No matter you travel abroad to start a new job, an international relationship, a degree or a new journey in your life, you might experience some kind of culture shock. That’s very normal.

  • Advice for Russian women looking to marry western men:

Leaving home and travelling to a new country can be a slightly stressful experience. Even though it may be something you have planned and prepared for, the size of the change and the effects it has on you may surprise you. If you find that you are surprised by the effects of the change, it might be helpful to realize that your experience is quite normal. This is true whatever country you come from, and wherever you are going to live, even though some cultures are more similar than others because of geographic, historic, demographic and other connections.

What is culture shock? “Culture shock” describes the effect of moving from a familiar culture to one which is unfamiliar. It is an experience described by people who have travelled abroad to work, live or study; it can be even felt when overseas on holiday. It can affect anyone, including Russian ladies. It includes the shock of a new environment, meeting lots of new people and learning the ways of a different country. It also includes the shock of being separated from the important people in your life, maybe family and friends: people you would normally talk to when you have a problem, people who give you support and help. When familiar sights, sounds, smells or tastes are not around anymore, you can miss them very much. If you are tired and jet-lagged when you arrive, small things can upset you much more than they normally would.

  • What causes culture shock?

Food: You may find western food strange. It may taste different, or be cooked differently, or it may seem bland or heavy compared to what you are used to. If you are unused to cooking for yourself, you may find yourself relying on “fast” food instead of your usual diet. Try to find a place where you can buy familiar food, and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Language: Constantly listening and speaking in a foreign language is tiring. If English is not your first language, you may find that you miss your familiar language which at home would have been part of your everyday environment. Even if you are a fluent English speaker, it is possible that the new accent you discover when you arrive will make the language harder to understand. People may also speak quickly and you may feel embarrassed to ask them to repeat what they have said.

Dress: You may find it uncomfortable to wear the clothing that you normally wear in a western country. Not all Russian women will find western clothes different but, for some, it may seem too revealing, unattractive, funny or boring.

Social roles: Social behavior may confuse, surprise or upset you. For example, you may find people appear unfriendly and always in a hurry. This is more likely in the city. Or you may be surprised to see couples holding hands and kissing in public. You may find the relationships between men and women more formal or less formal than you are used to, as well as differences in gay and lesbian relationships.

‘Rules’ of behavior: As well as the obvious things that hit you immediately when you arrive, such as sights, sounds, smells and tastes, every culture has unspoken rules which affect the way people treat each other. For example, there will be differences in the ways people decide what is important, how tasks are allocated and how time is observed. Westerners generally have a reputation for punctuality. In business and academic life keeping to time is important. You should always be on time for lectures, classes, and meetings. If you are going to be late for a meeting, try to let whoever you are meeting know. Social life is a little more complicated. Arranging to meet to see a film at 8pm means arriving at 8pm. But if you are invited to visit someone’s home for dinner at 8pm, you should probably aim to arrive at about ten minutes after eight, but not later than about twenty past eight. These subtle differences can help to cause culture shock.

“Culture shock is real; it’s not a fiction. Having said that, Russian ladies who are married to western men are generally happy and satisfied because true love is true. Statistics show that international marriages have a significantly lower divorce rate, whereas domestic marriages have a much higher divorce rate in western countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.”