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[Table] IAmA group of Fulbright Fellows living, teaching, and researching in Russia. AMA about applying for the chance to live abroad for a year, life in Russia, or anything else!

2012.12.24 06:01 tabledresser [Table] IAmA group of Fulbright Fellows living, teaching, and researching in Russia. AMA about applying for the chance to live abroad for a year, life in Russia, or anything else!

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Date: 2012-12-23
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Also did they let you choose your city or how was that determined? And my city was accidentally chosen by me. I mentioned having been here in my interview (they'll ask where you'd want to go if it was up to you), and then later , running up on graduation, when I still hadn't gotten my assignment, I asked about what their timetable was so I could start working on my visa and stuff and they kinda spot-assigned me that day to shut me up. I had the exact opposite of ubergreen's experience. The Fulbright adviser and support staff at my university did everything in their power to insure that my application would be awesome. Sometimes, I think they put more work in on it than I did. Try to find people that will help you like that.
2) Like fulbrighteta said, go ahead and come to Russia and experience it for a while. It's not like it's the most depressing place on earth; instead, it's just frustrating enough to drive you insane. You'll look around and see so much potential being wasted that it will make you angry at the people and the facilities. If you can move beyond the anger and accept the quirks of Russian society, then you'll start to see why it is that way and how much fun it can be.
Have you been to Russia? Go before you apply. Get out of your comfort zone to be sure you can handle it. My professors were really worried about that; they said it's been a problem before that people just get there and then say "I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS" and leave. Don't do that. The phone interview wasn't too nerve racking, it was harder just getting the application together. Start early and work on it a little every day! As a researcher, I chose my city and my project. You should have good reason to choose your city (thus, if you choose Moscow and St. Petersburg, you need to have a really good reason why you need to be in those cities. This year we have an opera singer studying with the Moscow Conservatory and a conductor studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory!)
I hear that driving out there is just crazy and that people have to use dashboard cameras for court and insurance purposes. Have you had any experiences while driving or riding? Do people ride bicycles? My city (Izhevsk) doesn't have many bicyclists (especially because the sidewalks are practically made of ice right now). Nobody in my city has dashcams either, since insurance fraud isn't common outside the big cities.
I only have one story about Russian driving. I was eating dinner the other night, heard tires screech and a thud, looked out the window, and saw a lady who had been hit at a crosswalk. She was okay, thankfully. Of course, that happens everywhere, not just in Russia, but driving here is quite... different.
Edit: extra word.
Yes, driving is Russia is a little crazy! It's a whole new way of thinking about your surroundings, while in America we expect everyone to follow the rules and that we have the right to go, when the law says we do, here you have to expect everyone to take every shortcut possible and expect people to break the rules. I'm not too scared when I'm riding passenger, because while they break the rules, I think they really know what they're doing. I haven't seen dashboard cameras, I do know that every single car has a radar sensor so they know when they need to slow down. I don't see a lot of bicycles, the roads aren't great, and as I described, not super safe. Plus for a good deal of the year, the sidewalks are slick and slippery. People walk and the public transportation (at least in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladimir and Cheboksary (places where I've lived)) is really great; you never wait longer than a few minutes for a bus/trolley/train.
First thing to understand is that lanes mean something completely different here. Except on the busiest of streets, most lanes are used for parking. For example, there is a six-lane, one-way street in front of my workplace that is functionally a one-lane slolem, with both sides double-parked solid and triple-parkers alternating sides. Even on busy streets, a lot of the time the lanes aren't clearly marked or visible, so drivers tend to sort themselves. This can have hilarious consequences in regard to concrete dividers.
Next, driving etiquette. It works about the same as metro etiquette, which is to say that you move forward at whatever speed suits you until you physically cannot anymore, and then make a fuss about how you can't get to where you want. In the car this means laying on the horn for any length of time and inching forward to fill all available space.
In short, it is a whole lot of fun. I've had a lot of middle-of-the-night cab rides at 100mph.
In my city, they don't drive super crazily. There is really only one main road and people generally follow the rules of the road. Heck, they will even stop for pedestrians at crosswalks (assuming it's not at a stoplight). Moscow, however, that is an entirely different animal. The drivers are insane there and the traffic is awful. Never drive in Moscow unless your life depends on it.
The singular goal of any Russian driver at any moment is to get as close to their destination as possible. So they have no problem turning left into oncoming traffic and then stopping because there's a car in the way. Their single-mindedness of goal can be pretty amusing.
