Today I was surprised by:
*How much people smile, how friendly and polite they are. I was especially surprised by how nice the security guards are who check our bags at museums, for example. I was taken aback by that and found it strange in comparison with sternness of Russian guards.
*English!!! I’m still not used to hearing it and wonder how long it will be until I get used to it. I still say “thank you” in Russian out of habit.
*I’m equally overwhelmed by all the content in English here. I see signs in English, hear English, see people reading books in English. I forgot how much I love English and I feel so overwhelmed and want to absorb it all because I know I won’t be around it forever.
*Women dressed very casually. Before I went abroad this seemed like nothing special to me. But after living in Russia where you rarely, if ever, see this, now I’m shocked by it. I saw one woman in a skirt, wearing trainers, carrying a backpack. The Russian part of me cringed, another part of me laughed at my new reaction.
Today I learned another difference between myself and my Russian friends. At breakfast we had different ideas about how much food we should eat. Having ordered a massive traditional English breakfast, I was unable to eat it all and had no qualms about leaving some of it on my plate. My friend, however, insisted on eating everything she paid for and said that in Russian you should clean your plate. In my experience, this isn’t necessarily a difference between Americans and Russian in general, but might be more of a personal preference. Still, I was surprised as this had never come up before.
*Many people outside in the parks doing a variety of activities. They all seemed so relaxed and didn’t have a care in the world. It’s definitely not an atmosphere I’ve ever found in Russia. There were people running, eating, sleeping, kissing, sunbathing, stretching, reading, etc. They all seemed to be in their own little world and no one bothered them or judged them for doing what they wanted.