is considered as a drinking day among clerks and laborers. Since they don’t need to wake up early on the next day, they can afford having alcohol in the evening. They gather up in companies and go to bar or stay at someone’s home.

Saturday and Sunday are days for family business. It could be a barbecue in recreation, dacha, cleanup or whatever.

an_ordinary_dayhow other countries see Russia

What are Russians’ favorite countries?

The most popular countries for vacation are Turkey, Egypt and Thailand because of the best ratio of price to quality. These countries fit good if you want to have sunbathes at a sea, proper service and nothing more.

For traveling Russians prefer Europe due to its nearness and rich cultural legacy. I suppose, France and Italy are one of the first in any traveler’s list.
North America and Asia are less popular, while South America, Africa and Australia are almost forgotten.

Do many Russians want to leave their country or are they happy where they are?

The majority of Russians have never crossed USSR’s borders. Since they’ve never seen any examples of another life, they are fine in Russia. I don’t mean Russia is bad or worse than other countries, I want to say, most people just don’t reach the point of comparison and selection.

Some Russians believe that West countries are way better and aspire to leave Russia. Eventually they fulfill their dream and get citizenship in a foreign state. Then they begin to show off with their brand new life in an “elite” country, but start to cry and complain after the 3rd shot of vodka IRL. Of course, some are happy abroad, but in my opinion, the country will be alien for them forever and they’ll be the 2nd class people.

i_wanna_leavepiglet Pyotr (Peter), the symbol of Russian emigration



Anton Chekhov

I’m often asked to recommend Russian literature.
I’d like to reveal you a famous writer Anton Chekhov (1860 – 1904). I don’t want to rewrite an article from Wiki, so if you want to read about him, you’ll do it there. I’ll just say Chekhov was a great dramatist. For example, here you may see his reputed short stories: As for me, I was impressed by story №154 “The Bet”.
Yesterday I read one of his stories and I liked it, but I didn’t find it in the list. So I’ll translate it.


Anton Chekhov

“The Conversation Between the Drunk Man and the Sober Imp”

The former official of quartermaster’s office, retired collegiate secretary Lakhmatov was sitting around a table and drinking the 16th shot while pondering over brotherhood, equality and freedom. Suddenly an imp appeared behind the lamp… But don’t be frightened, dear reader. Do you know, what an imp is? It’s a young man of nice appearance with mug black as a boot and expressive red eyes. Despite he isn’t married, he has small antlers on his head… Haircut a la Capulet. The body is covered with green wool and smells as a dog. A tail with arrowhead end dangles at the bottom of his body… Claws instead of fingers; hooves instead of legs. Lakhmatov became a bit confused after noticing the imp, but then he remembered green imps have a stupid custom to appear for all drunk people and soon calmed down.
– Whom am I honored to talk to? – he addressed to uninvited guest.
The imp confused and cast down his eyes.
– Don’t be embarrassed, – Lakhmatov continued. – Come closer… I’m a person without prejudices and you may sincerely talk to me… from the bottom of your heart… Who are you?
The imp hesitatingly approached to Lakhmatov and politely bowed with bending his tail under himself.
– I’m an imp or a devil… – he introduced himself. – I’m appointed as an official of special missions at the person of his Excellence director of Hell office Mr. Satan!
– I’ve heard of you… Glad to meet you. Take a seat! Would you like vodka? I’m very glad… What is your occupation?
The imps confused even more…
– Properly speaking, I have no particular occupation… – he replied with embarrassing coffin and blew his nose into “Rebus”. – Indeed, previously we had an occupation… We used to tempt people… led them astray… Between you and me, nowadays this occupation doesn’t worth a spit… The way of Good no more exists, there’s nothing to led people astray from. Besides, people became more cunning than we… Try to tempt a person who has studied all sciences in university, and went through fire and water! How am I supposed to teach you how to steal a ruble, if you have already obtained thousands on your own?
– That’s right… But you do perform something, don’t you?
– Yes… Our former appointment now could be only memorial, but we still have a job… We tempt ladies, prompt youth to write poetry, force drunk merchants to smash mirrors… But we don’t interfere in politics, literature and science for a long time… We understand nothing in these fields… Many of us cooperate in “Rebus”, some even quit Hell and entered mankind… These retired imps, who entered mankind, have married rich tradeswoman and now have excellent life. Some of them are lawyers, others publish newspapers, they are businessmen and respectable people!
– Forgive me an indelicate question: what is you salary?
– Our order keeps… – the imp responded. – The staff hasn’t changed at all… As before, apartments, light and heating are provided by the state… We have no salary because we are considered supernumerary and because an imp is an honorable appointment… Generally, speaking sincerely, life is bad, we are almost deprived… Thanks to people who taught us to take bribes, otherwise we all would demise. We make a living by this earnings… While supplying rations for sinners… well… I take some… Satan became old, he often comes away to see Zucchi, he doesn’t take care of reports…
Lakhmatov poured a shot of vodka for the imp. He drank it and got to talking. He told all secrets of Hell, unburdened his heart, cried and Lakhmatov liked him so bad that allowed him to spend a night at his place. The imp was deliriously sleeping in the stove. He disappeared towards the morning.