About a month ago, I watched a car try to cut around a bulldozer (often they don't close a street when doing construction on it) and get the driver-side door ripped almost in two. No one was hurt, and while the driver who caused the accident was furious about his totaled car, the driver of the bulldozer didn't care even a tiny bit. It was entertaining to see the drama unfold.
I'm a volunteer in Ukraine and this happened to me 2 weeks ago. Idiot didn't see me crossing the street and ran right into me. Happened to me in Washington DC, about a month before I took off.
How difficult is it to get into these programs? Do they publish acceptance rates? They do publish acceptance rates! Here's the rates of acceptance by country for ETA positions.
is it dependent on the discipline and/or region? If so, are there more funding for Middle Eastern studies now (because of the war and everything), or would that be China, or somewhere else? The Fulbright website publishes lists of all the stats each year. In some cases (for example, Eastern Europe), the programs are often new or change structures frequently, and the statistics fluctuate accordingly. In our year, I believe about 100 people tried out for about 30 spots in Russia. Any discipline is free to apply to any region. Funding per region depends largely on political factors and demand. A lot of the time, the number of Fulbright slots available in a country depends on how many the host government wants, rather than how many the US government wants to send. Application staistics can be found here. They do, of course, vary from year to year, so they're not necessarily a reliable indicator of competitiveness. As for the region, there are wayyy more applications for more politically "interesting" areas, and for places that don't require you to know the native language. They don't tend to send ETAs to England, though.
83, actually. Thanks. I just remembered the ballpark stat from orientation.
83 applied for 30 english teaching grants and 61 applied for 15 research/study grants.
Which brings me to my question- what's the drinking like over there? Is it really all vodka all the time? Are there any amazing drinks (or even foods) that you've gotten to experience? As for food, I live in the Republic of Udmurtia (kinda like a State), so I get to try all kinds of unique ethnic cuisine. My favorite is perepechi, which are basically little pizzas. The thing about Russian drinking that I have yet to understand is their weird beer stigma. It's pretty socially acceptable to drink beer at a bar with friends, but for whatever reason six-point beer is for alcoholics. Which has caused no end of exasperated arguments for me, since I had a bad experience with low-quality Russian vodka last time I was in-country and can no longer stomach the stuff. In my experiences, I have seen Russians drinking everything from rum to whiskey, cocktails to beer, and yes of course vodka. Vodka with juice is my drink of choice, so I don't really mind the stigma but yes it exists. It might be the people I choose to hang out with, but I have noticed that the younger generation is less likely to order vodka, and stick to beer, because often their fathers or grandfathers were alcoholics and so choose to shy away from stronger spirits and instead drink socially and remain mostly sober. But I don't drink to get drunk either, so it might just be my type of friends :) There's a huge gender divide in many areas of Russian life, and drinking is no exception. At least half of the women I've talked about drinking with don't drink alcohol at all; those that do usually don't drink much. In my experience, women drink wine or cognac; men are more likely to drink vodka. Everyone has there own preferences. Some of my friends don't drink at all, others only drink beer, some prefer tequila, and some love vodka. It all comes down to preference. I will say though that it seems like drinks are even more gendered than they are in the US. Guys really aren't supposed to order any cocktails. Your only "correct" choices are beer, vodka, whisky or some other kind of "manly" drink. I know this exists in the US, but I see it to an even larger degree here.
cognac is much more common here. I assume that's Armenian cognac? You assume correctly. Not terrible stuff, and it's a good alternative to the extremely expensive whiskey here.
For reference: I once saw a small (~300ml) bottle of Maker's Mark in a big, generally cheap chain store in St. Petersburg for a hundred dollars. Yeah, walking around package stores is a surreal experience. It keeps me sober.
What made y'all choose Russia? Did you consider other countries? Just kidding of course. I did not consider any other countries. Russia was my area of studies, and I was interested in seeing more of it. It was a no brainer for me. While I love Russia and I am trying my darndest to learn the language, I did consider plenty of other places. Southeast Asia in particular. One of my friends is an ETA in Laos, and her travel blog makes me extremely jealous.
Were you all interviewed? The hardest part was probably the essays - I wrote/rewrote my essays 15 times. When you think about, each word was worth a few $100 and a lifetime of memories, so it was important that each one counted. I found a bunch of great professors who tore my essays apart and didn't give any compliments until they were turned in - that really helped I think. The second hardest part was probably the waiting - since we prepared/waited for more than a year before we actually got over here! All the ETAs were interviewed. It was pretty informal--about 30 minutes on the phone, in Russian, mostly just to make sure we weren't crazy or incompetent. We were all interviewed. The interview took place by phone and was conducted in Russian. The interview was probably the most stressful part of the application process, but I'd say that the written application was also stressful in that I went over it hundreds of times making sure everything was perfect. Also, the spam filter is preventing me from answering too often.
