What Makes Some Women so Uniquely Feminine?

The awareness of my own femininity struck me for the first time when I became a university student. After a cloudless childhood in a family of a marine scientist, where no such thing as femininity or sexuality had ever been mentioned at all, I suddenly found myself living in a student dorm and being surrounded with hundreds of absolutely awesome-looking girls, whose main goal in life (as it seemed to me) was to look

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Femininity is a skill that can and should be developed through life.

impeccable and beat the fierce competition for the three boys, who happened to be the only three male students in the whole Foreign Languages Department. As I watched how skillfully my fellow-girls could fight between each other for a time in a shower room and then immediately turn into innocent angels because a male species would turn up in the doorway, I admired their talents and thought to myself that I would never learn that science. A year later, by the beginning of my sophomore year, I caught myself practicing the “science”, too: I learned to do it so well that our male professor of phonetics (oh, he was as hot as George Clooney!) seemed to have a crush on me, which even made me the “queen of the bitches” for a while. It was the time when I realized that femininity, though probably being an inborn quality of some women, can and should be developed, fostered, fed, and never left to chance. Later, when I started working as a relationship coach, my numerous meetings with women gave me more awareness… and more confidence in my own femininity.

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A woman is not defined by the way she looks, but by the way she behaves.

I realized two things: first, that just being beautiful or knowing how to wear awesome make-up is not enough and second, as unusual as it may sound, that femininity and sexuality are quite different things. While sexuality is a quality that determines a woman’s relationship with other people, femininity is always a part of her nature, the basis of her personality, the trendsetter of her style, a substance contained in her blood. This is why a woman is not defined by the way she looks, but by the way she behaves.

I used to read many magazine articles suggesting tips about how a woman could look more feminine. Those advice were good, but to me they did not have enough value when taken just as they were. I believed that to become really feminine, a woman needed to change her whole personality. Here are a few ideas from my own diary, which I had when I was a student.

  • Learn to move gently. Avoid Arguments, work on your intonation and, of course, on your vocabulary.
  • Do not swear. Never.
  • Be cool, but don’t be baited into arguments by people who can’t respect you. Be mature enough to know when your presence is needed somewhere.
  • Soften up and speak Softly. What can be more feminine than a girl who cares about the way other people perceive her? Learn to carry yourself with dignity regardless of who you are talking to.
  • Be ready to face the fact that when you bring yourself to the level of a man, you will be treated like a man. A classy lady can always find ways to express herself with words that don’t offend others.
  • Be yourself and love yourself for who you are. Just live up to your own expectations. Remember, that all choices in life are yours: you are the one in charge of choosing which lifestyle is the right one for you, so it’s only your concern; and, of course,
  • Read, learn, grow! Take every opportunity that comes. When there is no opportunity, create one! Be persistent, but not aggressive; be strong, but not sharp; treasure harmony in everything you do, say, or think.
  • Your femininity is not defined by what you do or how you do it, it is defined by the way you relate to other people and to yourself. It reflects your attitudes to learning and developing as a mature, reasonable person. It reflects your kindness and your compassion.
  • The way you think and act will always echo back to you. For that reason, a woman should not just look feminine, she should really be supportive, positive, and loving to everyone around. Isn’t it a natural part of female nature? By showing people that she cares for them, a woman sets up the ground for what she believes in.

So, I guess, the solution is simple, yet it takes lots of effort to reach. Femininity cannot  be drawn on a woman’s face with the help of lipstick and brushes, a woman needs to work on her personality first, and then skill up with make up or take care of her hair, nails, heels and purses, because appearance only works to support our self-awareness and self-recognition, not the other way around.

Happy Relationships: Who Are The Lucky Ones Who Have Them?

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Really, what are the “components” of a happy relationship which make both partners so satisfied with each other? At the first sight, they seem difficult to identify, because all couples are so different, but if we look at the couples who have been together for quite a long time, we can see some common traits. Here, look at these signs of a stable, long-lasting relationship:

1. Complete openness in commmunication. We feel happy when we have someone to share our most sacred dreams with. We feel even happier when we can share our feelings and receive positive emotional response in return. The peak of happiness is to know that your partner really understands and really cares about you. Openness in communication means trust; when practiced continuously, it makes people more attentive to every little detail of each other’s life, and finally, both people realize that they ae very comfortable with each other, because nothing is left unsaid.

