Visiting Moscow

DO’s:

BASICS:

102journeyman_003033_c37Bring Euro/US Dollars, but only the new or relatively new bills, otherwise they won’t be accepted for the currency exchange. It is better to have bills in denominations of more than 20. You can exchange them in most banks, simply find signs outside buildings that display exchange rates in bright red on electronic boards (they are literally everywhere). It is a good idea to bring an ATM/Debit card to withdraw additional cash, just be cautious as always and check the commission percentages! (some banks have insanely high rates of commission for foreign banks).

d3d3LmlubXNrLnJ1L2ltYWdlcy8zNDA3NS8zMS8zNDA3NTMxNTQuanBnRespect the metro . The renowned transportation system in Moscow can be truly inexpensive and foremost convenient. However, the metro can also set the environment of a pick pocketer. Do not expose money openly in the metro and be aware of the crowds (remember Moscow Metro is the busiest in Europe!). Keep your metro pass separate and close by. Don’t speak loudly or make a fool of yourself in the metro. Tip: do not stand at the doorway if you are not exiting at the next station as you will get knocked down by the crowd.

studak Watch out for your documents . Some will say always carry your passport and visa, others will disagree. But regardless, try to get an official copy of your passport and visa and always show that before showing the original. Always ask for the documents of whoever is asking for yours (avoid showing credentials to anyone unless they are official government workers). Make sure you have photocopies of your passport — take several. An official «Studenchesky Bilyet» or student ID card, will often suffice with the local enforcement. When going out, leave your passport and any cards (credit, insurance, ID, etc.) that you won’t need in a safe place.

055_10_2013 Always have a backup plan . Try to have a back up plan for everything. Have extra money hidden on you and in your room for emergencies; unfortunately, bribes can be a better option in desperation. Have a back up of local and international sim cards, that way you can always make a phone call. If you are at a bar late, save a little cash in case you miss the last train in the subway (it works till 1 am), you will need to take a taxi. Always have important telephone numbers with you on a piece of paper.

get_img In the right situation do not be shy . Be open to meeting all the Russians you can. Most Russians are truly warm and hospitable, despite their normal cold and pessimistic attitudes on the street.

When in doubt, ask. Russia is very strong on superstition and cultural rules. Ask your host about house rules when you arrive and make sure to follow them. If you do not know how to do something, simply ask. Additionally, Russians can be harsh or rude at times or oppositely they can beat around the bush. Try to avoid being condescending but be politely insistent when you are in need.

 

Behavior (the unwritten codes):illus-149

• Boys should be aware that in Russia, men still pay the bill on dates.

• If you are wearing gloves, take them off when you shake hands.

• Shoes: bear in mind that you will be walking a lot. I mean a lot! Make sure that when you buy shoes, they are built for comfort. When you visit a typical home, you will be asked to remove your shoes and wear house shoes. So buy shoes that can be easily taken off and on.

• If it is the winter make sure to bring warm and waterproof boots.

• Clothes: Pack dressier clothes than you normally would. Russian students get really dressed up for class (expect to see young men in full suits walking around your campus). Russians, especially women, pay attention to their appearance both at the market and at the club. Looking too casual identifies you as a tourist. Bring a long and very warm coat if you are traveling to Moscow in winter.

• Bring a gift if you are visiting someone’s apartment; chocolates or flowers (an odd number over 2 flowers and not yellow) are a good suggestion. (Even number of flowers is good at funerals only.)

• Ask Russians to take you shopping. People at the markets raise the prices when they see foreigners.

• Know that most young people have studied English and can help you if you get in a pickle.

• Be polite to the people who you see every day like the security guards, etc. A little bit of politeness can go a long way and offer you favors.

• Have some tea and sweets on hand. You never know when your Russian friends may pop in unexpectedly. Tea and sweets are a tradition to have for guests.

• Be hospitable: your friends will be offended if you do not invite them to be your guests. Try to see Russians at home and when invited expect to have a several course meal and drinks.

DON’TS:-v79vROtbnc

• Do not assume that everybody in Russia is ethnically Russian. There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Russia. When talking to Russians it is a good conversation started to ask about their «nationality» and their customs and traditions different from the Russian.

• Don’t use ATM’s in the metro or on the street. There are many scandals with cards and pin numbers being stolen with ATM’s at these locations. Use the ones in the lobbies of hotels that cater to western businessmen where the ATM’s are usually guarded and uncorrupted.

• Don’t take a taxi alone at night. Avoid a car if it has anyone besides a driver. Know where you are going and sound sure of yourself when negotiating a price with the driver. If in doubt order a registered taxi service like Uber or Gett.

• Don’t be afraid to decline vodka. You won’t offend anyone. Just make sure to have a religious or health excuse ready. If you do drink with Russians, know that the bottle is drunk until it is empty.

• Don’t be afraid to try new food, customs, words or ask for help.

• Don’t expect people to smile at you. It is not customary in Russia, especially in big cities, to talk or smile at strangers, so don’t interpret this behavior as coldness or unfriendliness.

• Don’t expect everyone you meet with to be on time. Russians have a different idea of timing.

• Don’t walk around alone at night in shady areas and attract attention. Albeit the center and lively areas are more than safe.

• Don’t expect to eat different foods in the cafeteria each day.

• Don’t stay in the dorm in your spare time. Your time in Russia will fly a lot faster than you think.

• Don’t expect European standards in public places like restrooms.

• Do not wear caps in the classrooms. This is unaccepted behavior at schools and any professor or teacher will be offended. This applies to hoods on hoodies as well.

• Do not hesitate to open your soul to Russians. You will be considered a real friend.

Moscow has numerous coffee shops, concert halls, dance halls, theaters and other forms of entertainment. If you are willing to look, you will always find something interesting to do.