Saturday, September 12, 2015

7 American habits I gained when I moved from Russia to US.

1) Say 'Hi' to everybody and even wonder 'How are they?' If you plan trip to Russia,  don't expect people be nice to you on the street. Always remember, it is cold in Russia, so every unnecessary muscle move can lead to keeping energy away from keeping you warm :). Jokes aside, I learned to smile to strangers and engage into small talks with nice ladies in the supermarket (which here is grocery store). And I myself recently found it so rude when a guy at the church didn't want to shake my hand when exchanging peace.

2) Dress comfortably when I go to run small errands in the neighborhood. I would not say I was a fashion queen when I was living back in Russia, but every time I went to my supermarket without my make-up I felt like I was conceiving a crime. Because exactly the day you feel lazy to do it, you will meet half of your school reunion in that exact fruit section of the supermarket. Here I enjoy going to the nearest small movie theater in my sweat pants, so I can almost lay comfortably in the chairs. At the end of the day, it is dark during the movie anyway, right?

3) Take food home from the restaurant. It is normal here in US, and every waiter seeing you with a half-finished meal will offer you the box to go. But it is something unusual elsewhere. If you were to try it in Russia, you could get different reactions: in best scenario they will have some kind of bag, but they will look at you like you are cheap, in the worst they will surprisingly answer that they don't have such thing. Portions are so big in US, that I am a happy adopter of this new habit to take left-overs in order not to over-eat and instead enjoy nice meal the next day at lunch.

4) Drive super safe. I am not sure about the exact definition of super safe but being with the belt even sitting behind the driver is one of them. Another great thing is that people generally observe the rule of stopping at the STOP sign and letting go first the first car that reached the intersection. You would never expect so much patience in my city in Russia. It is a metropolis and everybody is rushing trying to squeeze in at every possible opportunity . Of course people would say the same about NYC cab drivers, but let's put this in perspective with the rest of US.

5) Order almost everything in the Internet. It is just so convenient! Return policy in Russia is much stricter, so in my whole life, I did it just few times and mostly with books (where you know exactly what you are buying). I love walking in stores and I still don't buy cloths online: I need to try them several times, look into the mirror and annoyingly ask advice to my friends for the 10th time. But I do buy online all other items: starting from a specific shampoo brand, which I would otherwise waste time looking for in the store, till umbrella for the shore, for which I can read reviews right away. And we never had any troubles with delivery, even after we moved to a building without concierge.

6) Give big tips. American would probably just say "give tips". Again when you plan to go to Russia, you should know, we give tips only base on the service. It means that waiters have their salary, but if they are good they also have nice tips. So I feel like they really try and I always highly appreciate great service. In US I gained the habit to give a good percentage for the tip anyway. So, if they are nice with me, I give a very big tips. 

7) Try to give back. I am still not that perfect and I cannot spend hours for volunteering work, but as here there are many more opportunities to give back, I try to do so. It is easy to do at Church, as Churches always have lots of great missions and they also need working hands. You can easily find volunteering opportunities online. I asked my church community and helped at the local school and at dinners for homeless. Also now I am more open to give some money to some soccer team girls, who are trying to participate in some kind of regional championships.