2. Feeling free to have your own life and allowing your partner to have theirs along with being in a relationship is a good way to stay happy together. Again, if trust each other and there is nothing to hide, why not let each other have some time for themselves – meeting old friends, doing a hobby, or just being alone with themselves for a while. It is great – isn’t it – having your best friend always at hand, but being free to say, “Listen, I’d like to meet my old friend for a glass of beer this friday after work, don’t you mind?” If both people in a relationship have lives of their own, such question will never cause a problem.

3. Most of the quarrels and emotional discussions between couples occur because of trifles, and afterwards, we always feel sorry the topic had been brought up at all. The worst thing here is that every quarrel leaves a trace in the minds of both partners. On the opposite, a couple of people, who have learned to calm down and restrain themselves being involved into unnecessary bickering, always win. This is a difficult one, I know. But at least trying to overcome it would not hurt anyone.

4. A very good way to remain very close to each other is, in fact, very simple: develop a habit of tenderly touching and hugging each other. Do this yourself at least once a day and always return the tenderness of your partner. If he/she approaches you for a hug, never turn away, let them kiss or hug you even if you don’t feel like doing it at the moment. In the end, this is your dearest person, it is like two parts of you which simply live in two different bodies. If it helps, you may take it this way.

5. Another important thing is to never let your sex life cool down. You should never stop to experiment something new, and again- be completely open with each other about your desires, no matter how unusual they may seem at the first sight. A good couple always comes up with a way to compromise and come to mutual satisfation.

6. Being ready to hear what your partner is trying to say is a core thing in every relationship. Many people seem to listen, but only some can really hear what their partners are trying to say. Learning to hear is not impossible, just geve it a try again and again.

7. Surprise each other. Always surprise each other with little things, by doing something with your own hands, by being inventive, or by remembering about little daily chores and doing them for your friend, by making little presents of funny and nice confessions – anything you can think of. This will help you “refresh” your relationship every time.

There may be more things to think of, but finally, it all goes down to being completey open and sincerely caring for each other.

How Not To Spoil Your St.Valentine’s Day

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Believe it or not, but science warns us that St.Valentine’s Day celebrations can ruin relationships for couples, rather than boost them. Statistically, the risk of breaking up a week before or a week right after this holiday is 2.5 times higher than in any other time of the year. Well, the explanation to this is quite  obvious: couples have high expectations, which may not come true, and then the risk of breaking up becomes a lot more probable. How can you avoid the risk?

  1. Do not get enticed by any last-minute ideas of presents or celebrations. If you have been thinking it over for a while and finally came up with something, but still feel a bit uncertain about the gift, the gift you already have is probably much better than an idea suggested by a friend during a lunch-break, because that guy has a different woman, and he probably knows her well. Just pick up something that your friend will certainly like, because he (she) has always liked it.
  2. Try to avoid very big arrangements, big expenses or anything that would look really “not like usual you” to your partner. Whatever you prepare for them may excite you, but equally, it may freak them out a little bit.
  3. You should not surprise your partner with super sexy ideas like turning up naked or anything that you had not practiced before. Too much of surprise may end up in disappointment for both.

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4. Do not make serious holiday arrangements if February, 14-th happens to be your first date. On the very first date both people should remain themselves, be attentive to each other, and try to move on slowly until they get to know each other really well.

5. On St.Valentine’s Day you simply have no right to forget things! It will kill your partner if you kiss them and say, “Oh, damn, it seems I have left your gift at home!” Do NOT forget anything if you don’t want a break up.

6. You’d better NOT give your partner a Valentine’s Day card. It may look a bit cheap. If you care really much for your dear friend, make them a really nice present, or simply be lovable, attentive, and charming. Giving your partner a card is not a way to display any of these three qualities.

7. Try not to burn your holiday food and if you count on having a romantic dinner in a restaurant, all arrangements must be made well in advance and everything should work well there.

