Friday, March 26, 2010

Pulling Out The American Card

Telling people you're American in Russia usually leads to a couple of different scenarios. Russians will definitely want to know why you decided to take up the task of learning their language. Russians will probably ask your opinions on political matters and obviously Obama. They might ask you what your thoughts are on Russia and it's people.

Being abroad in Russia as an American has been a very interesting experience. Seeing people's reaction to me being American never tires me actually. For the most part, they're pretty positive and just inquisitive. What I think is more interesting is when I haven't introduced myself and I am with the group and we're speaking English. People around us obviously tend to stare, especially when we are in other smaller cities since I'm sure they aren't used to a lot foreigners. They also quickly assume that we don't speak Russian a lot of the times. I've encountered it a few times when I hear some people walking behind me and talking about how we are foreigners and they can't figure out how to say something to us. To their surprise I turn around and just tell them "Umm.. I speak Russian..." and they're so surprised by it as if it's something completely inconceivable. I can't say that I don't get a quick out of those moments haha

Another thing being abroad for the year as an American has taught me, or rather made me more aware of is my privilege. I am much more aware now that as an American I have a certain amount of privilege in the world that isn't awarded to others(Russians for example). I can go travel to so many places and I don't need a visa or any special documents other than my passport. Also, American pop culture has a pretty big presence in other cultures. How does that work? For example I can name someone like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga and young Russians will immediately know who that is. But can I go to Dickinson and will they know who Dima Bilan or Jana Friske is? Not a chance.

Living abroad as American citizen who happens to not be white can also put me in some funny situations. I am always amused when I tell people that I am Mexican and the image they have in their head is of a cowboy in old American Westerns. It's pretty funny how far I am from that stereotypical macho image. I have definitely had some peculiar cultural exchanges with Russian people and I hope there is more to come.

1 comment:

  1. No one is Russia knows who Laday Gaga is. That's your gluk.