Foreigners speak: what’s great about Minsk residents and what’s lacking
A group of expats from across the globe willingly share their candid thoughts on Minskers. They believe some things are actually awesome about local people but there are also aspects which need reconsideration and improvement. Some eye-opening opinions are below.
Wang Fa (China), lives in Minsk for 2 years
It is much easier to make an acquaintance in Minsk than in Beijing. Chinese traditions envisage certain rules regarding personal data, imposing formal restrictions. In Minsk, you can easily talk to a stranger as local people are not so conservative. Certainly, young Belarusians are more open for communication and it’s more challengeable to talk to the elderly as it’s sometimes possible to create an awkward situation as a result. People of the older generation treat the language use stricter than the youth usually but, actually, this is not a problem.
I’m not sure that the nationality influences communication with close friends. I make no distinction between my friends from China and Belarus. There are no issues which I’d fail to discuss with them.
In truth, only one idea comes to my mind speaking of Minskers’ conversation-awareness. They need to provide reliable information when holding a conversation. You should know something of people, their nation and the subject of talk. It happens that people know little or fail to check the facts; as a result, ridiculous situations might occur. For example, one guy asked me why people eat dogs in China. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing when you unsure of the facts.
Ayman Abasah (Syria), lives in Minsk for 22 years
After coming to Minsk, I managed to get acquainted with a great number of people much faster than I expected. In a short period of time, my circle of acquaintances considerably extended. I feel more comfortable to communicate with people of the same age but, due to my work, I deal with people from all age groups. I’d love to say that Minskers are usually open to communication: local people are well-wishing and open-hearted. Meanwhile, I can’t but admit that these features come to the fore only when you initiate the conversation. Sadly, Minskers fail to easily take an initiative.
Actually, Minsk residents are neat but this is not always natural for their manner of talk. Meanwhile, this is important for the first impression – making it more pleasant. Talking to such people is always a joy.
Certainly, there are some problems as well. On coming here for the first time, I was personally much disappointed on learning that only few people here spoke English: I was surprised to know that the global language was ignored here. From my point of view, the situation has improved by now – not only because I’ve learnt Russian.
It might seem banal but Minskers fail to always demonstrate positive attitude to life and smile seldom. They should not be so much stressed. I’d love them to talk more about Minsk and Belarus. It’s sad to realise that the nation – which has such rich culture and beautiful nature – fail to share this information with others. I’ve visited many countries where tourists could easily get information about local sights. In Belarus, the situation is different. For example, I’ve heard of the Nalibokskaya Pushcha’s attractions only after staying in Belarus for twenty years. There are many other wonderful places here but it seems people fail to appreciate them or even hide these from others.
Maël Theo Duval (France), stays in Minsk as part of a business trip
I’ve come to Minsk as part of my work and, accordingly my social circle is limited. However, it would not be correct to say I lack someone. I communicate with people of different ages and must admit it’s a great pleasure to talk to all of them.
My communication usually takes place during my work. I feel that our meetings aren’t formal much owing to Minskers’ benevolence. Certainly, it is difficult to talk exclusively about business after 12 working hours. We all want to relax after work and, accordingly, informal communication is still important.
Speaking of the manner of talking, I believe Minskers are too quiet. I mean not their way to express emotions but the pace: sometimes, people here are excessively slow.
What do Minskers need? Probably, they should be more diplomatic and keep distance. From my point of view, local people enter others’ zone of comfort too quickly – asking questions of their private life just after beginning a conversation. Every dog has his day. Generally speaking, it would be challengeable for an introvert to live in this city.
Dmitry Reshetov (Germany), lives in Minsk for 11 years
I’m a permanent resident of Minsk and I have a great number of absolutely different acquaintances. Minskers are nice in business contacts and informal communication and I cannot say anything bad of them. Among their positive features are temperate communicability and politeness. In my opinion, jointly with some restricted emotions, these features make them resemble north Europeans. Close friends and unfamiliar people are not much distinguished.
I wish Minskers would step away from their unnecessary stolidity. They should demonstrate more positive emotions as this will help them attract attention of their interlocutors. This doesn’t mean that they should smile anytime and anywhere. It is necessary to find the sweet spot in this respect.
Generally speaking, Minskers lack liveliness: as I notice, people’s activity is purely one-sided. No doubt, you’ll receive an answer on speaking to them but they seldom make an appeal even if they have their own need. I’d love to see Minskers being able to express their opinions not only as answers to questions.
Shamilka Samarasinha (Sri Lanka), lives in Minsk for 3 years
Since my coming to Minsk, it’s become much easier to communicate with people. Firstly, in three years of my staying here, the number of English-speaking Minskers has risen and I meet more optimistic people. Certainly, it is not so easy to find someone to talk to in the street but it’s possible to meet people any age and sex in public places, shops, coffee bars.
I believe people’s ability to communicate should not depend on the nationality and residency. The same could be said of an emotional response. Everything depends on circumstances. A person would be more reserved at work rather than during a picnic with their friends. This is fine. It’s also not bad to frown when the weather is unpleasant. I, personally, wouldn’t have smiled if I hadn’t seen the sunlight for ages.
With this in mind, it’s probably sometimes necessary to have an easy attitude to life. There is no need to justify negative communication experience by national features when the real reason is rooted in coincidence.
Translated by Olga Shymak
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