Everybody is already familiar with the numerous stereotypes about Russia, as well as which ones are true and to which extent. Vodka flows from all taps, bears walk on the streets playing balalaika and an AK-47 is under the pillow of every true Russian. All these “facts” eventually become just a joke for foreigners. In the end, everybody understands that Russia is not such a wild country, and even though almost everything is possible in Russia, animals are not able to play musical instruments even here. However, there is another stereotype among foreigners which I want to discuss. Russians do not smile and are all evil and unfriendly people.
Being Russian, I never really thought about it, and basically did not hear this opinion until I started living abroad. At the beginning of my stay in Finland I only communicated with Russians, but after some time I made some foreign friends. Later, entire foreign companies of friends, a foreign boyfriend and after some period of not talking Russian at all, I am trying to convince my compatriots abroad that I am absolutely Russian. They do not believe me, and say that I speak with an accent. Then, inevitably, the moment comes when you begin to see Russians from the foreigners’ side.
When I arrived in Germany for my student exchange, I was between the devil and the deep blue sea. I made some foreign friends again, but also got along with some Russians. Then, foreigners started to share with me their opinions on Russian students: “What’s wrong with this guy, why is he so angry? He hates me? He is so strange why he sits next to me!? “Such comments I heard about a Russian boy who was just serious and meditative. In addition to the incomprehensible sound of Russian language to foreigners they had an impression that the guy hated everyone and was preparing a murder plan. Once my Spanish friend sneezed and the Russian guy casually told her in Russian: “Bless you.” Not understanding the phrase, she thought he had insulted her!
So, that is how I saw my serious compatriots with a foreigners’ eyes. To some extent I understand their reaction, and indeed, Russian Russians do not smile! (But not because they are evil, JUST SERIOUS). Foreign Russians (like me) understand it and ask foreign foreigners to forgive our Russian seriousness.