This post is sort of an "anniversary" post. To commemorate the completion of our first year in Russia (which, by the way isn't a full 365 days because we're visiting the States the end of June rather than the middle of July), I thought it would be fun to tell you about some of the things that we've learned while living here. So, here they are in no particular order. Some are serious things, some are strange cultural differences, some are just plain silly; I'll leave it up to your brilliant minds to choose which ones you think fit in which category.
1. Sitting by an open window will make your back hurt the next day or give you cold, even in the summer.
2. Drinking a cold drink can give you a cold, especially if it has ice in it!
3. There is no such thing as personal space in public places.
4. Merging as a massive horde is actually faster for getting on an escalator than everyone waiting in a nice straight line.
5. Related to #4, if you leave space in front of you, don't get mad if someone takes it, that's just the way it is, you shouldn't have left it open.
6. Children's legs, ears, hands, necks, chins, elbows, etc. should never under any circumstances be exposed to any type of breeze, wind, inclement weather or even shade. Children must be bundled up within an inch of suffocation pretty much year round. The younger they are, the more bundled up they should be. It doesn't matter if it's 10 degrees or 70 degrees. Interestingly, this principle must again be applied once a person reaches the age of 65 or so.
7. The back pocket belongs to whoever can get their hand in it. The front pocket belongs to you. (thankfully we haven't yet learned this through personal experience)
8. Sitting in the sand box for more than 10 minutes will make you get sick.
9. Sitting on cold marble can lead to infections.
10. It's a good idea to take your own weights to the market when buying food. It's a good idea to check the food that is given to you to make sure that you are given the same thing in the bag that you saw on the counter.
11. Building relationships with people at the market can get you all kinds of great little perks.
12. Having a really cute kid helps with building the relationships.
13. People will scream and complain and fuss at you. When they realize that you don't understand what they are saying, they scream and complain and fuss (and probably cuss) even louder.
14. Telling someone who is fussing at you that what you are doing (and what they are fussing at you for) involves your child, will usually help them calm down, almost immediately.
15. Schedule? What's that?
16. There are lots of random holidays in Russia when everything shuts down. These usually happen at the exact time that you need everything to be open to pay bills or something. Since we didn't know about the unexpected and random holiday, we didn't know that we needed to pay the bills early.
17. It's important to watch where you step.
18. Smooth sidewalks are really nice--I look forward to walking on them again some day.
19. I can carry Isaiah in a stroller up flights of stairs. I have really good biceps for the first time in my life.
20. Just because there's a law against something, don't expect it to be enforced.
21. Police officers in Russia are very corrupt and the subject of many unkind remarks by almost everyone we know.
22. Just because a faucet handle has the color red on it somewhere, don't expect hot water to come out of it; same goes for blue and cold water. Oh, and just because one sink in your apartment dispenses hot water when the handle on the right side is turned, doesn't mean that the other sink will do the same thing.
23. Clean air is the most important thing in the world for your health; just ask anyone here. It's a pity that St. P doesn't have any.
24. Living on the outskirts of the city seems to have the advantage of people being a little bit nicer to you--I'm so glad that we moved!
25. It's amazing what a box of chocolates and some flowers can get you!
And if you've made it to the end of this long list, you might notice that there's not that much about language learning, which was a huge part of our learning over this past year. I wrote a little bit about that on our family blog, and I'd love for you to hop on over there and read that article, too, if you'd like.
Hopefully soon (maybe today!) I'll put up some pictures from our time in the States thus far. We've had a blast and have been blessed in many ways.