Last Saturday a miracle happened: the sun was finally shining and the thermometer hit 18 degrees. Apparently the spring rite of maslenitsa which I attended a month ago did its work; eating the microwaved pancakes and burning the straw puppet paid off! So, what to do with this lovely day? The parks in the city weren’t really appealing, the grass was still trying to recovering from the winter spent under layers of snow and the Russians never have heard of this amazing thing called a terrace in the sun with a good beer.
So I was more than happy when my Russian friend invited me up to a barbecue in the woods. Going to the barbecue not only meant getting involved in some of Russia’s favourite activities: grilling shashliks and drinking vodka, but also to meet a whole bunch of new Russian people.
And sure it was made clear that Russians love their shashliks and a nice bottle of vodka. We weren’t the only group who came up with the idea to go the forest and have a barbecue. At the forest glade multiple families and friends celebrated the first good weather. It was one of the most Russian phenomes I’ve seen so far.
The guys prepared the fire and the meat and the girls prepared the vegetables. In the meantime the guys opened up a bottle of vodka. And when you open a bottle of vodka in Russia, you need to finish it. 😉 So it didn’t take long before the guitar appeared and the first traditional songs were sung.
Meeting this group of friends and colleagues gave me so many new insights into Russian culture. Their view on relationships is quite traditional, for instance most of the couples in their early twenties were married and there was a clear division of labour, and not only at the barbecue but also back at home.
Another remarkable thing was the fact that every barbecuing group had at least one man dressed in a military costume present. Just because they are proud that they once served in the army, they like to show off their uniform in their free time.
This lovely sunny afternoon spend in the forest made me part of the real daily life for a while in a country where I’m just a visitor. Once again another reason why I just love studying abroad!
By Evelijn Hillebrand