Be prepared in advance
As for me, the sky above England seemed to be so much bluer than in Russia and sales assistants in the shops were most polite and showed great consideration for their customers. But that was nothing compared with the smiles and 'hello's' I received from passer-bys in the streets - except in London! This was a far cry away from the sullen faces that greet you in most Russian city streets.
Again, a far cry from the usual practice of putting your life at risk as you try to dodge from side to side with crazy Russian drivers bearing down on you with screeching brakes, blaring horns and wicked glaring eyes behind the steering wheel. On the whole, the driving style in England arouses admiration and is worthy of imitation.
So one can say that real English queues are different from Russian not only in shape but also by the general atmosphere that hangs over them. People in English queues keep a space between each other and are usually silent and look relatively laid-back. It seems that people came only to stay awhile because they have nowhere to go. That's out of character with our native queues, which are a suitable place for socialising as well as expressing negative emotions on wide range of issues. Wouldn't it be nice for Russians if a very simple portable queuing system could be introduced? The English people know which side is the 'right side' by the simple use of a few metallic posts and lengths of rope. The introductions of these would make Russian queues look more or less civilised.
Something for nothing
But life in Britain spoils her citizens and even more - it perverts their minds when dealing with broad consumer rights. Some cheeky customers can buy nice clothes for a special occasion and having worn them to a party, or whatever, can them return them back to the shop for a refund. They use such excuses that the item was an unwanted gift, wrong size or colour or poor quality. Some ladies make claims that after several months the seams have burst. Ladies, please, watch your figures!
A recent observation I made was: a couple had a meal in a pub, paid for the meal but then straight away complained to the manager about their dissatisfaction with the food or service. Of course, repayment of the meal is the lesser of two evils for the English pub in terms of reputation and loss of potential customers. However it wouldn't be possible, in Russia, to leave a restaurant claiming a refund for the already eaten beef stroganoff and drunk vodka!
Weather and clothes
Passing on from the topic of the weather sense, to the theme of English culture of dress and fashion. May I presume to surmise that proper dress culture does not exist outside of London? The idea of a so-called ' classical English style' that's adored in Russia seems to be no more than regular 'Soviet propaganda'. The average English person turns out looking rather poor and not smart at all. They call such mode of dress as casual. A set of clothes consists of un-ironed and saggy sports shirts - or even two as one short-sleeved one is usually worn over a long-sleeved shirt - plus trousers and, again, sandals with or without socks. Are the socks there maybe to make up the warmth that proper footwear would supply! I would call such a trend in clothing as 'unisex'. Nevertheless there could be an option for so-called 'high fashion' when a classical style black coat has been worn together with pink socks and white trainers. It's clear that there is some regional tendency:- the farther from London the more the British don't care how they look.
Russians take much notice of what they wear and are quite fussy over their appearance and usually dress well. If they come to England they would feel out of place in their smart clothes and would have to buy the 'uniform' of jeans, shirt and sandals to blend in. The English tend to wear these casual clothes for every occasion- to go shopping, to the college, to the pub, to walk the dog or even to go the theatre. So it's not a problem to look like an average British person but it could raise a thought - Am I being myself?
Sanitary facilities Theoretically I completely agree with the idea that while adapting to other cultures, it's important to be aware of traditions and customs and to be positive regarding everyday situations. On broader scale you should be prepared to change your habits. I have tried and have been successful on numerous occasions. But there is still one traditional thing I am not able to get over. This is the deficiency of mixer taps in bathrooms. No one can persuade me that it's better to have chained plugs for the sinks, and wash in dirty water, rather than have mixer taps and wash in clean running water, at the temperature you want.
British people isolate themselves from the rest of Europe, but having spent time visiting foreign countries surely they could appreciate the common sense of using mixer taps. It would appear that some simple achievements of civilisation have not yet been implemented. Once while staying in temporary accommodation I tried to show the obvious convenience of changing single taps to mixer taps by using a rubber tap extension. This was rejected as junk.
Probably Mikhail Zadornov, a Russian satirical writer, was right when he said ' our man' has developed out of poverty and 'their man' stagnated in wealth.
|Copyright ╘ 2004 by Valentina Walker|
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