What do Americans think about Russian apartments?
Our American friend Tom recently returned to the United States after a trip to Russia, and I could not miss the opportunity to ask him about all the nuances and impressions of this trip. Tom traveled to Russia to visit his bride and was in the family of her relatives and friends. He briefly penetrated our life, and it was especially interesting to hear his impressions of things that I was used to. So, that was unusual for an American in our apartments.
“You’re counting rooms very strange,” Tom began. “Katya (the bride - ed.) Said that her aunt had a three-room apartment, but it turned out that there were only 2 bedrooms and there was no dining room…”. The fact is that in America there is a completely different number of rooms than ours. The concept is embedded in the description of American housing: the number of bedrooms, and the living room, dining room and kitchen will be by default. And also, a bedroom can be considered a room in which there is a built-in wardrobe or an exit to the dressing room, otherwise it cannot be called a bedroom, but you can position it as an office, for example. If we count in American terms, then our usual three-ruble note will be: 2-bed room apartment (apartment with 2 bedrooms) without a dining room. And if we consider that not all of our bedrooms have built-in wardrobes, then our treshka risks going into a non-residential fund.
“Your houses have very flat ceilings,” said Tom, and I almost fell off my chair from such words. I remember my mother constantly complained about the unevenness of the ceiling tiles in our apartment, and here is such a statement from Tom. However, he meant something quite different.
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In almost all American apartments, the ceilings are in small bumps, and dust constantly gets stuck in them. This is a special coating with which American developers solve the problem of noise insulation. After this procedure, it does not become ideally quiet in the apartments, but without it, things are very bad. Not surprisingly, compared to American hillocks, our ceilings seem perfectly flat. I want to make a reservation that lumpy ceilings are a nuance of American rental housing. In private homes, such coverage is usually not used.
Where are the smoke detectors?
“Why don't you have smoke detectors in your apartments? I looked, but they were not in my apartment, nor in the apartments of Katya's friends and relatives. And what if there is a fire? ”- reasoned Tom. All American residential properties have smoke and fire detectors that are linked to local fire departments. In case of fire, the fire brigade arrives in a matter of minutes (we personally checked this). The presence of these sensors gives some kind of inner peace, and their absence - on the contrary. That's how Tom is. “The first two days after I realized that there were no sensors, I was afraid to fall asleep in that apartment. I lived there all alone, and suddenly there was a fire and I would suffocate with smoke in my sleep, and no one would save me in a foreign country… ”, - Tom complained. Oh poor fellow, he has endured.
“In Russia, they don't like toast in the morning,” Tom said confidently. "Why do you think so?" - I was indignant, - in Russia they like toasts in the morning. " “No,” Tom insisted. - You don't even have toasters anywhere. Katya's relatives do not have a toaster, and I did not find a toaster in my rented apartment in the kitchen either. And you can't buy bread for toast in every store ... ”, argued Tom. But he is right, I thought, compared to Americans, Russians are less obsessed with toasts, and therefore not everyone has toasters. In America, morning toast with jam or peanut butter is a kind of American tradition. There are toasters in every kitchen and are used consistently every morning. Large families have large toasters for 6 or 8 slices of bread so that there is enough toast for everyone.
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“People always close their windows with curtains in the evening and open them again in the morning. Is this a Russian tradition? ”Tom continued to amuse me. But it’s true, I thought, when darkness comes, our windows are immediately curtained. Why is that? Probably a simple habit, I was taught to do this by my parents, for example. In America, if anyone has curtains on the windows, they perform a purely decorative function and are not used as a “pick-up” on the windows. There are also blinds on every American window; they are installed right during construction, like a washbasin in a bathroom or a waste disposer in a kitchen. With their help, the Americans protect themselves from the scorching sunlight during the day, but not from prying eyes in the evening. When darkness falls, windows in the United States usually remain open. I still do not cease to be surprised at this, because walking along the evening streets, you can see what the Americans are doing in their apartments. The same could not understand our habits and continued to ask the question: why are windows closed in Russia? To my argument “so that strangers do not look into the house,” he asked a counter question: “Why would anyone need to do this?”. "Oh, Tom, it's hard with you!"
