Society » Real life stories
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russifying American Men

After six years of living in Russia, Jack is not sure if he wants to live in the States

Living in a foreign country always changes people. Jack Michael Ruter was very influenced with six years of work at the department of philology at the Mordovia State University. He arrived in the Russian city of Saransk, the republic of Mordovia, in 1992, to have a language practice. At that time he was a student of the Helsinki University. His professional interest in Finno-Ugric languages and the scholastic work appeared later.

Ruter believes, the current situation in Russia has changed for the better in comparison with the time of the crazy democracy in the beginning of the 1990s. "At least, if you go to a grocery store now, you will not see computers on sale there," Jacks says. About three or four years ago, Jack was a remarkable man for the citizens of Mordovia. He changed his comfortable living in the States to living in Russia. However, Mr. Ruter does not think so himself. Some things in Russia definitely surprised him in the beginning, but then he got used to them. Leaving for Russia, he could not imagine that he would have to live in a dormitory. The American citizen thought, the university administration would give him at least a small apartment, where he would work.

Jack woke up one fine morning and decided to have a shower. To his great surprise, he discovered there was only cold water running from the tap. A certain time later, the American man found out that the absence of hot water in Russia was not a consequence of a water-supply emergency - it was a common thing in Russian people's everyday lives.

On New Year's night, Jack had to deal with another problem - muddy drops of water started falling down on the set table from the ceiling. The neighbors were not at home, so he had to see the New Year with jars and cans on the table. Jack got used to living in a dormitory with time. The only thing that still irritates him is the duty to wash the floors in the dormitory.

When Jack Ruter entered the University of Mordovia, the first thing that attracted his attention, was the absence of vending machines that sell water. They are very common in America, but in a Russian university one can buy just cakes. In Jack's opinion, Russian students are like American ones - there are inveterate lazy fellows among Russian students too.

Ruter met his wife in Estonia. Now they have two sons - Willy and Henry. Jack and his family live in two rooms in the dormitory. His salary is about 3,000 rubles, which is about $100. Of course, these wages can not be compared to the income that an American professor gets in the States. When Jack fell ill, he found out that the medical aid in Russia has nothing to do with insurance. In America, every employee has an insurance, people pay a certain percent of their salary for it, and if an employee falls ill, they will be provided a necessary sum of money for the treatment. "As far as I could guess, they hardly ever practice that in Russia. If a patient wants to go through a common medical examination, they will have to stay at hospital for a whole week. In addition to it, one has to buy medicines themselves, because hospitals are very poor," Jack says.

Three years ago, all the Ruters family went to the USA for a short visit. Jack's friends all said that he had become Russian, someone even mentioned that he had obtained a Russian accent. People were asking Jack about the everyday life in Russia, they were less interested in places of interest. In America, Jack suddenly realized that he was missing Russia. He was missing bus stops, he was missing traditional Russian meals. The Ruters celebrate Christmas twice - on December 25th and on January 7th. Catholic Christmas is traditionally celebrated with turkey.

Jack does not know, if he wants to return to the States for good. Of course, he is greatly attracted to his home, but he is used to living in Russia, because every person's life is closely connected with the people dear to their hearts.

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