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Do many native Russians really carry plastic bags for their personal possessions?

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Do many native Russians really carry plastic bags for their personal possessions?

Old May 31st, 2002, 08:50 AM
  #1  
Jennifer
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Do many native Russians really carry plastic bags for their personal possessions?

I've often read that Russian people carry plastic bags instead of briefcases, purses, or backpacks. Other than the obvious answer that plastic bags are very cheap, is there another answer? Personally, I prefer to leave my hands free when wandering around.

Jennifer
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 09:34 AM
  #2  
EP
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They used to in Soviet times. There were no proper plastic bags in Sovietunion, so they were rare and kind of fashionable. If you managed to get one, you also used it. But those times are gone, and plastic bags are just for carrying food home from a supermarket.
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 10:09 AM
  #3  
Jennifer
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Thanks, EP. Do you know what a person most likely would use to carry around a moderate amount of "stuff?" If I am accepted into the position, I will be teaching English at a Russian school this fall and will need to carry probably a couple of books, a bottle of two or water, and just a small amount of general "purse-type" items (comb, tissues, pen, paper, and so forth). Would a backpack look totally out-of-place?

Is it different for Moscow/St Petersburg versus rural Russia (west of the Urals)?

Jennifer
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 10:35 AM
  #4  
EP
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Moscow and St.P are different from rural areas. I always feel that Russian women in towns are dressed to kill. Their taste in clothes is different from western European. In my eyes too ornate, too tight, always too something. And Russian women think western European women don´t dress femininely enough. But you are a foreigner, so you are forgiven even if your skirt is down to your knees and your belly button is not showing.

For a bag I would use (I don´t know if this is the right expression) a tote bag. You know, a big bag that you can also carry on your shoulder. But if you like to wear a backpack that is OK, too. They probably think that it is not feminine, but hei, you ARE a foreigner, and I suspect you could carry your stuff in a hemp sack and the Russians would think it is OK.
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 10:42 AM
  #5  
Jennifer
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Thanks EP,

I like your idea of a large tote bag (actually I have a thick cotton canvas one from Lands' End that would work well). However, for the initial trip, I will wear a larger backpack with wheels that will be used as a carry-on. That way, when I walk with a larger suitcase, it will be the only thing in my hands.

I've read that Russian women don't have as many clothes and jewelry as many Western women but that they are dressed more formally. I won't dress "formally," but I will take some black slacks with several dark blouses but with different jewelry and scarves so I'll look "dressed" but not formal.

Undoubtedly, I will stand out! But I'd prefer not to SCREAM the fact that I'm not native. The pure-white New Balance tennis shoes (I only wear them for exercise, anyway), denim jeans, and t-shirts stay at home!

Thanks again,

Jennifer
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 10:59 AM
  #6  
Jane
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Hi, Jennifer

Where exactly in Russia is your teaching assignment?

Jane
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 11:00 AM
  #7  
x
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How about a fashionable leather tote bag instead of canvas. The leather will withstand cold weather better and will stay nice looking longer (escpecially if using public transportation).
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 11:06 AM
  #8  
Jennifer
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Hi Jane,

It's in a city called Izhevsk, population of about 750,000. It's situated west of the Urals, so it's in Europe, and two other major cities near are Perm and Kazan. I actually haven't been accepted yet, but I should hear from them any day! However, I'm also learning that many things in Russia, especially concerning decisions and visas and such, take a much longer time than originally thought.

Jennifer
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 12:13 PM
  #9  
Jane
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Hi, again

My husband and I spent some time in Russia last summer, but no where near Izhevsk. However, as far as being 'out of place' goes, I don't think you have to be concerned as long as you avoid doing anything really far out. The Russians hold education in such very high regard that I imagine your being an educator will almost automatically have you in a position of high esteem and appreciation. I did notice that professional women wore dresses or casual, comfortable skirts with cool, summery tops as opposed to slacks or jeans or shorts.
Wishing you luck on assignment acceptance--sounds like a fantastic opportunity!
Jane
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 12:38 PM
  #10  
Jennifer
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Hi Jane,

One thing that really impresses me about what I've read of Russians is their resourcefulness. The average Russian doesn't seem to have a great deal of money, but they make the most of what they have and barter for a lot of services!

If you don't mind terribly, would you please tell me -- when you drank water, did you usually just get bottled water, or did you use a water purifier? When touring around, are most Russian toilets as bad as I've read (a few squares of newsprint as tp and many hole-in-the-floor toilets)? If you've traveled around to other European countries, is the pickpocket/petty crime situation about the same as any other area?

It is just amazing how extremely different reports of Russian conditions can be! I realize that Russia is a vast country, but often reports of one area (usually Moscow or St Petersburg) are diametrically different.

Thanks so much for your trouble,

Jennifer
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 06:30 PM
  #11  
Jane
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Hello, Jennifer

The only bathroom facility that was truly a hole in the ground was one in a public park in the city of Kostroma. Most others in restaurants, museums, tourist atractions, hotels, etc. were flush style; however, tp was to be placed in the waste basket nearby and not flushed. Their systems are so old they just do not have the ability to handle anything extra. Their tp is rougher/scratchier than others, but adequate. In Red Square and a few other places, we had to pay a few rubles to the attendant (usually an elderly woman)for a little square of tp.
We ALWAYS drank bottled water. We read that the Russian water in the reservoirs is fine, but once it travels through the old pipes, it becomes contaminated.
The pick pocket problem is rather bad in some places. We overheard of two incidents in one day in the St. Petersburg subway and three cases at the Moscow Circus. DO NOT WEAR A FANNY PACK OR BACK BACK!!! Use a bag that has a definite closure and keep your eye on it at all times. We were told that what is wanted the most are passports and airline tickets. We kept our valuables in "waist wallets" that were concealed by our outer clothing. You can buy the kind that is worn around the neck, but it is obvious one is wearing one, unless you happen to have long hair, because the cord shows above a shirt collar in the back.
Unfortunately, there are thugs all over the world, but we never felt unsafe and just followed basic common sense practices that we would even if we were in our own home city.
Jane
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 06:44 PM
  #12  
Jennifer
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Although I tend to prefer a backpack, I do have waist-length hair that covers the back and also have a combination lock that I can use. I generally don't wear my passport and airline tickets in an inner pouch, but I think in Russia, I will, since I'm completely new to the territory (and even then...).

Your thoughts on safety in Russia kind of mirrored my own instincts -- it really isn't any better or worse than any other major tourist area in the world.

Something I don't understand is the mindset of someone who literally makes a living off of stealing from others.

Spouse 1: Hey, honey, welcome home from work. Did you have a good day?

Spouse 2: Oh gawd no, some of those idiotic tourists locked their packs and held tightly to their purses. It took some real ingenuity to figure out how to unzip those packs without them knowing!

Spouse 1: Poor baby. I hope tomorrow is better.

Spouse 2: I hope so. I hear there's a tourist group that is traveling for the first time away from home. Maybe some of them will give us hard-working stiffs a break!

Geez....how do these people truly sleep at night?

Jennifer
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 06:51 PM
  #13  
Jane
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Jennifer,
Just a quick note. We were tourists traveling from from community to community from site to site for more than two weeks, so we really had to "wear" some of our valuables. Your circumstances will be far different if you will be teaching at a definite location for a period of time. You'll be less of a tourist and more of a visitor to Russia. Enjoy!
Jane
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 06:52 PM
  #14  
Jane
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P.S.
Enjoyed your wife/husband dialog!
Jane
 
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