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Anastasia  Varfolomeeva  (Russian Fed.)

Anastasia Varfolomeeva (Russian Fed.)

Anastasia Varfolomeeva is the featured student in this issue of the multimedia English_For_You Web Magazine. Anastasia Varfolomeeva,  lives and works in Moscow, Russia as an Import and Export Operations Specialist! Discover more about Anastasia by reading the intriguing and interesting topics that she has chosen to share with us such as “Cognitive Distortions”, “Visiting Russia”, and “My Wedding Abroad” which is a lovely reportage of her own recent wedding in Greece!  Happy reading! Enjoy! : )  English_For_You!

 

COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS

How to make the right decision? It seems like a simple question but it is not. We all know many people who are hostages of their own prejudices. How many times have we made a decision based on a group opinion?

It is called Cognitive Distortions (CD) and can be a barrier to your self-development. Maybe, it is human nature, but you can still keep your perceptions under control. In this essay, I would like to tell you about the most common cognitive distortions.

One of the most popular CDs is the “illusion of control”-  which is when you think that you control things, that in reality cannot be controlled. There is a well-known humorous experiment which measured the results of investment predictions obtained by 1) professional investors from Wall Street and 2) chimpanzees selecting certain portfolios by throwing darts. As you have probably guessed, the results obtained by the professional investors were not much better than the results of the chimpanzees. However, if you asked one of these investors about how important their analytical skills were in predicting results, they certainly would have said that they were very important!

Here below is a cartoon strip showing another example of CD….”the illusion of control!” We may think that we are God but we are not!  : )

Cognitive Distortions (1)   cartoon

 Asch Paradigm

Another important paradigm is the Asсh Paradigm aka the Asch Conformity Experiments which were a series of physiological experiments directed by Solomon Asch, demonstrating that an individual’s own opinions are influenced by those of a group majority. Here below is a very interesting video that illustrates this concept.

By the way here another excellent video about this topic, unfortunately, it is only in Russian! But if you speak Russian, I am sure you will enjoy watching this video!

 Anchoring

Another cognitive bias that should be avoided is “anchoring” which occurs when you use specific prejudices or “anchors” to form your opinion. For example: You want to buy a souvenir in Egypt. You know that the seller will probably ask a high price. After you hear the price you are ready to haggle, but the final price is rarely less than two times the initial one. And that final price  – is also a trap!

However, if you as the tourist had tried NOT to ask the seller the price, but to GIVE your own price, you would have been in a stronger position to negotiate than the seller, because the price would have been the anchor of the conversation.

Here below is a vignette which clearly shows another example of anchoring!

Cognitive Distortions (2)  Victim of anchoring bias

In conclusion, I would like to mention one other well-known cognitive distortion associated with this same phenomenon, namely, the  syndrome of the “first impression.  In fact, most people are usually very attached to the first impression a person makes on them and it very hard for them to get rid of it later.

I think from the examples above, it is clear what a wide range of potential errors cognitive distortions (CD)  can cause. Perhaps we should all remember to monitor our perceptions from time to time!  🙂

 

 

Come Visit Russia!

 

What do you think of when you hear the word “Russia”?

Kremlin, Putin, bears, vodka, matreshka dolls ….

Of course, this is also Russia, but not only.

Historically and geographically, Russia is located in the huge territory between Europa and Asia and has NINE time zones!  In Russia there are  than 200 nationalities and representatives of all existing religions.  These peculiarities, including complex historical events, have formed the image of modern Russia, where everyone can discover something interesting.

The Northern Heart of Russia

To start your journey in Russia I propose you begin by visiting St. Petersburg – the northern capital city of the Russian Federation. A long time ago, St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire. Consequently, now we can see many amazing buildings in the center of this city. To go sightseeing in St. Petersburg, you do not need to make many preparations in advance. Just take an umbrella with you (in an average year in St. Petersburg there are only 30 cloudless days) and take a walk or enjoy floating through the canals on a special boat. If you prefer night walks, you can witness the raising of St. Petersburg’s world famous bridges such as the Palace Bridge, which can be seen in the photo here below in a very nice evening picture of St. Petersburg.

 

The famous Palace Bridge in St. Petersburg!

The famous Palace Bridge in St. Petersburg!

 

Near St. Petersburg you can also visit the Petergof, which was built by Peter the Great in the XVIII century. There you will find a series of palaces and gardens, created on the orders of Peter the Great, and sometimes called the “Russian Versailles“. It is not difficult to get there and I definitely guarantee you will not regret i! Click on this link — Best Way to Travel to Peterhof Palace — for more information and easy to follow instructions.

