I have a funny feeling that I’m going to return to the states as a total weirdo. Even though I haven’t experienced any sudden culture shock, I’ve noticed myself picking up some utterly Russian habits.
For one, I’m much more impolite. Here, smiles are not expected, and neither are words. One time I was on a cramped marshrutka (communal tax-cab) and my arm accidentally got in some woman’s way. She abruptly pushed my hand out of her way and gave me a look—not necessarily dirty, but certainly unfriendly. Although any normal American would have been offended by her rudeness at a clear mistake, I was truthfully relieved. We didn’t have to exchange a single word, and I knew exactly how to solve the problem. Since then, I’ve become rather unapologetic for my own actions. I don’t say I’m sorry when I step on someone’s feet. I don’t even feel obligated to hold doors for people behind me. It’s not malicious, it’s just the way it is.
I’m also going to stare way more than it is socially acceptable in the United States. On the 2 minute, 45 second elevator ride in the metro, you can stare at cute boys, ugly haircuts, couples making out, whatever your little heart desires. And you’ll be stared at back. It’s totally, totally okay. In the United States, stares usually indicate you wore something hideous or too revealing. In Russia, it’s probably just the product of boredom.
So here’s an I’m sorry, in advance.