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Thread: Russian-American differences

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    Russian-American differences

    I was recently in the city of Kirov (Viatka) for 4 weeks.
    I noticed that Russian people NEVER say 'hello' to strangers passing by on the street. At least, not that I saw in my time there. A few times, when walking alone, I greeted a few people in a very mild fashion, by nod or a smile, and my greeting was always ignored. I mean this as NOT a negative criticism, but as an observation only. I should also say that I live in a part of the USA where this behavior is relatively common (that is, greeting strangers on the street), so I was most likely behaving in a culturally insensitive manner when I tried to 'transplant' this behavior to Russia.
    Conversely, when I visited people in their homes, they invariably went out of their way to make me feel more than comfortable. At every home I was treated as an 'honored guest', which sometimes almost embarrassed me.
    Every single person I actually visited with while in Russia was exceptionally (in comparison to Americans) gracious and kind to me. I came to greatly admire the Russians for their great generosity of spirit.
    Anyway, it is a cliche to say that people are basically the same all over, but, of course, it is also true. Still, the cultural differences I noticed were VERY interesting.
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    Re: Russian-American differences

    Quote Originally Posted by ronnoc37
    I noticed that Russian people NEVER say 'hello' to strangers passing by on the street.
    That's true for cities. In many rural areas, however, it is customary to greet everyone you meet, including total strangers. In bigger cities, like Moscow, that would be physically impossible.

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    Увлечённый спикер TexasMark's Avatar
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    Have not had the chance to visit Russia, but . . . actually, I think it has to do with density of population.

    My expericence - When I lived in NYC, I noticed that in Manhattan it is rare for people to give each other a nod hello, but if you get out in the outer boroughs you are more likely to be greated. Same is true in LA, where I lived for the last 7 years. Contrast this with Conway in rural Arkansas, where everyone says hello (and contrast that with Little Rock). The same was true when I lived in England, in London and Bath, and I've noticed the same thing in Africa and Asia. Didn't mean to make this a travelogue, but wanted to point out that the generalism of "high density" = "more guarded in relationships with strangers" seems in my experience to be true all over.
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    Re: Russian-American differences

    Quote Originally Posted by ronnoc37
    I was recently in the city of Kirov (Viatka) for 4 weeks.
    I noticed that Russian people NEVER say 'hello' to strangers passing by on the street.
    Jeez guys, could you explain to me why I should say anything to unknown people - i guess it means to disturb them - if I don't want to strike up an acquaintance with them? Don't you think it's stange to disturb someone without any reasons?
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    JB
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    If a stranger starts smiling and tries to talk to me I hold tight to my purse and walk past them as fast as I can (in Russia, America or anywhere!)
    Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

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    I think that's the same for anywhere. When im walking down the street most people stop and say "hey how are you doing" even if i have no idea who they are.

    When i am in Seattle, or new york, or orlando, or pheonix (man i've been around) i don't say hi to everyone on the street. It's pretty much common sense.
    Вот это да, я так люблю себя. И сегодня я люблю себя, ещё больше чем вчера, а завтра я буду любить себя to ещё больше чем сегодня. Тем что происходит,я вполне доволен!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogboy182
    I think that's the same for anywhere. When im walking down the street most people stop and say "hey how are you doing" even if i have no idea who they are.
    May be you should make a pretty look and say, "how you doing".
    Я танцую пьяный на столе нума нума е нума нума нума е
    Снова счастье улыбнулось мне нума нума е нума нума нума е

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    please correct me!

    Yes i have lived in russia for a long time but also in sweden which is famous for its supposed introvercy - with never saying hello to strangers, so perhaps it something of the cold north?
    or is it a universal europeean thing - i think not---please correct me!
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    BJ
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    Greeting strangers can depend on the circumstances. In Yorkshire, where I live, if you were out walking in the countryside it would be usual to say 'goodmorning' or 'hello' to people you passed. You would definitely not do this in the city. If I meet someone walking into the gym at the same time as me I would say good morning even if I didn't know them but I wouldn't greet someone walking into a shop. IWhenever I've been to America all of the above applies apart from the last observation - where greeting people entering shops is common practice.

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    DDT
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    JJs post is actually very logical. But I have to tell you that in my usual place of residence one is also expected to wave to oncoming traffic as you pass while driving at 65 miles per hour. Do they do that in Russia?