What was the most difficult aspect of the application? The most difficult part of the application was waiting. My school had us turn in our applications in September, and we didn't get the final decisions until April. Between then, I was contacted twice (if I remember correctly)--once for the interview, and once because part of my application went missing. Russia is fantastic. Really the worst thing about it is that so few people back home believe me that it's really good, so anytime they ask me about it, they automatically take a negative perspective towards what I say. Even if what I say is "Someone really interesting invited me over for tea and pies, and then helped me with my research." Which is most of what happens outside of work. EDIT The university-level interview was so low-key that I forgot it even happened. But yes, before turning in my application, I had to meet with a panel of professoFulbright liaisons. I got lucky and was very close to most of the panel anyway, so it wasn't a big deal at all.
How are you enjoying Russia? I love, love, love Russia. It's an amazing country with some of the kindest, warmest people. People love to pick out Russia's mysteries and the sheer difficulties of living here (just like everyone only talks about love in Paris and food in Italy) but it really is a beautiful country of strong people who have a lot to give once you get to know them :)
My mom is from Russia (so am I, technically), and she says over there its normal for guys to try to pick up girls on the street. Like, its not considered creepy, and is an acceptable way of getting dates. Is that true from you've seen? Hah, I can do you one better, it's actually normal for girls to try to pick up guys on the street! Many young ladies here are very confident about pursuing guys. The girls say it's because the guys here are "too shy," and they have to "put in a lot of effort to find the right one, since he'll never just come to me."
The most adorable thing is that guys will hit on my wife while we're out in public together, and then when they get inevitably turned down, they generally go AWWW MANNN and okayface.jpg right on out of there.
Huh, that's really strange. as a lone (not single), travelling female, I've had my fair share of getting picked up on streets all over the world, and Russia has been the only place (including the US), where I can go weeks without ever being appropriately/inappropriately hit on (no cat calls, no whistles, no sss's, no "what are you reading?"). maybe it's because i'm bundled up in a coat or maybe because I've lived in small towns but I've found that people don't really talk to strangers here...or maybe it's just me! regardless, I'm enjoying it :)
What do you backgrounds look like? whats the ratio of time spent teaching vs research? I was an International Relations / Psychology double major, with a minor in Russian Studies. I had been to Moscow for 5 weeks 2 years before, but my Russian language skills are low-intermediate at best (B1 by the European scale).
Actually, your second question is a little complicated. There are many types of Fulbright grant. I'm an ETA, which means I spend around 12 hours a week teaching/running clubs, plus time spent doing lesson plans and stuff outside class. Our teaching responsibilities vary WIDELY though.
There's a different type of grant, for researchers. Responsibilities for that vary widely as well, and negotiation of the terms of your research are largely up to you and your host institution.
I graduated in 2011 (so a year out) with a major in French and minors in Russian and Arabic. I had lived in Russia before (4 months) and knew the language pretty well. There are two groups of students here, those who teach English (and do their own projects on the side with, I believe, as much time as they like, correct me if I'm wrong!) and those that do research (and tutor English on the side, as English speakers in foreign countries are always asked to do!)
My research grant allows me to do my research with most of my time. It also paid for me to take classes at the University. I decided to take Chuvash language lessons (3 hours a week) at a Humanities Institute. I also received a supplemental CLEA scholarship which funds my Russian lessons at Chuvash State University (6 hours a week). I volunteer in English clubs and visit English classes in elementary schools as time allows :)
I've got two relevant degrees (a BA each in Russian Language and Russian and East European Area Studies) and a decent (albeit skewed toward the academic) resume besides. Teaching experience and language skills scored me some brownie points during the selection process. I spend about two-thirds of grant-oriented time teaching, one-third on my "research" (which is now mostly just taking Russian classes, because of my CLEA).
I double majored in German literature and Music and minored in Russian language. My Russian skills are pretty weak even now, a high-ish B1.
I've kind of redirected my research for the time being; my project requires higher language skills than I have now, so I'm working on language now so I can do research in the spring. I teach between 16-18 academic hours per week usually, and I have 4-6 academic hours of Russian lessons.
Perfect education for CIA agent. :D Or State Dept or non-governmental work or just about anything else. That's the beauty of the Liberal Arts education (and its curse as well).
