Ulan Ude, Russia

  • Date
  • 26 July 1999

I met two Russian women today. The first, Irina, is a 19-year-old studying German and English at the local university. She has worked as a deejay since 16 when she returned from a one-year abroad program in the US. She graduated from a high school in Oregon and continues to stay in touch with her host family. While in the States, she traveled around the country to the biggest cities and sights, but liked Orlando and Disney World best of all. Her favorite music group: The Beatles. She also listens to Mariah Carey, Madonna and the Wallflowers. Later in the day, I met 26 year old Anna, a schoolteacher at the Mechanical Institute and mother of three-year-old Alex. Anna’s parents are Russian and Buryat. She told me that Buryats from the East are traditional and women obey the words of the monarch. Eastern Buryat women are told who to marry, when to marry, when to have babies, when to bury their husbands, etc. She said the Western Buryats have been ‘Europeanized’ and the ways of living are more lenient for women.

We talked about women and prostitution, which she says, is not as rampant as I think. She said that most Russian towns are too small for women to prostitute themselves since everyone knows everyone. I told here where I’ve seen it most has been at hotels aimed at tourists, not locals. She said prostitution is ‘worse’ now than before Communism fell.

Anna said most Russian women look to condoms for birth control. Married women who have had two children tend to have a coil inserted (metal plate outlawed in the US) for birth control. The coil lasts for five years and then they have another one inserted.