Interview: The Experience of a Russian-American Family

Interview: The Experience of a Russian-American Family

An American, Jeanine, who was graduated from a university in Ohio, went to Leningrad to work in the American consulate. That was eight years ago, and since then a lot has happened. She fell in love with a Muscovite, Andrei, moved to Moscow, had Yasha and Tonya, and now lives in Mitino. Jeanine works as an administrator in a branch of a Singapore firm.

Were your first impressions of Russia similar to your later ones?

It’s very cold — that was my first impression. And then — at home in Ohio it doesn’t snow before January. But I really liked the Russians right away. They’re very warm people, they like to invite you home, they like to entertain new friends.

—  In terms of appearance, are we like Americans?

Back home the most important thing is that clothes are comfor­table. Women my mother’s age, and teenagers — everybody goes around in pants. American women don’t wear skirts. For example, my mother only wears a skirt when she’s got to. Your women like wearing skirts. I think that they’re trying to look like the pictures in fashion magazines. That’s nice. But I approve of the reasons for that liberation, which explain why American women made that choice.

  • But those reasons led to the Clinton scandal.
  • In America men have lost their male aggression and self-
    confidence. Russian men are more… masculine. They aren’t afraid of
    expressing their opinion, even if that might offend someone or if
    someone might not like it.
  • Do you miss America ?
  • When I’m home on vacation I do a lot of walking in the
    country. The landscape is flat — there are fields all around — and you
    can see everything. If a car comes by even strangers wave at me or
    just smile. You could say that it’s artificial politeness, but that’s life
    in a small town. I miss polite small-town America.
  • You’re living abroad — is that normal far America?
  • For most Americans any trips abroad are unusual. For example,
    my relatives can afford to go to Europe, but they don’t go that far.
    Even Canada — as far as I know, Americans don’t go there that
    much. Sometimes they go on vacation to Mexico. But my cousins
    have never been out of the country.
  • What language do you now speak with your children ?
  • We decided that Andrei would speak Russian to the children
    and that I’d speak English. But sometimes it comes out backward. It’s
    funny, when they annoy me and I use a Russian expression with
    them, “Всё! “: “Stop it!” In English that would take two words, and
    in Russian it’s shorter and sounds good.
  • What does a foreigner feel like on a Moscow street?
  • When I’m out for a walk with the children I run into other
    Russian moms. They ask me who I am, why I came to Russia.
    They’re really not very interested in America, much more in how I
    manage with two children. I don’t have to speak Russian to strangers
    all that often. I take the subway to work, but I’ve got a monthly ticket.
    The store and the market — Andrei usually does that.  He buys
    everything faster and better, and also, he doesn’t get cheated: as he
    says, well, he’s been going to the market his whole life.<em/>
  • And one last question. In Russia, when people talk about love of
    one’s country, they often cite the example of American patriotism. As you
    see it, what does that mean
    ?
  • Patriotism means, first of all, tradition. A hundred years ago
    Americans were already celebrating Independence Day, the fourth of
    July. Each generation meant that many more patriots. Children start
    the school day with the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Before any
    competitions,  including school ones, everyone sings the national
    anthem. And all that is sincere.

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