Russians and Americans
Americans often think that they have a better chance of finding a common ground with aliens from outer space than with "resident aliens" from Russia. Frequently Russian immigrants feel exactly the same way about their American co-workers, classmates and even spouses. A key to gaining and sustaining a mutual respect in cross-cultural relationships is an understanding of distinctive cultural norms of people from different countries. Without going too deep into historical and psychological aspects of typical Americans’ and Russians’ behaviors and traditions, let us look at a few dissimilarities between representatives of these two cultures.
In Russia, children are customarily expected to stay with their parents in the same apartment or live nearby, and parents are often very upset when children move away. This closeness arises not necessarily by choice, but by deep-rooted traditions and, later on, by difficulties in getting a separate apartments. Many older people feel that several generations should still live together. Also, Russian grandmothers feel that it is their duty to raise grandchildren; in many cases they are involved in their childrens’ live much more than parents are and they greatly enjoy it. In the USA it is customary for the younger generation to leave home right after high school, often moving across the country to start college or a new job, and live in his or her own apartment or house. The older generation is even glad, when this move occurs, and happily builds plans for a free life that starts when "children are out of the house."
Traditionally, Russian men are breadwinners, and wives are house-makers and full-time mothers. After the revolution in 1917, the majority of women entered the workforce, but people's mentality has not changed. All household duties are still considered a woman's responsibility, even if she works longer hours than her husband or makes more money. Lately, in the most "modern" families, husbands have started to take on more household duties, but in the majority of families, the situation remains the same as a hundred years ago. In the USA, if both spouses work outside the home, it is a norm to share responsibilities for housekeeping and for spending time with children. More so, it is quite normal for fathers in America to take care of children after work, even if their wives stay at home during the day. That is something unthinkable for a majority of Russian fathers.
In Russia it is very normal to visit friends or even distant acquaintances without calling them first to anounse the visit. So Russians might misinterpret a common American offer "to drop by anytime" and arrive at their doorsteps around mid-night with a bottle of vodka. This is not a sign of disrespect or craziness; on the contrary, it usually means that they have taken or interpret the invitation literally, and desire to “fuel” (meaning to drink alcohol) the growing...