    In the cities I eyeball everybody I come near, when walking. Then again, I have seen people take one look at me, from inside their car, as I cross the street on the crosswalk in front of them, and immediately lock their doors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DDT
    JJs post is actually very logical. But I have to tell you that in my usual place of residence one is also expected to wave to oncoming traffic as you pass while driving at 65 miles per hour. Do that do that in Russia?
    If I drive at speed far beyond any limit and there's a cop ahead, oncoming traffic, having seen that cop, would signal me to slow down.

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    Sounds like a nice place to visit ( which I have plans for doing.
    Here in Roseville, if you greet someone on the street, they will very warmly greet you back, but about a half hour away in to downtown Sacramento, if you greet someone, you're likely to get attacked.
    I guess it's do to variations of trust. Here in this area, people are pretty lax with eachother, where in large cities, people who are very nice are often seen as up to something. I guess such thing may be true in Russia as well.
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    Re: Russian-American differences

    Quote Originally Posted by translations.nm.ru
    Quote Originally Posted by ronnoc37
    I noticed that Russian people NEVER say 'hello' to strangers passing by on the street.
    That's true for cities. In many rural areas, however, it is customary to greet everyone you meet, including total strangers. In bigger cities, like Moscow, that would be physically impossible.
    Of course it is physically imposible. That is true for evry part of the world not only Russia. In villages things are diferent.
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    JB
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    Are we so bored that we have to flog another historic thread ?
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    One does not want to, unnecessarily, interact with people
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    In ref to the original post, may i ask if you were walking down a street and it was filled with strangers would you say hi to them, or if the highstreet was teeming with people would you stop to say hi to everyone of them, also it could be down to a cognitve process, eg they have a set item to fullfill so to stop and say hi all the time would further delay that process, or my personal experience tells me that you dont say hi to strangers in the street cos you dont know what they might pull...

    not biting you, just sayin.
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    I just passed a group of young people in their twenties on my way home (in the U.S.) and one dude I've never seen before stretched his hand and said "Hi, how are you doing? I'm Drew." Looked pretty much like he was on a mission after being brainwashed by scientologists (not that I have anything against scientologists). I replied with "What's up?" without stopping or shaking his hand. I heard him lose excitement and say "Well, OK."

    Another time there was a stranger who said "How are you dong". I totally ignored him and he seemed to get angry asking for a "Hello" or a smile in return.

    That's a quirk of American culture as compared to Russian culture. It is indeed very strange for Russians. My conclusion for such situations: I don't know you. If I don't respond then I'm not interested. What do you expect from me?
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    DDT
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    In populated areas anywhere, I find that if a stranger stops you it is because he wants something, money, to save your soul or directions.

    I just came back from my usual three mile run and I have noticed that some people that I pass whlie running want to say "hi" to me. I just give them a nod, I don't need my breathing and concentration disturbed by having to actually speak. It really surprizes me when it is another runner. They must be so happy and want to say "hi" to me. I hate happy joggers. What's to be happy about when your running?
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    Quote Originally Posted by MasterAdmin
    I just passed a group of young people in their twenties on my way home (in the U.S.) and one dude I've never seen before stretched his hand and said "Hi, how are you doing? I'm Drew." Looked pretty much like he was on a mission after being brainwashed by scientologists (not that I have anything against scientologists). I replied with "What's up?" without stopping or shaking his hand. I heard him lose excitement and say "Well, OK."
    I bet that 9 times out of 10 if something like that happens (in the USA, I mean, I'm not sure about other places), they are either a religious group, asking for donations, or selling something. If they are that forward, I mean... That's what the door-to-door magazine pushers always do, try to shake your hand, give you a high-five, or anything to establish physical contact, I guess it's a good selling strategy or something... Creeps the hell out of me! I had to ask someone to stop saying "alright!" and then hold his hand up for a high five after every answer I gave to his stupid questions when he was trying to sell me magazines for three times their original value.
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  20. #20
    mike
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    Since moving to the northern United States (New England to be exact) I've noticed that passersby say "How are you doing?" and "How's it going?" as a greeting rather than a real question (i.e. they will say it in passing and then keep going). And if you actually answer the question with a response they look at you with a puzzled expression. The proper answer apparently is to repeat their question to them insincerely and then keep walking.

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