Monday, September 8, 2008

"You're Becoming Russian!"

The head of my department proclaimed this today, with both admiration and glee.

I had just spent half an hour photocopying the comprehensive Cambridge English Exam (think the equivalent of the SAT in importance for most students who hope to attend a prestigious university). 

I walked back into the faculty room, only to be told by the head that the listening section was going to be changed--that a delivery would be made later in the day with the correct material. I would need to then make copies of it, discarding the previous listening section of the exam.

She assumed I'd be annoyed about having wasted time copying incorrect material, and having to copy yet more material, collating it all again.

My reaction? 

"Oh. OK, whatever." 

No emotional reaction whatsoever.

This caused some raised eyebrows. "Aren't you the least bit annoyed?"

Me: "No! I'm actually happy I hadn't found a stapler yet."

THIS WAS SOOOOO RUSSIAN OF ME! Learning to be content with little, assuming that something will be difficult, that things are never as they seem.


Natalie said...

oh that is so funny, I didn't know that was a characteristic of Russians. I would have been pretty annoyed myself. Good for you for not getting mad at something you can do nothing about.

Annie said...

I will have to keep that in mind! It is certainly the correct approach to have if you are going to try to adopt from Russia! Just expect that everything can and will go "wrong" - as in, not the way you wanted or expected...but don't let it bother you. It is the way things are supposed to be.

I wonder how the Russian attitude differs from "being like a dog." My kind, honest, brilliant, interested, happy father once said that he thought he kept his equanimity because he was "like a dog". Never looking too far ahead, accepting what happens as simply the "way things are", not to be worried over or distressed about. Delighting in the simplest pleasures. Relishing life.

Either attitude beats the constant moaning and groaning that seems so prevalent in the good old USA.

Tina in CT said...

Not the comment your American mom wants to hear!

Anonymous said...

I did not even get your comment at first! That what 29 years in US does to you. But than I got it. And that is why I do not like to deal with much concerning Russia - it is always troubles and in the places and ways you least expect.

Anonymous said...

I was just reading you blog about Katya's birthday party and remembering your other comments about birthday parties in Russia. It just downed on me what I find so strange about it. My experience is just a mirror image of yours.
I was 7 about 50 years ago and Russia was USSR than. And it was true at that time as well, the birthdays were important days, but the celebrations for small children were centered around families and only a couple of your best friends will be allowed to come. No fancy gifts or entertainment I could recall and definitely nothing in school.
When we came to US and I learned enough English to understand the small talk and birthday party routine - I was amazed how elaborate the tradition was, how many people have to be involved and invited, how many party favor bags to be made etc. And I just dug right in with some inventions and additions of my own - like a pinata party, the murder mystery and so on. And than I just got tired and kids grew too big to be entertained by adults and we retired to the old ways of just having a good dinner together for the birthday party when we can.
Good luck!

sandy said...

That sounds so familiar! After having spent much of my summer going back and forth to Russia for our daughter's adoption, reading your post was quite familiar. Learning to have no expectations and showing little or no emotion. I found that adapting while I was there helped me through parts of our trip that would have been intolerable here. I crowded in their mob-like lines, and I also sat on a park bench and enjoyed a warm summer evening. Both of which I never do here in CA.

Vivi said...

Huh, Russia sounds suspiciously like France!

I've been lurking for a while now, I like reading about your adventures!