Coming from America, I am used to “First World” living, and adjusting to the “Second World” has been a little bit difficult. I’m sure there are people who think I view Russia as “Second World” because of American arrogance and all that jazz, but it’s not like that at all. To prove my point, let me just list the reasons why I see Russia the way I do:
1. 90% of the cars on the road are models from the 80s and early 90s, which implies that the majority of the population is poor.
2. Reinforcing that implication is the fact that the average yearly Russian salary is $11,000 USD. I make about that much working part-time, without a degree.
3. You can’t drink tap water. At all. I didn’t know this the first night, so I drank some and had a horrible stomach ache later. The next day I learned that tap water here is notorious for having heavy metals and parasites. Yum…
4. Someone came to the door when I was about to take a shower. I left the water running. I came back, and the water which had accumulated at the bottom of the shower was brown….Boy, don’t I feel clean….
5. The computer I’m typing on is in the lab of the second largest, and one of the most well-funded, educational institution in Russia. The computer was made in the 90s.
6. Telecommunications are virtually non-existent. Yes, they have cell phones, but for a foreigner to make any call within Russia is next to impossible, and the coverage for natives is not that great.
7. The metro is underdeveloped. Yes, it could be worse, but it’s quite small and limited for a city of nearly 5 million.
8. They don’t have many of the freedoms they proclaim they do. Freedom of speech, for example. Isn’t it interesting that you have to go to a special place at a special time to buy an anti-government newspaper, and that many anti-government reporters mysteriously vanish or are killed, and their killers are found not-guilty….?
Well, there are a few more reasons I could list, but I think you get the general idea. And as interesting as Russia is, I’m definitely looking forward to reclaiming the standard of living I grew up in.