Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Conversation with a Random Russian

I went down to Key Largo last weekend to work (yes, I know it is five hours away... the money is good). Much to my surprise and excitement, a new waitress was hired the day before I arrived... a Russian! I explained to her how excited I was to work with her, as I was learning how to speak Russian. Her response: "Good Lord, why?" I learned that she had to learn how to smile constantly in America (being a waitress, it's kind of a requirement), as "nobody ever smiles in Russia". That evening, I drove her home, and had a chance to speak to her about what she did in Russia, and why she came to America. Laura comes from a well-to-do family somewhere in Siberia. She went to school at the only university in her home town, which offered classes in economics, science (pretty much: fuels), and foreign languages. Because she hated math, and to study fuels (the primary industry of her region) would mean she would be stuck in Siberia forever, she studied English and German. Every summer, she would come to America to work. This, Laura said, was very rare: in Russia, if you are a student, that is your primary occupation. Over there, waitressing is a "temporary/permanent occupation", in that waitresses are girls who couldn't get into the university and are stuck waitressing the rest of their lives. Laura completed the five years of university study neccessary, because her parents wanted her to, and then was on a plane to America a week later. She waitresses because, even if her diploma would transfer to the С.Ш.А., she would be stuck being a teacher or translator, neither of which she is interested in.
One last piece of advice I recieved from Laura as far as Russia goes: if planning to travel to Russia for an extended period of time, stock up on clothes in America. Apparently, you can't even find jeans over there for under $200.

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