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Am I Russian or Danish?

Anja Navadvorskaya. (Photo by Delphin Tshiembe)

Blog |   26. Aug 2019

Anja Navadvorskaya

On my solo-backpacking trip to Mexico, I met wonderful travelers from different countries. Many of them were from South America, and I noticed how passionate they were about their native countries and how much they loved talking about them. What I noticed, even more, was how strange it made me feel that I didn’t have the desire to jump in with my patriotism.

You might wonder why and so do I.

I believe that some of my feelings are caused by the fact that every time I mention that I’m Russian people start talking about vodka with a deep voice like James Earl Jones in Star Wars. Usually, the talk quickly moves from vodka to Putin and promiscuous Russian girls.

My conclusion after having an eternal discussion with my overthinking mind is that I don’t completely feel that I belong in my mother country. I’m generally very confused about whether I’m Russian or Danish, and I feel that I have to choose between them. I have Danish citizenship, but I have Russian parents.

So, what does that make me?

I enjoy Russian borscht and blinis, dating shows and humor, but the list isn’t long. Gender inequality is very evident in Russia, and that’s hard to accept when you live in Denmark. At some point, my uncle whom I hardly know and haven’t seen since I was little, came to visit. He told me that a “real” gentleman wouldn’t let his wife work and finished the conversation by telling me that I should skip the cake, in order to be the “best” version of myself.

I ate two pieces of cake and left.

The day after he couldn’t even remember telling me. Maybe he went a little overboard with the red wine. Maybe he didn’t mean for it to be taken that seriously, but it still left an unpleasant feeling.

I’m well aware that he’s from a different time and that I should try to understand him somehow. But that’s easier said than done. I’m afraid that it’s situations like these that weaken my connection to my roots, as well as the fact that I don’t really have Russian friends my age.

The fact that I came to Denmark as a little girl explains why I find myself being mostly Danish. I’ve been brought up on hygge, a liberal mindset and an appreciation for the welfare society. However, I can’t evade being Russian. In wintertime, I never go outside with wet hair because my Russian Babushka always told me that I would get sick. I still visit the orthodox church now and then, re-watch old Soviet cartoons and, like every Russian girl, I’d never dream of leaving the house with ladders in my stockings.

Yes, ladders in stockings are considered just as scary as a five-thirty alarm on a Monday morning.

Anja Navadvorskaya. (Photo by Delphin Tshiembe)


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