Hi Fulbrighters, I'm a future ETA to Brazil for next year. I'm in the process of packing for my departure in Feb and I would like to know what are the most essential items to bring with me for my program (computer, phone, etc)? Also, ETAs, what exactly do you do? Are you responsible for teaching your own material, or do you follow someone's curriculum? Yes to computer, no to phone (unless it has a sim card)! my iPad has been so so so useful, especially for giving presentations on the fly, or showing people pictures of my home/staying in contact with friends back home. if you can afford it...that is the piece of technology to bring.
If you bring your phone, make sure it has an interchangeable SIM card, so that you can buy a new one when you get to your destination.
Definitely bring your computer, there's lots of downtime as an ETA, not to mention all the time you'll spend on your computer doing lesson plans for your classes.
Bring comfortable shoes, lots of socks and underwear, weather-appropriate clothing, and most important of all, small gifts from your home state to give to friends. They'll come in handy when you make friends!
Responsibilities as an ETA are largely dependent on the faculty members you work with. For some of my classes, I get total creative freedom when making lessons. Others ask me to follow general themes. Still others basically just use me as a conversational tool in class. All of my classes are fun, though!
I think the most important thing to remember is that you should be flexible, and communicate with your department as much as possible.
I studied abroad without a computer, and lemme tell you, it's a pain in the ass. You will need a laptop. Also, make sure you know what kind of electrical plugs they use and bring an adapter if you need one (if you don't, bring a surge protector). If you want to bring your phone, make sure it's unlocked or it won't work with foreign SIM cards. Otherwise, pack smart: unless you know for a fact that they don't have something you'll need, take a few days' supply of toothpaste/soap/etc. and stock up when you get there. You probably won't need linens and stuff, but if you do just buy them there.
The teaching part varies wildly depending on country and individual host. Some, like mine, will just put you in a room with thirty students on day one and tell you to teach ("You already speak English, how hard could it be?"). Others will want to prep you, some have definite curricula, some will have large lectures, some will have small groups. You just gotta go with the flow and be as earnest and patient as you can.
Do you see a prosperous future for Russia with Putin at the helm of power? I certainly don't. A fundamental component of democracy is the consensus among the populace that its voice has influence. If the people don't even believe their voice is heard, isn't Russia wrongly named a democratic republic? Secondly, will you elaborate on your statement that "we might have to view his years in power as a necessary evil for Russia."? I understand Putin isn't going to "roll over" and disappear on his own, but do you think there is no way to at least enforce or pressure him toward positive change? Do you think the Magnitsky Act will be effective, and garner anything more than a retaliatory act along the lines of the recent adoption controversy? I see a prosperous future for Russia with Putin at the helm as long as oil matters. He can stretch this comfortably for at least another 2 terms, as I see it. He may or may not do this. Russia is not a traditional democratic republic, but it does have a constitution that will allow it to become one eventually.
Of course there are ways to put pressure on Putin. However, I doubt that's the wisest thing to do right now. In a lot of ways, it might do greater good in the world to leave the pressure up to Russia's population and focus on working with Putin right now. The last "Reset" was a good attempt at this, but it fell apart during the last election cycle when we started calling the government out on its voting processes. Had we not pulled that stunt, I believe USAID would still be providing help to Russian farmers today, rather than being kicked out of the country. Heck, we might have even had a solution in Syria by now (much less likely). The Magnitsky Act will be successful in putting a very small bit of pressure on Putin, sure. But in the end, I doubt this benefit outweighs the detriment caused to thousands of Russian orphans.
I completely agree with your statement about the Magnitsky Act and adoption situation. Edit: Better word usage.
You know, main problem when situation in Russia observes from Western POV is that people do not separate Putin, Kremlin and State Duma but they are presents very very different forces in our government elite. I agree very much with that sentiment. People back home ask me all the time what I think about this or that new policy in Moscow, and I have to constantly remind them that the way it is in Moscow isn't the way it is everywhere else.
I think that you heard about scandal with our former defence minister Serdyukov - do you know real background for his resign? ) It's a rumour but i assume that it's probably very close to be true. As for Serdyukov, I know the official reason he was fired was corruption-related. However, I've heard that the real reason was he had angered his father-in-law, who just happens to be a Gazprom exec. Is there a rumor beyond those reasons?
