Blog - Random oddness and coolness

Added on Monday, 2011-10-03 18:04 CEST in category Moscow
Ever since I moved to Russia over a year and a half ago, I've come across countless little oddities (some of them pretty cool, others not so much), which weren't noteworthy enough for an entire blog post, but were still a shame to ignore. In this blog post I'll talk about a few.


The Russian currency is the Russian ruble. Since I've lived here, you get about 40 rubles for a euro and about 30 rubles for a dollar.

Surprisingly, for a currency with such an exchange rate, cents, or kopeyki as they're called here, are still in active use. (Albeit in some places more than others.) These kopeyki are so worthless, that they're often ignored as change or simply thrown away or "lost" somewhere at home. If you search carefully in a typical Russian flat, you can probably find enough pocket change to buy yourself a subway ticket, if the need is really there!

The denominations are as follows: 1, 5, 10, 50 kopeyki, 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 rubles. As you'll notice, the only denomination with a 2 in it, is the 2 ruble coin. Others don't exist, meaning constant problems with getting change. If you buy something priced, say, 520 rubles, and you pay with a 1000 ruble bill, your change'll be 100, 100, 100, 100, 50, 10, 10, 10. Not very practical…

Also, electronic transfers unfortunately aren't as common as in Europe yet. There're many people who do not even have a bank account, and even cars and flats are often bought in cash. Being able to pay by card in a restaurant or shop is considered a big plus. Perhaps as a side effect of dealing with so much cash, there are still shops that work in the following way: you are wanting to purchase an item, you bring it to the counter, you get a receipt stating the total sum, you go to another counter where you pay, you get another receipt stating you paid, you then go back to the first counter and show this second receipt, and only then can you take your purchases home…

Eating habits

Continuing my post on Russian culinary habits, I've noticed a few small things:
  • Pepsi Cola isn't considered cola. Only Coca-Cola is. If you order a cola, and they only have Pepsi, you're usually asked if Pepsi is OK instead;
  • The choice of meat is usually bigger than in Western Europe, often including hundreds of different kinds of sausages as well as peculiar meats like cow tongue or heart. I'm not a fan of cow tongue, but heart is actually pretty tasty :)
  • A lot of different foods are eaten cold, including pizza, peas and sauerkraut;
  • Eating with your mouth open isn't really considered bad etiquette…
  • Food often doesn't have an expiration date written on it, but a packaging date. The label then usually tells you for how long you can keep it in the fridge, instead of just telling you when it expires in the first place…, but oftentimes you just have to guess;
  • Hardly anyone has a pantry. The main reason for this in Moscow is probably because there's always at least some store open, so if you're really in dire need of something, you can pretty much always get it. (But I don't let that bother me, we have a pantry, and I'm proud of it :P)

Given names

Pretty much all Russians have exactly one given name, one patronymic (or father's name) and one surname. Two or more given names or surnames are practically unheard of, and may cause some confusion. I for one don't have a patronymic, but I do have two given names. My second given name is thus assumed to be my patronymic. When I correct them and tell them I've got two given names, and no patronymic, I first get a weird look, and am from then on usually referred to as 'Nieko Christian' instead of just 'Nieko'. (This may stem from the principle that the polite form of addressing someone is by their given name and patronymic (e.g. Aleksandr Sergeevich), instead of their surname (mr. White) like in western culture.)