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Naturally, the answer to this question will vary depending on the person, their preferences, and the destination of their travel. However, I can think of several things that are likely to be missed by many Russians abroad and perhaps by some people from the neighboring countries, too.
As we mentioned on this blog before, tea drinking (чаепитие, also meaning “tea party”) is an indispensable part of living in Russia. You will likely be offered tea (чай) if you visit someone at home in Russia. Tea is usually served with various desserts such as preserves (варенье, uncountable), cookies/biscuits (печенье, uncountable), crêpes (блины, also known as blini), etc. Fruit and herbal teas (фруктовые и травяные чаи) are common.
People often have their friends over in the kitchen (кухня) and spend hours drinking tea and talking. Tea is usually savored and not gulped on the run (на ходу). As a result, most Russian families will have the proper equipment for making tea, such as a tea kettle (чайник) and a tea pot (заварочный чайник, used for steeping concentrated tea, which is then mixed with hot water). If you ask a Russian, microwaving water for making tea is blasphemy.
As you may know, people in Russia usually take off their shoes indoors and put on slippers (тапочки) especially kept near the door for this purpose. This is done to keep your feet warm and to keep the house clean.
However, this idea that you shouldn’t step on the floor with your bare feet or in your socks goes beyond the (in)famous тапочки. In airports and other places where you are expected to take off your shoes, you may be given plastic slippers (бахилы).
Generally speaking, Russians don’t like to throw things out at the first sign of wear. As a result, you can find many shoe repair shops (ремонт обуви) in Russian cities. There you can replace a broken zipper (сменить молнию) or heel tips (набойки).
Several Russian living abroad complained about the lack of sufficient heating (отопление) in the winter. Most Russians live in tall apartment buildings with central heating (центральное отопление), so the temperature indoors never dips below 20 degrees Celsius as long as the heating is on.
Personally, I have had a hard time finding a static remover (антистатик) since moving from Russia. Антистатик is an aerosol that you spray on your clothes or furniture to remove static electricity. This substance is standard in Russia and is often used by women to prevent their skirts from sticking to their legs.
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