Moving to Russia was the first time I’d ever left America at the naive age of 18 (barely). I had traveled a bit in the US but I really had no idea what to expect in the former Soviet Union, I was ready for an adventure and oh boy were their adventures waiting for me!
There are dozens of unique Russian customs, some examples are:
Not crossing our legs on the buses to avoid dripping melted snow on someone else, even in the summer its become the norm and now its just not done.
We used to practice our ‘Russian faces’, it seems to me an American thing to smile at everyone as you walk down the street but in Russia its just not done.
Russians only give flowers in odd numbers, I’d heard of the rule of odds in art composition but never as a cultural acceptance. I arrived home with 4 tulips when I was informed that it was bad luck, if I recall it had something to do with inviting death in? Alas do not fear, my clever babushka (bab-oo-sh-ka- grandmother, old woman) just took one flower and the other 3 were given to the family.Problem solved!
By far the most unusual belief we discovered was that of freezing your ovaries. Yep, ovaries freeze if you sit on a hard or cold surface without any kind of barrier. On one of the first days of sunshine a fellow teacher and I immediately ran outside to soak in the sun we’d been missing so badly when all of a sudden one of the school cooks came out yelling that we were going to freeze our ovaries and be infertile. We were confused at first since we did not have a hold on the Russian language, especially when its being yelled but we soon understood when she came back with a rug and a cushion for us to use.