“You have a lot of doors and locks. The apartment where I lived had 2 doors and 3 locks. The landlord insisted that I close at least 2 when I leave the house. It was very difficult for me, I always forgot to do it. I just slammed the door and went down the stairs, and then I remembered and had to come back to close the doors with a key, ”Tom tells me. “Katya also has two doors and a lot of keys. My Boston apartment has only one door and one lock that can be slammed shut. I only lock the door if I'm going away for a long time. Why are there so many castles in Russia? ”Tom concluded. “For safety, for protection…” I replied. “For safety? - Tom asked - Isn't it the police? ”. Yes, some things are hard to explain to Americans.
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In the States, locks are often placed on the front doors, which can be found on our interior doors. I remember my shock from the castle in our first rental apartment. The lock was in the door handle and did not inspire confidence at all. It was possible to knock him out by pushing the door with his shoulder, but this does not bother the Americans at all. Such locks are installed everywhere in the States at the front door, and I'm already used to it, and Tom, probably, too.
“It's not safe in your apartments,” Tom said suddenly. Well, finally, I thought, it came. “That's what I'm talking about. That is why they put two doors and several locks in our apartments ... ”, - I began. “No, - Tom didn't let me finish, - two doors are not safe! Your outer doors open outward. What if there is a fire? Everyone opens doors outward and creates a congestion for unobstructed stairs. The doors may not open at all if something supports them from the outside. And your doors, which cannot be opened from the inside without a key, are generally wrong! There was a fire in the apartment, but I have to run and look for keys to leave the house? ”. But he's right, I thought. And why didn’t I have such questions when I lived at home? After all, my apartment also had two front doors ...
Yes, in the States there are other sockets and switches, but I never expected to hear about our switches that they were “funny”. But Tom called them that: funny and pot-bellied switches. They are as large as for people with poor eyesight, and sockets with round holes ”…“ Oh, Tom, are your switches, like chickens' beaks, not funny? Let's leave the comparisons, otherwise we'll have a fight ... ”.
Did you know that not air conditioners are installed in our apartments, but split-systems? So I, to my shame, found out about it when I came to the States and saw a real conditioner. But Tom immediately noticed this moment, saying: “Probably in Russia there are a lot of rich people, because a box from a split system hangs on every wall. In America, the majority prefers window air conditioners. ”
The noisy, buzzing box that obscures the window does a good job of cooling American apartments, but ruins the exterior a lot. But our usual split-systems, unambiguously, look more aesthetically pleasing. Tom also had the opportunity to get acquainted with our split systems (he had a split system in his rented apartment in Russia) and, although he did not use it, he noted that it was a window that was not occupied by air conditioning and a small box under the ceiling was great!
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And about Tom's remarks about the high cost of split-systems (compared to air conditioners) I would like to note: in fact, the price difference for an air conditioner and a split system in the States is not fatal, but the cost of installation services can result in a tidy sum. Therefore, many Americans (especially those who live in apartments) make a choice in favor of window air conditioners, which can be inserted into the window opening and used without resorting to the services of a specialist. But with a split system so easy and cheap will not work.
“Your houses have very wide sills near the windows. There may not be any in the States at all, ”Tom said. The reason is very simple - the small thickness of the walls in American houses, hence the centimeter-long window sills. I once watched the construction of a house next door in Boston and was amazed at the speed of construction and what it is built from.
Strange vacuum cleaner
Another thing that surprised Tom was the vacuum cleaner. In his opinion, it was inconvenient to use, and the American counterparts are more practical. Here really - who is used to what. American vacuum cleaners resemble a pregnant mop and to clean the room you need to roll back and forth the entire structure of the motor, garbage bag and everything that is located in the body of our vacuum cleaners. How can this be convenient?
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