8. Buying very extravagant gifts, as well as making some personal gifts (like underwear, for example) is risky. Just leave this for some other time. Buy something nice for your friend instead – something that you are sure he (she) will appreciate.

And the last suggestion:

9. Be really charming and attentive to your partner on this day. This is the key to real romance. Both, men and women love being taken care of, so why not give this pleasure to them and live this whole day just for them?

Wishing you good luck for this coming holiday!

 

 

Where Can I Practice My English Skills?

Где можно получить практику общения на английском?

Для желающих регулярно общаться на английском языке: ниже в этой статье – небольшой, но вполне достаточный список интернет-ресурсов, которые позволят вам:

  • зарегистрироваться на международном сайте и создать новые знакомства с англоязычными пользователями
  • регулярно общаться по-английски, как письменно, так и устно (некоторые ресурсы предоставляют возможности аудиочата)
  • обмениваться информацией, материалами, аудио и видео записями
  • завести новых друзей и превратить общение на английском в привычное и приятное занятие.

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http://sharedtalk.com/ – портал для быстрого нахождения собеседников и языкового обмена. Здесь зарегистрированы пользователи из различных стран, с которыми можно общаться в режиме реального времени. На сайте есть не только удобный текстовый чат, но и голосовой чат, общение в котором поможет вам развить навыки говорения на иностранном языке.

https://pen4pals.com/ru – этот сайт разработан специально для языкового обмена между носителями различных языков. Например, вы учите английский язык и общаетесь с носителем английского, который учит русский язык.

http://abroad-pal.com/ – здесь можно создать собственную страничку, написать о себе и начать поиск друзей по переписке. Сайт объединяет большое количество пользователей, являющихся носителями всевозможных языков. Здесь есть специальные группы и форумы для общения по интересам. Кроме того, можно вести переписку в личных сообщениях и оставлять комментарии на страничках других пользователей.

http://livemocha.com/ – многие студенты, изучающие иностранные языки, считают этот сайт лучшим из лучших. Ресурс дает разносторонние возможности – от языковых уроков всех уровней до поиска друзей по переписке. На портале множество пользователей, которые регулярно обмениваются языковым опытом, проверяют письменные задания друг друга, переписываются сообщениями и общаются друг с другом в удобном чате.

http://www.interpals.net/ – социальная сеть, ориентирована на разностороннее общение между иностранцами, а том числе – на переписку с целью языкового обмена. Здесь можно переписываться в личных сообщениях, общаться в режиме онлайн и на форумах.

http://www.penpalscommunity.com/ – Эта международная социальная сеть объединяет людей со всего мира, желающих найти друзей по переписке. Вы сможете создать свою учётную запись, загрузить фото и указать, для каких целей вы ищите новые контакты. Большинство пользователей портала стремятся найти людей для языковой практики, но это – не единственная цель ресурса. Социальная сеть делает ставку на возможность найти настоящего друга и родственную душу в любом конце света. У ресурса также есть официальное приложение для Android.

https://inter-perepiska.ru/ – портал создан специально для русско-английского языкового обмена между носителями этих языков. Здесь можно найти друзей по переписке за рубежом, улучшить языковые навыки, получить новый опыт и даже встретить свою вторую половинку! На портале также работает форум для общения и выложено немало полезных статей с советами о том, как выучить иностранный язык.

 

 

 

How to Memorize English Words

Как запоминать английские слова?

Мне часто задают этот вопрос те, кто занимается английским пассивно (т.е. самостоятельно, без спешки, так сказать, на всякий случай). Эта статья – ответ именно для таких учащихся, которые могут позволить себе выделить 10-20 минут в день для занятий языком: не очень много, но зато регулярно. Здесь я перечислю несколько эффективных способов запоминания, а вы можете выбрать для себя те, которые вам более всего по душе.

