Throughout my travels as being a hockey agent I have been fortunate to visit dozens of countries. And the question I get asked over and over is HOW IS RUSSIA?
Generalization of the former CCCP would be the Sexiest Women, Vokda, Guns, and Oil. But that doesn’t at all cover Russia one bit. It would be like saying Canada is all about bacon, maple syrup, hockey and Anne Murray.
To start off, and this is only my opinion and observation, Russia is kind of like the Wild Wild West in some way but still with lots of Military everywhere you look. Train stations – Airports – Hockey rinks, you will always see a military presence, and don’t get me wrong I do not mind it however some people are worried about the military being just about anywhere a large area of population is. Oh, and getting a Visa to travel to Russia is not an easy task so hire a professional company in Ottawa or Toronto to handle the details.
Now to start with some real small issues that you would find different about being back home. Finding ice for your drink is difficult. Local people tell me it is because they feel the ice will water down their beverage of choice. When at the airport I approached a blonde woman for a taxi and she just looked at me like an idiot and basically said WHAT DO YOU WANT? So I scrambled to my pocket to pull out 1500 rubles (30 dollars) for my one hour cab ride. Plus there are very few,if any stop signs, you just don’t see them anywhere.
Unless you are in a major city such at St. Petersburg you will not find English being spoken in many places, except nicer hotels and perhaps some restaurants. Then again if a Russian comes to Canada how many places will have Russian speaking staff?
Having a Mexican lunch in a city called Vladivostok with some American and Canadian hockey players they summed it up really well. People don’t smile often and overall you get the impression that most people are gloomy or morose.
Women of all ages really dress to impress with the latest fashion trends and the men are perhaps not really as interested in being on the cutting edge of fashion.
You do get the impression that Russian people are far more educated than North Americans and they are very informed for example on the US Election. Most people are anti government and mostly say Democrats overall as the division in income is so different with really no middle income families.
Interesting point University is free in Russia. Therefore most people do have a degree of some sort. And they will have a very defined degree not a general degree.
Perhaps a bit of a shock is most people are not very religious as say American’s are. However they have more solid old school family values that we have.
And for the US Election most Russians that I have spoken to find it very funny and overall sad as well. Putin has a current 88 percent approval rating so that speaks volumes.
To close this one common comment you will get when asking a question about the country or a situation the local people will always say to me "THIS IS RUSSIA".