Memory and immortality

Hello, readers!
Sorry for no updates during the last couple of weeks. I took a vacation and didn’t attend at work, where I usually write posts.
As always, I’ll be glad to see your replies, questions and suggestions for new posts.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on memory and immortality. How are these two related? You’ll find out below.

According to wisdom I’ve got during my relatively short life, the only eternal things are memories. Everything dissolves: people and relationships, youth and health, money and hobbies. All except memories.These are your only treasures in old age. Sometimes you’ll be able nothing but recalling things from your past. That’s why you must obtain as much impressions as possible. They are the only true things in life. Only they worth your money and time to be spent on.
Impressions could be either positive or negative, it’s not that significant. The difference is that later you’ll recall bad memories as a challenge that you’ve managed to overcome.
Life is all about experience and impressions. They say, the worst possible thing in old age is a situation when you cannot recall memories or have nothing to recall or regret your entire life.

In my case I’m not very lucky in this field. First of all, I don’t like to travel. I’ve visited several countries in childhood and since that days I prefer to stay at home. So, I have much less impressions than other people. Nevertheless, it was said: wherever you travel, you always remain in the same plane – in the plane of yourself.
The second thing is my poor memory. At least, I think so. Well, it’s not sick. I suppose a doctor would say it’s a lower border of normality. Whatever. The only thing I know is that I forget things from my past. Either important or not. And it’s a pity, because it feels like a stolen item that you cannot retrieve. It was there and just disappeared. Wait, was it? Damn…
I don’t remember the most part of my life, entire years. My life isn’t that vivid, though. The first thought of myself that I keep is from age of 6 or so. Then I remember several scenes, perhaps 1 or 2 per year.
This is pretty sad, but it taught me to appreciate every emotion, impression and experience.

Finally we approach to immortality. Almost every person wants to live forever at least because of instinct of surviving. People are deathly afraid of death.
Mankind was searching for immortality as long as it exists, but they mistook it. When you attempt to save yourself for eternity, you focus on word “eternity” instead of word “yourself”. The truth is that no matter what technology you pick, you’ll alter yourself. Perception changes with age. Senior people perceive world in other way. It’s much faster for them and more boring. Once my 93 y.o. grand-grand-mother was asked: “How do you feel this world?” She replied: “I’ve seen everything, now it only repeats again and again”. She meant people’s life, their decisions, relationships, births and deaths. And such changes cannot be explained as a physical process like blocked vessels. As I said, consciousness alters with years. Mind becomes dumb and slow. Do you want to save THIS for eternity? A vegetable brain? No way.
Thus you have to save your personality and memories from you best age. And you don’t need a brand new 9000 Tb HDD for this. All you need is a book or any other tool for expressing yourself. Write down who you are, what principles do you have, what have you achieved, how do you perceive the world. And of course, describe your current impressions. This book will be a true copy of yourself. Anyone who opens it will find true You with clear mind and bright memories.

