Photo: Alexandre Ferreira

1.

A normal friend will bring you a can of Campbell’s condensed chicken soup when you have the flu.
A Russian friend will have their babushka make a giant batch of borscht for you and then deliver it to your house in a stockpot.

2.

A normal friend will study with you before university finals.
A Russian friend will give you all the answers to the exam questions as soon as the professor has left the room, whether you asked for them or not.

3.

A normal friend parties indoors during the wintertime.
A Russian friend takes you to drink vodka shots on a snow-covered park bench in -10 F weather.

More like this: How to piss off a Russian
4.

A normal friend apologizes and pays the fine when the police catch them illegally drinking alcohol on said park bench.
A Russian friend bribes the police officer, and then continues to down ice-cold shots.

5.

A normal friend will ask if you’d like a glass of water or juice or something on entering their home.
A Russian friend has already boiled a pot of tea and set out a plate of cookies and open-faced sandwiches in the kitchen.

6.

A normal friend will show you their suburban hometown and introduce you to their parents.
A Russian friend will take you to the remote, ramshackle towns where they grew up to show you the “real” Russia that exists outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

7.

A normal friend will take you to museums and monuments to teach you about their town’s local history.
A Russian friend will escort you to structurally unsound WWII bunkers and abandoned Soviet hospitals — remnants of the country’s tumultuous past.

8.

A normal friend will list some of their favorite poets when you express an interest in poetry.
A Russian friend will instantly recite an entire five-page Pushkin poem from memory, their voice undulating with emotion and their face smug with satisfaction. Finally, all those dreaded literature drills in elementary school have paid off…to impress foreigners.

9.

A normal friend will let you sleep on their couch for a few days, or even weeks, when you’re between apartments.
A Russian friend will lend you their entire apartment, moving back in with their parents for whatever time is necessary for you to find a permanent place to live.

10.

A normal friend will awkwardly look down and feel embarrassed when you unwittingly commit a cultural faux pas.
A Russian friend will call you out for being an uncultured American — eating your pizza with your hands, or wearing your gloves inside. And don’t forget to take your shoes off when entering someone’s home!

11.

A normal friend will go shopping with you when you find yourself in need of an extra warm winter jacket.
A Russian friend will thrust their aunt’s old fur coats and hats on you, insisting you look fabulous even though you feel like you’ve been swallowed by a Soviet bear.

12.

A normal friend will accept you if you identify as LGBT.
A Russian friend insists that you just haven’t met the right guy / girl yet.

13.

A normal friend will suggest that you visit a psychiatrist when you’re depressed.
A Russian friend will tell you shrinks and antidepressants are useless, and that the most effective recipe for happiness is vitamins and exercise.

14.

A normal friend will suggest going out to a restaurant for dinner.
A Russian friend will go grocery shopping with you for your favorite food and then make you a delicious home-cooked meal.

15.

A normal friend will greet you with the standard, “Hi, how are you?” and respond, “I’m good, thanks!”
A Russian friend wastes neither time nor smiling muscles on such meaningless niceties. The most common response to the question “How are you?” is normal’no — “normal.”

View 51 comments