Was it hard for you to live in russian climate in the begining? Especially in St. Petersburg with it's unpredictable weather? How do you deal with frosts? It's cold, so you wear more clothes. It's cold, so you learn to deal with people telling you it's cold and insisting that you're freezing when you're not as cold as they think you are. It's cold so you wear even more clothes so people stop bugging you about wearing more clothes and then all of a sudden it's -25 and you're glad you're wearing all the clothes you're wearing.
I'm from the shore of California, it's my first winter and I feel good, the face is hardest to protect, so I make sure to keep my face and lips hydrated. The great thing about Russia is that they really have indoor heating down. I am always warm at home, at work, and at school. I sit in shorts and a t-shirt and even open the window at night to breathe. I couldn't do this in California where it was 40 degrees outside, and 50 degrees inside the house, and had to sit at all times in sweaters and blankets just to be comfortable (even though it wasn't THAT cold outside).
Unfortunately, none of us live in Peter, but I'll be visiting for the first time at the end of this week.
As for my region's weather, it was rainy when I got here, then snowy, then the snow melted just enough to later re-freeze and coat the city in ice. Walking is difficult, but other than that, it's not so bad. It's about -20 C every day.
However, other Fulbrighters have worse conditions. This is also the coldest winter Russia has had in 20 years, apparently, and it's only just begun. I have a feeling we'll all be tired of the cold by next month.
I never had snow growing up (another Californian here), so I love it. Sure, it's been between 20 and 30 degrees Celcius below zero, but it's really cool. The only bad thing is that apparently every summer everyone forgets how to deal with winter, so you have a lot of people "cleaning up" in ways that turn long stretches of sidewalk into a complete deathtrap.
It wasn't hard in the beginning, but it's getting there now. The last few days it's been hovering around -30' C. I'm not far from St Pete, but fortunately we don't get the awful rain that they do. I've heard only bad things about the weather, though.
Hi Katelynnlindsey - can you talk a little about Chuvashia and language study out there. WHat family is the language in? What's it related to? How many living speakers are there? Do you already speak Russian? Hi! Sorry for the late reply, we have been celebrating Christmas here and the family just went to bed :) I see you commented below, but I will add here just in case, Chuvash is a Turkic language, related to Tatar, Turkish and obviously other Turkic languages. It is considered the most different Turkish language, the last spoken language in the Bulgaric group in the Turkic family with lots of Finno-ugric influence. Chuvash is therefore very important for historical linguists interested in recreating proto-Turkic. There are approximately 1.2 million speakers according to the last census, but I'm doing research here, that may prove that those census results may be very unreliable. Nearly all speakers are bilingual, and while there are positive attitudes toward the language in rural areas, the language is not quite as accepted in the cities. I speak Russian at an advanced level. Well enough to forget that I'm speaking a foreign language at times, and I'm learning Chuvash three hours a week.
Вы бы лучше дрались с сотней уток размером с лошадь, или с сотней лошадей размером с утку? Oh man, normal-sized ducks are already way too rapey for comfort.
I'll refrain from answering in Russian, for clarity's sake. I used to have a mentally disabled bottle-fed foal. Every day was a fight when I tried to feed him, since he'd get really excited about the food. He eventually broke his own neck by falling down (poor guy).
The upshot is, I feel as though the experience I've gained by fighting one half-sized horse once a day has prepared me for fighting 100 duck-sized horses at one time. Bring them on.
How the food? I'm a cook and interested so if you can, explain what you like, and what it is. How hard is it to learn the language? I can read cyrillic and pronounce it, the letters all make pronunciation clear, but haven't gotten into much else other than a few words and phrases. The biggest difference I've noticed in food is the quality of some ingredients. Stuff that grows in warm weather is generally pale, sour, and/or beat to shit. Dairy here is amazing, as are baked goods and sausages (though you really have to know if it's a good factory or not - Roshinsky's a pretty good one). Certain kinds of fish are to die for. There's one called gorbusha (hunchback) that's really delicious dried as a beer snack. Otherwise, lots of winter vegetables and soups (full of bay leaves and peppercorns). There are spices that can be hard to find here, especially anything from Latin America or any specific East Asian spice (almost none of my Russian friends care that there's any difference between China, Japan, and Korea, and spice importers apparently don't either). Honestly, how hard the language is depends on you. For me it's not too hard (I'm at the point where my heavily American spatial reasoning and semantic instincts are screwing with my verb usage). The main thing is practice. It's easy enough to teach yourself to read, but you need to speak it every day. Hopefully with someone who can correct you every time you phrase something weird.