  1. Из всех новых слов вы скорее всего легко запомните именно те, которые наиболее “привычны” вам в родном языке. Говоря на родном языке, каждый из нас использует свой индивидуальный набор слов: вы наверно заметили, что кто-то из ваших знакомых не может обходиться, например, без слова “Разумеется!”, а другой часто повторяет фразу “А ты как думал?” и т.п. У каждого человека – свой набор характерной для него лексики. Поэтому вам не стоит насиловать себя запоминанием слов, которые упорно не хотят запоминаться. Сосредоточьте внимание на тех словах, которые с первого раза показались вам “родными”.
  2. Слова лучше всего запоминаются, когда вы встречаете их в образном контексте. Слово “чемодан”(suitcase), например, гораздо быстрее запомнится, если вы постараетесь запомнить его в словосочетании с другим словом, которое вызовет у вас устойчивый зрительный образ и даже эмоциональную реакцию, например: “чемодан денег” (a suitcase full of money; money in a suitcase).
  3. Пытайтесь придумывать предложения с каждым новым словом, причём так, чтобы в них говорилось о чём-то важном для вас. Если у вас есть любимый кот Мурзик, придумайте фразы про Мурзика в чемодане или что-нибудь в этом духе, и тогда это слово будет “крутиться” у вас в голове целый день и к вечеру запомнится навсегда.
  4. Быстро запоминаются также слова, которые вы можете мысленно сопоставить с уже знакомыми вам словами или построить рифму (suit-case / good-race / cute-face…). Мне приходилось слышать от студентов, как ловко они переделывают английские слова в шуточные русские фразы, типа “very well, thank you” = “у Веры ел, с Сенькою” Если новое слово упорно вызывает у вас шутливую ассоциацию, значит оно запомнится моментально.
  5. Вообще запоминать что-либо нужно с удовольствием. Возьмите пять новых слов, напишите их на карточках и поиграйте с карточками: положите одну в холодильник, другую  – в рабочий стол, третью прикрепите на зеркало в ванной и т.д. Дальше – можете заниматься другими делами. Всякий раз, наталкиваясь на карточки, вы будете “фотографировать” слова глазами. Сразу припоминайте перевод слова и произносите его вслух. К вечеру  всё запомнится!
  6. Старайтесь использовать изученную лексику в своей речи.  Даже если вы разговариваете на родном языке, но вам припомнилось английское слово, проговорите его в уме по-английски, а в своей речи постарайтесь использовать его в родном языке. Даже такая мысленная игра очень полезна для запоминания.
  7. Нарисуйте для себя так называемую интеллект-карту (mind map). В ней соберите в смысловые блоки те слова, которые вы уже знаете по конкретное теме. Вот пример такой карты, взятый нами из статьи на сайте englex.ru

mind-map В этой схеме – слова, разобранные по подтемам в общей теме “дом”. Сделайте для себя такую карту или составьте её вместе с близкими (например, с детьми), и слова улягутся в памяти сами собой.

Есть ещё много способов ускорить запоминание: регулярно посещать обучающие сайты, вести свой словарь новых слов, читать тексты на разные темы, составлять и писать предложения с новыми словами, но самое главное – это изучать язык в активном действии, и желательно – общаясь на нём.

Удобнее всего, конечно, организовать регулярное общение с носителями языка или преподавателями, но о таком – наиболее эффективном – способе запоминания, к которому прибегают в основном те, кто торопится изучить язык быстро и глубоко, мы поговорим в следующих статьях.

 

Russian School Diaries: Sweet Memories to Keep

In Russia, Ukraine, and everywhere about the former USSR, every student of primary and secondary school must have a so-called diary (дневник [dnevnik]) – a printed notebook, where the student is supposed to make daily entries of their tasks for homework, and teachers usually leave short notes for parents and put down the student’s grades whenever he or she made an oral presentation in class or got a test grade in the class register. Dnevnik is a so-to-say form of communication between teachers and parents via the kid’s book of daily notes.

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The school year extends from September 1 to end of May and is divided into four terms with a week-long vacation periods between them. The programme of study in schools is fixed, it amazes me how stable it has been over the years: the program which my mother had at her maths class in the 1950-es at the age of 12 is practically identical to what my daughter studied at her age of 12 in 2003. Neither can schoolchildren choose the subjects they want to study. The class load per student is 638 hours a year for nine-year-olds, 893 for thirteen-year-olds, plus there are official hours of additional classwork within the program. The students are supposed to write with pens of blue color, while teachers always use red. You can see the student’s notes in blue in the “dnevnik” below, and the teacher’s entries in red: the grades, the teacher’s signatures, and sometimes short notes for the parents asking to pay attention at their kid’s behavior or attention in the classroom.

