I noticed quite a few differences between American culture and culture here:
1. Less organization. While getting on the flight to Khabarovsk from Moscow, my family and I had to push through crowds of impatient people. We were all going to the same place, but it was like a battle to see who gets to their airplane seats first. I felt like it was Black Friday at Walmart.
2. Food. Here I eat soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We drink tea with dessert twice a day, once after lunch and once after breakfast. Since refusing food is not polite here, we stuff ourselves sick. Our new diet is now mostly rice, meat, bread, and more meat. Vegetables and fruits are not a high priority. I miss peanut butter. I especially miss drinking water without having to boil it first and wait until it cools.
During lunch, my Dad and I discovered liver in our soup. It looked like the pig’s heart I dissected in science class. We pushed it to the side of our plate, but it was my Dad who got caught. My great aunt noticed he didn’t eat his liver, and even though he was practically done with his soup, she insisted that he have another bowl of soup. Before my great aunt noticed that I also didn’t eat my liver, I gathered it in a napkin and sneekily threw it away. I got away with it! Thank goodness I was not forced to eat another bowl of soup. I would have exploded.
3. Nothing’s free. When my Mom and I bought water at the local grocery store, we had to pay for the plastic bag to carry it in. That wasn’t that surprising. Later that day, my family and I went to the park along the Amur River. When I went to the Port-a-potties, there was a lady sitting at her desk right in front of them. She slammed her hand on her desk and told me I had to pay. I suddenly felt I was back in elementary school being forced to pay the school bullies to use the bathroom. ‘How do I know this lady didn’t just walk up to the Port-a-potties, plop down on her desk, and force people to pay her?’ I thought. I walked to my Mom, surprised and annoyed.”This lady won’t let me use the bathroom unless I pay her. Who does she think she is?” I said. My Mom laughed and only said, “Things are different here.” She paid for me to use the Port-a-potties without a second thought.
4. Females & Excersize. In the park along the Amur River, I went on a run to get some excersize. It occured to me that no women were running. That’s when I realized that it’s not exactly the norm for women to play sports here. As I ran past strangers, I assumed they assumed I was a Tom Boy. I felt out of place and even my great aunt and cousin thought it was a little strange that I’m into sports. I suddenly yearned to be home, running my normal route.
Gotta go. I’ve just been told it tea time. Again.
You are in a world apart from what you know as the norm. How different we are across the continent! Keep up the good work of hiding the liver stuff………and do not be afraid of running or showing off your good physical attributes, just look at the Olympics and see how intense the Russians are when it comes to female gymnastics! they are nuts about being first!!!!!!……..your observations are great. Keep up the comments. I think you inherited your father’s good journalism.
I miss you guys very much. I hope your journey so far is better than expected. Tell mom that the house is all good and hasn’t burnt down. I ran into the owner of Goff’s and he said he’s watching me, to make sure I don’t throw any parties. Ha thanks guys. Anyway, love you all & best of luck with liver soup. -Nina
Thanks for your note. We are in Vladivostok now and will post photos from Krasny Yar. Many people asked about you and I showed them your photo. Everything is well, although we are still tired from long over-night train ride form Luchegorsk. We are now with Dasha. She enjoys the city life.
Thank you Ihila! I like your story.Raisa
I have enjoyed reading your blog. The maps in your early entries were helpful to know where you’re headed. But I very much enjoy hearing about the details and impressions of a place and this post was really interesting. Looking forward to hearing more about your travels and the differences – and similarities – of daily life in this part of the world.
Thank you. Now that I am in a city for a few days, I can post more often. I have a lot of photos from Svetlana’s village and the forest.Tom
Ihila, it has been so interesting to read your posts and to see the pictures. What a trip you and your family are having!