I believe, the greatest invention of mankind was neither fire nor a wheel, but a book and scripting, because it’s the only true and best way for becoming immortal. A book allowed people to live for thousands of years and it’s marvelous.

Several minor facts

Today I’ll overview some lesser things that don’t deserve an entire post.

Labor classes

On the first labor lesson we’ll take a big screwdriver
and a file and make a small screwdriver.

– a joke

First of all, I’ve already mentioned school labor classes, but didn’t explain it. Labor lessons imply simple manual work in elementary and carpenter’s or housekeeping work in middle school.
Labor classes are the only classes taken gender-separately. In the 5th grade girls begin to study housekeeping, sewing and cooking while boys move to workshop to machine wood and metal.


I don’t know much about girls’ classes, but the only thing I’m assured in is that their cooking is a guaranteed poison. For the sake of justice, most boys are terrible carpenters.


An ordinary workshop has several simple machines like lathe and drill. Every student has a workplace with bench-vice and instruments. Whatever they do depends on the teacher: from screw boxes to wooden hilts. Skilled students are able to create a useful chopping board or even a stool.


Labor classes are always funny and interesting. Almost everyone loves them. It’s easy time and you finally do something material.


Free (?) help for friends

Russian friendship is rather peculiar. Here many things are done by familiarity. If you want something with guarantee, better ask a friend or at least a familiar person.
If you pay blindly, you risk to have low quality goods or poor service. Indeed, if you go to premium class place, you’ll have a perfect treat, but you don’t visit only #1 stores, do you?
According to what I’ve heard, this relationship method belongs to Asia. And Russia has a light version of it. It’s way worse in the East.
So, people look for any clue to get a familiarity with someone they need. Or they address directly to the person that has some relation to the subject they’re interested in. And they’ll regularly ask him or her to do something for them. Like re-installing Windows, repairing electricity, giving an advice for picking a car… Friends are supposed to help friends for free, but these relationships imply a payback. Once you ask someone to help, later he may ask for your help and you cannot refuse. Yeah, just like in Godfather. Paying back with money is absolutely inappropriate and will be considered insulting.
This is how Russian friendship works.
Unfortunately, some bad persons tend to get profit at the expense of their friends. Then they could even blame a friend for their own failures. So you have to decide what request to accept and what to decline. Both options have consequences.

Mail order brides

Perhaps you’ve heard about Russian women who could be met online and agree to move to foreign country and marry in exchange for permanent residence. Well, this practice is almost gone in presence. It was popular in 90’s, when young females had no perspective in Russia (males could make a profitable but short criminal career). So their only way to have a bright future was to marry a relatively rich foreigner and leave Russia.
Nowadays for majority of Russian women cost of learning English outweighs possible profits from emigration, therefore they stay.
However, swindlers may pretend a pretty girl to suck foreigner’s money under pretense of plane tickets, etc. So, I don’t recommend to “order” a girl you’ve never seen IRL.
On the other side, women are in danger too. Sometimes they end up as a prostitute without passport in a foreign country.


Na zdorovie

A famous toast outside of Russia, but no Russian will ever pronounce it, because it’s incorrect both grammatically and semantically.
“Na zdorovie” literally means “for your health” and it’s a polite respond for gratitude:
– Could you pass me bread?
– Sure.
– Thank you.
– Na zdorovie.
In case of toast Russian can say “Za tvoyo zdorovie!” – “To your health!”

Ashberry gun

This thing comes from my childhood. It’s a simple but menacing weapon. It could be done very easy: all you need is a plastic bottle, a saw and a rubber glove. Cut bottle’s neck with the saw and slice a finger from the glove. Place the finger on the bottle’s neck and fix it with its own cap. Done!

ashberry gun

Now find a handful of any dense berries and put one of them into the glove’s finger. Pull and release. You’ll be surprised with power of this thing. It hurts even through thick jeans.
We used to play war games with ashberry guns and it was amazingly funny. Fortunately, nobody lost an eye.