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Students are graded on a 5-step scale, ranging in practice from 2 (“unacceptable”) to 5 (“excellent”); 1 is a rarely used sign of extreme failure. Teachers regularly subdivide these grades (i.e. 4+, 5-) in daily use, but term and year results are graded strictly 2, 3, 4 or 5.

The teachers’ entries into “dnevnik” have always caused excitement in our minds, and the mother’s or father’s voice, saying: “Show me your dnevnik!” remains in everyone’s memory till the end of our lives!

High school kids are usually bored by school, and those wh want to show that they don’t give a damn to the school rules, can do this to their “dnevniks” sometimes:

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But the most memorable are the humorous moments, when teachers, being driven to madness by kids, leave very funny notes in dnevniks. In Russia and Ukraine, we even have websites, where people contribute photos or scans of their kid’s dnevnik pages with very funny teachers’ notes. This page, for example, has a few entries about a boy’s bad behavior:

  1. “Нарисовал половой орган на доске!” – “He drew a penis on the black board!”
  2. Кричал “Ленин жив!” – “He cried out “Lenin’s alive!”, and in the bottom part of the page:
  3. “Продавал одноклассника в рабство” – “Tried selling his classmate to slavery.”

Looks like quite an action-packed day for a school boy, doesn’t it?

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About Ukrainian Women’s Struggle to Be Allowed to Fight

This article is not about the war, but about the women who happened to live in the war time. For nearly three years now, Ukrainian women have been playing an equally important role with men in the events, taking place in the country. Women have been carrying out their missions at the forefront as military nurses, intelligence officers, snipers, commanders of military hardware. Hundreds of women have been working as doctors, nurses, secretaries, accountants, cooks, or just helping the army as volunteers by collecting vital aid and delivering it to the front line. In all regions of the country, women work at production plants and at farms to produce the necessary supplies for the army.

ua_women-at-war According to data released by the Ministry of Defense in March 2016, there are 17,000 women soldiers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including 2,200 officers. Another 33,000 are working at positions of civil servants and employees of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. More than 1,500 were performing tasks in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Zone.

However, women’s tasks in the Ukrainian Army are not limited by what I have listed above. Quite often they perform the same duties as men, but do not receive the same rights and the same state support, including when they come back from war, because never before the Ukrainian legislators considered women as potential soldiers or fighters of any kind. Due to the legal shortcomings and oversights, Ukrainian women face a number of obstacles when they try to enter the army as volunteers. Which means that those who succeed are highly motivated to serve for Ukraine. Sometimes their motivation is much higher than men’s.

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Today, after some changes were made to the Ukrainian legislation in 2016, women soldiers are protected a bit better, but the optimism of the women’s rights fighters is a bit premature.

The female soldiers in Ukraine have the same rights which are foreseen by the legislation on the social protection for women, protection of maternity and childhood. In the case of a so-called mobilization, all women soldiers who have children under 18 can be out of soldiering if they will not want to continue it. If mobilization is announced, all women who want to continue their soldiering should sign a statement confirming their choice, by it stating that family becomes secondary for them.

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The first sociological study on women’s participation in the Donbas war – metaphorically named the “Invisible Battalion” (as women’s experience in the Ukrainian army is largely invisible to the public and legislation) – was presented in Kyiv in the end of 2015. The study was based on 50 interviews with men and women who have served in the combat zone. A separate section was devoted to women’s participation in Euromaidan and the Women’s Sotnya (meaning: Women’s Hundred) as shortly after the revolution many female activists set off to the eastern front.

Sociologists explained the motivation that drove Ukrainian female volunteers. They joined the fight for patriotic reasons and plan to remain until the end of the war. These women are usually much more motivated than men as they must overcome many stereotypes, prove their right to fight along with men and accept the fact that they cannot count on social protection.

And still, while the legislation is not adjusted to the current situation, women have to remind men about their rights. Some activists are strongly convinced that in modern society, women should have the right to choose whether they want to cook borshch or die on the barricades.

