In my life, a few times I ran into dead ends where there was nothing I could do in the straightforward way; the people were right to refuse me, according to the official rules.But once I could find people who knew someone inside the system, a month wait would turn into just a few hours wait or they would find a place for me where they said the rules would not allow them to give me one.I think it was an excellent system since people had the opportunity to attend theatres from the early age, starting from attending performances in a Muppet theatre, then moving to the Youth Drama Theatre, then to Drama, Musical and Opera, according to their age.
Intellectually, Russians are interesting people to talk to and enjoy deep subjects.
Philosophy is still a mandatory subject when you study for a degree and one of the 3 compulsory subjects for Ph D qualifying exam (the other 2 are foreign language and the specialty itself).
This is why they maintain more friendships than an average westerner.
They often have to rely on their friends to help them out.
Russian saying is, "One is not a soldier in the battlefield".
In Russia, one still needs to know people in power to make things work.In the same secondary school course (11 years school qualification is mandatory in Russia) they study world literature, world music, and world geography.Many books of western authors are mandatory reading in the course of literature (in Russian translation of course).Their general knowledge is very good: they know a little bit about virtually everything.At secondary schools, they study not only the history of Russia but also the world history, including American and European history.When Russian people talk about movie theatres, they will usually say "cinema"; if they talk about "theatres", they mean live performances.