College is a wonderful place to meet new people. Even in a small college like UVA-Wise, there are students from different countries. These students are some of the most fascinating people, and I am lucky enough to call a Russian student my boyfriend. In my mind, it is so nifty to learn about a different culture that is relatively unheard of in this small part of the world. Most Americans that are from here have German, Irish, British or Native American backgrounds, while Russian culture is much more uncommon. Here are a few things that I have learned from dating Russian.
The differences in the little aspects of life are so different. In Russia, many of the small town cars run on diesel gas, and diesel is a lot cheaper than regular gasoline. Here, we have the big diesel trucks that run on expensive diesel. Holidays are celebrated at different times, especially Christmas. In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7, and New Year's is the most celebrated holiday. In school, you stay with the same group of peers until graduation. There are so many other things that are different that this list could go on and on. Often, my conversations with my boyfriend are about how things are different in Russia as compared to America.
Russia is not what the American media wants you to believe. Russia is not just a frozen space filled with communists. Russia is the largest country in the world, so it has different climate zones, just like in America. They have political elections, so the people vote Vladimir Putin into office. They do not hate Putin, and some parts of the Ukraine joined back with Russia peacefully. The area where my boyfriend lives was part of the Ukraine when that event occurred, and the people there considered themselves Russian, so they went back to being Russian instead of Ukrainian. Surprise! I bet you did not hear that on Fox News or CNN.
The accent is fantastic. I never realized how much an accent adds to a person. The Russian accent is so different because it comes from the back of the mouth, whereas my Southern American accent is based largely at the front of the mouth. Russian linguistics contains more sounds than English linguistics, so sometimes my boyfriend says English words completely different from how I pronounce them. I love to hear him speak -- plus, I am an English major.
Dating a Russian has opened my eyes to an entire culture that I had no clue about. I have learned Russian words, aspects of culture and so much more from my boyfriend. I am truly grateful to have him in my life. Branching out into a different culture is one of the best decisions I have made, and I would encourage anyone to make friends with people from different countries. You never know what you will discover.