“Our government’s  paternalism is rather outdated. Many international documents declare that the role of women is slowly changing – not only are they viewed as victims of conflict, but as representatives in conflict resolution, together with men.” says sociologist and researcher Tamara Martsenyuk. She believes that women’s rights should be determined as part of labour legislation. Specific rules on women’s labour dates back to the Soviet era… for example, Ukrainian women are not allowed to lift heavy objects or drive certain vehicles.

However, many men (and some women, as well) do not think this list is discriminatory. Working as a chauffeur/driver in the army implies not only driving. “A driver is responsible for his vehicle, knows how to camouflage and repair it. With all due respect, women cannot always cope with these situations,” saysColonel Holota, the head of the military social division of the Personnel Department with the Armed Forces. 

There are currently 14,500 women serving in the army, almost 2,000 of them are officers, and 35 hold senior positions in the Ministry of Defence, the General Staff, and the different types of Armed Forces of Ukraine. 938 women are listed as active soldiers.

Still, even after the two world wars, a number of armed conflicts and a few revolutions which shook Ukraine during the 20-th century, the general approach to a woman, that sits deep in the minds of population, has never changed: a woman is a symbol of peaceful life and her best place is at work, at home, or with kids, but not in the front. It must be this general attitude that slows down the process of changes regarding the women-soldiers rights in Ukraine.

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How Effective Are the Self-Study Courses of English?

Насколько эффективны аудио и видео курсы английского для самостоятельного обучения?

Сегодня полки книжных магазинов, а пуще того – образовательные сайты, соц сети и торренты переполнены предложениями красочных, хорошо продуманных и адаптированных к конкретным нуждам пользователей курсов иностранных языков, включающих в себя полный набор материалов: книги, аудио диски и видео. Выбор действительно богат, особенно если вас интересует изучение английского – самого популярного в мире языка.

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Вы можете отыскать специальные пособия, ориентированные на изучение, например, бизнес-лексики или языка дипломатического общения, или просто учебники разговорного языка, или справочники для туристов и путешественников. Занятия по таким учебникам обычно весьма увлекательны, потому что вы можете почитать, послушать и посмотреть материалы на определённую тему и многие слова запомнятся довольно быстро. Такие курсы великолепны, например, для молодых мам, которые каждый день час-другой гудяют с колясками по парку, или для тех, чья работа позволяет, надев наушники, уйти в себя во время рабочего дня и погрузиться в обучение. Хороши эти курсы также для очень орнанизованных, последовательных людей, кому характер позволяет установить для себя рутинное действие и повторять его ежедневно, как говорится, без выходных и перерывов.

Однако, ни в одном из этих случаев учащийся не может рассчитывать, что изучит язык самостоятельно настолько хорошо, чтобы использовать его в общении с носителями языка. Как бы ни были хороши предлагаемые нам курсы, все они могут претендовать только на почётное звание “дополнительных материалов”, потому что им не достаёт всего одного, но, к сожалению, главного элемента: живого общения. Мне приходится повторять это множество раз, пытаясь уберечь людей от самообмана:

Иностранный язык можно усвоить ТОЛЬКО путём общения

с теми, кто им владеет или для кого он является родным.

Поэтому любые курсы, снабжённые аудио и видео материалами, можно расценивать как замечатеьное и очень эффективное… дополнение к общению, которое вам необходисо организовать с преподавателями или с носителями языка. Ведь вы изучаете язык для того, чтобы общаться на нём, так? Так. А значит, нужно отставить в сторону боязнь ошибок и прочие предрассудки и первым делом отыскать того (или тех), кто станет общаться с вами на языке на регулярной основе. И общаться: общаться взахлёб. И когда это случится, то и купленные вами медиа-курсы станут усваиваться совершенно по-новому: быстро и эффективно. 

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About Russian Friendly Hugs, Kisses and Holding Hands While Walking

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This is a little quick post about traditional Russian kissing, hugging, and holding hands in public, which is especially popular among young women-friends. Unlike many may think, these apparent signs of appreciation to each other are nothing more than expressions of very friendly disposition. While many western cultures would “read” this behavior as unmistakable signs of involvement into intimate relationship, in the Slavic cultures this is nothing more than an open display of very close friendship. Many young people kiss at meeting and when saying bye to each other, especially when they are old school buddies or student mates. Friendly kissing and hugging is not uncommon between opposite sexes, too.

