Dos and Don’ts

Take the Train: The Moscow metro is the quickest and cheapest way to get around town, which explains why it is usually packed. Be prepared for an invasion of your personal space on the crowded cars. While riding the metro is generally a survival-of-the-fittest affair, it is appropriate to give up your seat for an elderly person, a pregnant woman, or a small child.

Hospitality: Russian culture is famous (or infamous) for its hospitality. Guests—especially international guests—are treated like tsars. If you are invited to someone’s home, you can expect to eat and drink way too much. You will definitely be honored with a toast, and you might consider offering one yourself. “Cheers!” will not suffice; Russian toasts are often rambling and always heartfelt.

Dress to Impress: Russian women like to get dolled up for a night on the town. Expect plunging necklines, short skirts, and high heels—and looks of disapproval if you’re not suitably attired. Many restaurants and nightclubs practice “face control,” which means they won’t let you in if they don’t like the way you look.

Wait in Line: Step right up and stand close to the person in front of you. Otherwise, it will not be apparent that you are in fact waiting, and somebody will try to snag your spot. As the result, the “line” often disintegrates into a jumbled mob. Also, it’s not unusual for multitaskers to request that somebody hold their place in the queue and to reappear only when they are next in line.

Phrase Book

Hello. Pronounced Zdrástvuyte

How are you? Pronounced Kak delá

Goodbye. Pronounced Do svidániya

Please. Pronounced Pozháluista

Thank you. Pronounced Spasíbo

I’m sorry. Pronounced Izviníte

Excuse me. Pronounced Prostíte

Never mind. Pronounced Nichevó

What is your name? Pronounced Kak vas zovút

My name is... Pronounced Menyá zovút...

Nice to meet you. Pronounced Ochen Priyátno

Please help me. Pronounced Pomogíte, pozháliuista

I’m lost. Pronounced Ya poteryálsya/Ya poteryálas

Do you speak English? Pronounced Vy govoríte po anglíisky

I don’t speak Russian. Pronounced Ya ne govoryú po rússki

How much does it cost? Pronounced Skólko stóit

That’s too expensive. Pronounced Éto slíshkom dórogo

What time is it? Pronounced Kotóry chas

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