Russian school system

Before the starting, to avoid a mess using phrase “to have classes” I will apply to terms:
“a class” – a solid community of students
“a lesson” – a 45 minute lecture for the class


People say Soviet school was one of the best in the world, and present Russian school is a mere leftover from original soviet model.

Most of Russian schools are free but indeed we also have private schools. Children graduate from kindergarten at the age of 6 and go to school of their neighborhood at 7. As I already told in Commieblocks post, almost every block possesses a school. And blocks are very small, therefore students are able to go to school on their own and schools don’t own buses to pick up kids somewhere.
Russian school education lasts for around 11 years. 1-4 grades are elementary, 5-9 are mandatory medium course and 10-11 are high school. All this students share the same building, but elementary has a particular floor.


The studying year begins at the 1st of September. This date is a holiday Day of Knowledge, but students hate to celebrate it. Education process is divided into 4 semesters and ends at the 25th of May. Students have holidays 4 times a year: 1 week at autumn and spring, 2 weeks in winter and entire summer.
Students come to school at ~8:30 a.m. to take 5 to 6 lessons, 45 minutes each. They visit school even on Saturdays. Usually lessons over at ~2:30 p.m. and students go home to do their homework, which is supposed to take around 1.5 hours.


A crucial distinction from USA school is that students don’t take lessons solely, but they always stay in a class. Classes are composed at the beginning of school tier. It means, people you’ve met at the beginning of the 5th grade, will spend 6 hours a day with you for the next 5 years. Swaps between classes are possible, but rare. Consequently, nobody has a personal schedule, but it coincides for entire class.


A class consists of 25-33 students of both genders, which is apparently excessively. Kids from elementary have a bound classroom and a single tutor, who teaches several subjects like basic math, Russian language and Russian literature. Medium school students visit different teachers who always stay in definite classrooms.
In case of extra students, some schools practice two shifts. I myself was attending at school since 12 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. for two years.

Schools don’t offer lockers to students and they have to bring all textbooks and exercise books in huge backpacks. Although students don’t have personal wardrobes, they have a common cloakroom.

The list of studying subjects is pretty wide. Usually students have about 17 courses per year.
An approximate list:
– mathematics (1-6 grades)
– algebra (7-11 grades)
– geometry (7-11 grades)
– informatics (3-11 grades)
– surrounding world (1-4 grades)
– nature study (5 grade)
– geography (6-11 grades)
– biology (6-11 grades)
– astronomy (11 grade) optional
– physics (7-11 grades)
– chemistry (8-11 grades)
– natural science (5-11 grades) optional
– ecology (8-11 grades) optional
– history (5-11 grades)
– social science (6-11 grades)
– basics of religions and ethics (4-5 grades) optional
– Russian language (1-11 grades)
– reading (1-4 grades)
– literature (5-11 grades)
– foreign language (2-11 grades)
– labor (1-4 grades)
– technology (5-11 grades)
– plotting (9-11 grades) optional
– physical culture aka gym (1-11 grades)
– drawing (1-2 grades)
– music and/or singing (1-7 grades)
– history of arts (8-9 grades).

To manage with such number of subjects (schedule changes every week) students have a special journal, which is simply called “a school diary”. Students fill forms with subjects and write down hometasks, while teachers set marks and comments with red pen. Parents are supposed to check diary at least once a week.
In contrast to USA, Russian teachers tell students to use pens instead of pencil to avoid erasing mistakes.

(click to expand) good student’s diary

(click to expand) sometimes it turns into an offline chat

Russian mark system is pretty simple. Totally there are 4 possible marks:
“5” – excellent
“4” – good
“3” – satisfactorily (poor work)
“2” – unsatisfactorily (in this case student has to try again)

People say, it’s much harder to cheat in Russian school than in American. Teachers are careful and strict. But on other hand, our classmates will never tell teacher if you have been seen cheating. Denouncing is a very serious blame in Russia. Looks like staying together against superiors is an integral part of Russians.