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The Russian manner of walking hand in hand, when the man holds his lady “by the elbow” is well known in many cities around the world. Again, it does not mean that the two people have intimate relations – this is only a friendly stroll, that’s all! Friends of any age, even very elderly people, can be seen walking this way.

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On meeting, the Russians often hug each other, and sometimes even kiss. They do not do this like the French, who “symbolically” kiss the air around each other’s cheeks, the Russian kiss is quite real. Optionally, there may be a three-fold kiss, quite noisy and “physical”. Any kind of touching, hugging, or patting each other’s backs or shoulders is quite popular, both among men and women. In the Russian culture, a good touch is the best way to express your friendly and trustful disposition.

 

 

Age Stereotypes in Russian Society

The FSU (Former Soviet Union) countries, though very diverse and even hostile to each other today, still bear amazingly many commonalities in lifestyles, social behavior, and mentality. One of the common traits of the former Soviet people is the tendency to stick to the old stereotypes, which were developed by previous generations and still remain unbreakable today. The age and gender stereotypes seem to be the strongest of all. Millions of the former Soviets continue to observe the rules of age-appropriate behavior in treating friends and relatives, working relations, household traditions, fashion, etiquette, general manners, and speech. Age discrimination at work is still quite common, and gender differences are not only accepted, but welcomed by both sexes.

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A very sad and, unfortunately, prevalent sign of life in all post-Soviet republics is the attitude to the older generation. People over 65 are literally thrown out of life. Very few of them take part in any social activities, their only occupation is taking care of grandchildren and doing household chores, while their children work and pursue careers. It is typical for people of this age to spend years in and around their homes; very few of them can afford to ravel, and statistically less than 1% of elderly people ever go to movie theaters, eat out, or attend any entertainment events.

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There are several explanations to this fact, such as declining health and decreased income (average monthly pension in Russia in 2016 is $200, and about $150 in Ukraine), but beyond that is the old, sticky stereotype: “Everyone else lives like this, so why wouldn’t I live this life, too?” Among average population, it is considered inappropriate for an elderly person to attended rock concerts, ride a motorbike or do a lot of sports. So, the majority does “the appropriate” stuff like spending time with grandchildren, taking care of home, jam making, knitting, or watching TV. This stereotype sits deep in people’s minds, depriving them of the fun and leisure which they deserved during the long life of hard work.

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Another area in which age stereotypes are mostly subconscious, yet strong is the way people tend to dress and look. Only certain clothes are considered appropriate for each age group. When you are in your 40s, 50s, or older, wearing make up, short skirts and shorts and youthful hairstyles may cause misunderstanding of others, so an older person will rather refuse from wearing them than risk it, because average citizens of the former Soviet world still care what other members of the society think about them.

Middle aged people have hard time finding jobs. Though any discrimination against applicants is prohibited by law, people who reached the age of 40 or even 35 are of little interest to employers. If the age requirements are not listed, the candidates over that age still have slim chances to get a job. The main reason for this is incompetence of HR managers (who are usually very young people) and lack of research that would show that companies miss out when they discriminate candidates and employees by age. Employees over 40 are experienced, mature and it is likely that they don’t have as many personal distractions as the younger workers do.

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Younger adults, especially students and recent graduates, have their own stereotypes within their age group. Though these stereotypes are erasing little by little, but still the idea of getting married before you hit 25 (mostly among women, though it is not disregarded by men, either) is commonly accepted. Many young people, even the well-educated graduates of good universities, have difficulties finding their first jobs. This also happens largely due to a common stereotype of seeing university graduates as very inexperienced people – almost children – who are not ready to enter the working relationships. As jobs are difficult to find, the large percent of young people never have any experience of working until they graduate from universities (usually at the age of 22-23). Overwhelming majority of young people enter universities right after finishing high schools, and there, during the whole time of study they depend completely on their parents, who support them financially under the only condition that they should study hard and obtain the higher education diploma.

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