Privacy in Russia

It doesn’t really exist! 

I’ve got people climbing through my window, going through my cabinets, taking showers in my bathroom; people walking into my room unannounced (like the dean while I was half naked and my room completely out of order) and trying to go through my camera, laptop and cell phone. People are just fascinated by what “the American” is using in his bathroom, what’s he got in his cabinets, the food he eats. I was at dinner once with the dean and his nephew’s family in Pochinok and the kids were just staring at me. They joked that now they can see how an American eats. All the while SORM is filtering through all the websites I go through, the emails I write and the stupid messages I have on VK and Facebook. (Yes, probably SORM is reading this and probably knows you are reading this too?) 

This has a cultural aspect to it. As I’ve heard many times “What is mine is yours”, which kinda expects “what is yours is mine”. I’m not the only one the above mentioned things happen to. I’ve seen Russians go into each others rooms without announcing beforehand or  knocking. They give a hello, how are you? and then walk out with some food, kitchen utensil or hw assignment. It doesn’t bother people because they know it’s a mutual and they can rely on each other in the future. 

While at a restaurant with some Russian friends, I have seen it happen quiet often that one person picks up the check. It gives a feeling that it’s an honor to be sitting at the table with your friends eating dinner and paying for the whole thing is worth it. This happens so often in Russia that most restaurants will not split the check even if you ask them. I’ve picked up the check and it feels good to help each other out. 

It is annoying seeing the dean, students, teachers or the grandmas who sit at the dorm’s front desk walk into your room and start a conversation with you while you’re in your undies laying in bed but it’s much better having people come in unannounced than not come  at all. 

 

 

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