What are the differences in day-to-day life in Russia compared to the states? Day-to-day life is very different in some ways, especially regarding transportation. There's this whole etiquette about being on public transport here that drives some foreigners crazy. Russians in general don't have the same compunctions about personal space that we do, which can be both hilarious and maddening when the three-foot-wide babushka on the bus decides she can fit through the ten inches of space to your left. There ends up being a lot of pushing, but it's not malicious or aggressive. It's just all about getting as close as physically possible to where you want to be regardless of the obstacles. Also it's cold as balls here and everyone is apparently surprised that it is, in fact, as cold as they've been telling me it would be. The language is tough but not unmanageable. I had (and, presumably, still have) one of the weaker language backgrounds of the people in my program. I'm frequently inconvenienced by it, but I can get by in most situations, and since foreigners are quite rare in my town, most people are patient and excited to help. A store clerk wound up becoming a language exchange partner. The food bad. The food real bad. But seriously, it's all sour cream and dill, all the time. However, I can eat twice a day at the school cafeteria and have never paid over $3 for a meal there, so at least the food is cheap.
Day-to-day life is pretty much the same, to me. I go to work, I hang out at home, I go to the bar, and I go for walks. Except it's all in Russia. Same old, same old, day after day (except when I go to new towns).
Did you guys know anyone in Russia before going over there? Do you live alone? I'd love to apply for a Fulbright but I can't imagine being all by myself in a foreign country! I know some people in Moscow, but here in Izhevsk, I was all alone at first. Luckily, there were plenty of new potential friends in my dorm, and many of them speak English and Russian, meaning that we can all practice together!
The main thing to remember is that in many places, it's much easier to make friends when you're a foreigner. Even if you're an otherwise boring person, the fact that you're from somewhere different means you'll always have something to talk about with the locals.
I knew someone here in Cheboksary, but its easier to make friends then you might think!
You won't really be all by yourself. A lot of the hosts put their Fulbrighters in the dorms. Just like starting college, except you're both the cool older kid and the cool foreign kid all at once.
People are so excited to make you feel welcome that you wind up being smothered. For about a month, I never was home when the sun was up. It was exhausting, but much better than being abandoned in a foreign country with no one to talk to.
I saw you went to Moscow a few summers ago, were you by any chance studying at МГУ? Nope, I was at МосГУ, a satellite campus for Humanities located near Вухино station. Awful neighborhood and a dinky campus, but I still had a ton of fun there!
Is the population really aware of corruption? I know in major cities that is true (note the protests this past year), but I have reason to believe people are ill-informed on the countryside. They have little access to modern technology, and newspapers are often propagandized in those more rural areas. Despite some of his utterly ridiculous policies, Putin's approval ratings have never dropped below 60%. IMO, people have been blinded to the truth in Russia because of improved living conditions and improved economic prosperity since Putin gained power. What do you think? A pretty common mentality that i've found here is that people are aware of problems, but feel that they are helpless and that nothing they do can/will change these problems, so they push forward expecting nothing to change. I'm studying the slow decline of the Chuvash language in Chuvashia, and collecting a survey throughout the republic. Of the 500+ surveys I have collected, I have received a resounding 6/6 "do you want your children to speak Chuvash" and a 3/6 "do you think your grandchildren will speak Chuvash". Not everyone is like this, and obviously the young people all over Russia and those in Moscow and St. Petersburg are learning that you can fight for what you think is right, but the older generations grew up in a different world. Just my experience.
The population is very, very aware of corruption. Believe it or not, corruption is actually reported on in the TV news. For example, there was recently a scandal about my Republic's governor wearing a watch no politician could afford on their official salary. I found out about it from Россия 2 (TV station) before I saw it on the internet. The media is hamstrung, but that doesn't mean that they pump pure propaganda through the airwaves.
As for Putin's approval rating, I wouldn't say people are "blinded" by economic prosperity. I'd say they are impressed by it and want it to continue. To many people, the lack of a free media and some suspect policies is preferable to the hyperinflation and insecurity seen before Putin was elected. Where I'm from, that's called accepting the devil you know over the devil you don't.
That said, I also know plenty of Russians who hate Putin. A lot of them were thoroughly disgusted by the adoption ban that's been proposed. There are no open protests on the streets, but the general overtone is one of disapproval, mixed with accepting resignation that there might not be a better option yet. I can't say that I disagree.
I am not necessarily pro-Putin, but as someone who is going on to start my PhD in International Relations when I get back and a subscriber to the "benevolent dictator" theory of development, I think we might have to view his years in power as a necessary evil for Russia.
Last updated: 2012-12-28 04:51 UTC
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