How to Pass as 100% Muscovite or How to Survive Living in Moscow – a checklist

Wherever you go carry a plastic bag of items irrelevant to your activities (for example: old newspapers, a washcloth and tomato seeds to a church service). Just in case.

Never smile when asking a question. Ever.

If your to-do list has 7 items on it, be realistic and cross off the 6 least important (leave them for the rest of the week)

When walking on pedestrian sidewalks be mindful of the cars

Even a trip to McDonalds is no occasion for less than 4″ heels

Always assume the person you’re standing in line behind is saving a spot for 37 more people (in other words, there is never a short line)

If you are a woman – do not attempt to lift anything over 25lbs. You are too weak. Find the nearest man.

If you are a man – deodorant and showering is optional for you. Only ride the metro if you have NOT put on deodorant or a fresh shirt. Also you should carry a man purse.

Be prepared to fill something out a minimum of 4 times. You will do it wrong at least 3 times before it is right. Guaranteed.

Have extra cash on hand for church donation plates and bribes.

Always factor in 40 minutes of aimlessly walking around the wrong metro exit when caculating travel time anywhere.

Never smile when answering a question. Ever.

Do not pay with a 1000 ruble bill for something that is 898 rubles. You must have 98 rubles in your wallet if you want to avoid complete humiliation.

Assume anyone you are speaking to is a complete idiot. Especially if they are American…and smiling.

Write down addresses – they come in several parts: street name, building number, concourse number, entrance number, buzzer number, number of minutes the doorman will hold you hostage before allowing you to proceed to the elevator, floor number, apartment number

Know exactly where you are going if entering a large office building so you can tell the guards at each of 3 checkpoints on your way in

In the spring and summer snowsuits are acceptable outfits for children if there is the slightest hint of a breeze

Feel free to consider any open space anywhere on the street or sidewalk a parking spot (if you run into any trouble, just tap into the reserved bribe money)

My personal goals (less than a month left, oops, until we are home for the summer):

To use Russian filler words when I am speaking (instead of confusing people with ‘anyway’, ‘whatever’, and ‘so’)

Start thinking in Russian (I have already dreamt in Russian #boo-ya!)

Naturally give my telephone number the Russian way – without saying each individual number like 9-6-8, but saying ninehundred sixty eight (in Russian, duh)

Automatically start counting in Russian

To remember what wagon I should be in on the metro to be closest to the correct exit

Update (9 June): To be able to open the cardboard juice boxes that just have outlines (no spout and no opening like a usual milk box that we are used to)

Disclaimer: no offence to anyone who is actually a Muscovite!


6 Responses to “How to Pass as 100% Muscovite or How to Survive Living in Moscow – a checklist”


  2. To use an incredibly American expression, I died! Thanks, it was much needed.

  3. Oh my goodness!! That is really hysterical!!!!!! I remember from my short week in Russia, that almost everyone knew who we were because the event was all over the news, but anyone whom we approached with a question, would look amused, like we were some kind of idiots pretending that we were Russian.

  4. VERY VERY funny!!!!!!

  5. You have got it , it’s perfect and very funny


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