from On Life in St.Petersburg by Liz Hulley

One thing Americans and Russians have in common is that they both like to complain about the weather, hot or cold. I have a friend from the extreme north of Russia, and she’s always cold. However, when I was in Congo, I didn’t hear any of the locals complain about the heat. But then again, I didn’t understand most of what was said. 🙂 I would say it’s characteristic of all humans to worry about physical comfort, but I haven’t polled everyone yet…

As you know, it’s been a warm summer in Russia. While we often wish for “real summer” in St. Petersburg, we forget that hot weather is only fun if you can hang out on a beach and jump in the lake, not if you are required to go to work, do remont (home renovations), cook anything that requires heat, get a good night’s sleep, ride the public transportation, go outside at all, wear anything long-sleeved…

It’s been interesting observing how the extreme weather uniquely affects life in northern Russia. If in Massachusetts the warmer temperatures prompted us to get our first air conditioner (instead of the usual assortment of fans), St. Petersburgers are buying their first fans, ever.

This humorous list has been circulating the Russian web. If you’ve been here at all in the summer, you may appreciate it.

-when choosing a restaurant, you don’t consider the menu, you consider the air-conditioning (McDonald’s!)

-you could care less* about the hot water being turned off (this happens for 3 weeks every summer)

-you think that showering twice a day is too little

-you now like to go out only after 11 pm (that’s when the sun finally goes down)

-you think 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) is chilly

-you think that the best food is okroshka (chilled soup) with ice cubes, and the thought of a barbecue makes you gag

-you tried buying a fan in 10 different stores and failed (see: snow shovel shortage, Winter 2009-10; rubber boot shortage, Spring 2010)

-you’ve thought for the first time about buying an air conditioner for your home

-you sleep on the floor with a wet bedsheet and that is just fine with you

-your windows are covered by foil or other reflective material, and you don’t care that it’s dark in the room

-you’ve practically forgotten how to boil soup and fry meat or potatoes

-you’ve forgotten how to iron and what an iron even looks like

-the three most frequented websites on your browser are weather sites, and you look at them at least 3 times a day (okay, 10 in my case)

-you longingly look at travel guides for Norway and Finland…

-the words “come here, let me give you a hug,” can create a scandal (agreed…a handshake is almost TOO much contact at this point)

-you eagerly jump out of bed in the morning, “to work, to work!” because in the office there is air conditioning (or “to the grocery store!”)

-you take off for Egypt, because it’s cooler there

*meaning, you couldn’t care less. I was going to fix the grammar, but then it wouldn’t be conversational. I came across a lot of forums calling Americans stupid for saying “I could care less” when it means the opposite. So I decided to use it anyway, just to exercise my patriotism.