 

The Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg with its beautiful fountains.

 

 

The Golden Ring of Russia

You can also learn more about Russian culture and traditions by visiting a group of cities in north-central Russia, named  “the Golden Ring of Russia”.

You can see in the picture below why these cities were named “the Golden Ring”, because these locations form a circle — and even more important in every town there were more than 20 Russian Orthodox churches with golden domes and many of these churches still exist today.

The Russian Golden Ring (a group of well-known north-central Russian cities).

The Russian Golden Ring (a group of well-known north-central Russian cities).

Travelling into the heart of the Golden Ring offers a rich tapestry of Russian history woven in stone and wood. For centuries, in these towns, Russians looked over the battlements to hostile horizons, while within their walled and fortified towns, builders created beautiful churches and skilled craftsmen adorned them with carvings and frescoes, while iron-workers cast huge bronze bells, and monks painted icons with love and devotion.

Besides sightseeing  you can also taste some delicious traditional national dishes such as: Tula gingerbread, “schi”(cabbage soup served in a bread pot, Olivier Salad aka Russian Salad, etc.  While visting you can also take part in different interesting activities, for example, games such as tug of war, “lapta” a Russian ball game aka “Rounders”, and national crafts such as woodcarving, ceramics painting, and doll-making.  In the “Golden Ring” cities everyone can find something interesting to do!

Delicious creamy soup served in a typical Russian bread pot!

Tourists and local Russians playing tug-of-war!

Tourists and local Russians playing tug-of-war!

Some examples of Russian woodcarving

Some examples of incredibly intricate Russian woodcarving!

A beautiful set of hand-painted Russian bowls.

Russia’s Nature Preserves

After taking a look at these interesting Russian cities, it now time to be inspired by the breath-taking beauty of Russian nature.  With its endless fields and lakes, mountains and plains, and beautiful beaches – it is difficult to describe all of the many Russian nature preserves because they are located on more than 16,000,000 км² of Russian territory!

Therefore, I will just add some pictures and short descriptions about the places that I have already visited or plan to visit.

 The North Caucasus

This area is known as ……The place of a million mountains,  a million waterfalls, and a million goats!  😉

In the first picture, here below you can see “Vovnushki”- a complex of defense watchtowers located in the Republic of Ingushetia in southern Russia. Next is a wonderful photo of the the magnificent Midagrabinskie waterfalls (video link) with their glorious height of 750 meters!

Vovnushki --- Republic of Ingushetia in southern Russia.

Vovnushki — in the Republic of Ingushetia in southern Russia.

The magnificent Midagrabinskie waterfalls!

The magnificent Midagrabinskie Falls!

Lake Baikal

Lake Biakal needs no introduction! Baikal is not only the deepest lake in Russia, but actually it is the deepest lake on the planet! You can enjoy its breathtaking landscape all-year long!

Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on planet Earth!

Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on planet Earth!

Lake Baikal (East Russia)

Lake Baikal (East Russia)

The Kamchatka Peninsula

The Kamchatka peninsula is on my dream list of places to visit, although, right now, it would be rather expensive for me to travel there. But hopefully next  summer, I will get there…..and my dream will come true!

Kamchatka Peninsula with a view of the active Volcano Shiveluch!

The Kamchatka Peninsula with a view of the active Volcano Shiveluch!

The famous Kamchatka Hot Springs!

The famous Kamchatka Peninsula Hot Springs!

If you want to know more about why you should visit Kamchatka please click on the link here below:

http://www.visitkamchatka.com/reasons/

In conclusion, this is my invitation to all of you to visit Russia so that you can get a better idea of the variety and beauty of Russian cities and Russian nature. Then it will easier for you to understand Russian culture and to feel welcomed and enjoy our Russian hospitality!  🙂

One last thing……here is a  funny video about how to do business in Russia!  Poka-poka!  (Bye bye! )

 

 

 

MY WEDDING ABROAD

 

Why do more and more people prefer to organize weddings in different countries and exotic places? There can be many explanations. Sometimes it is hard to get families together especially if they live in different cities. Another explanation is that you do not have enough money, but you still want to organize an unforgettable occasion so some people decide to link their wedding with their annual vacation.

You can find here below a perfect example of this combination of a wedding held in Maldives.

A romantic beach scene from a wedding in Maldives

A romantic beach scene from a wedding in Maldives.

An exotic wedding pavilion in Maldives.

An exotic wedding pavilion in Maldives.

But most of all, without exception, the newlyweds want to make this day very special. Just imagine a sandy beach, you are saying your wedding vows with the lovely sound of the sea in the background…or you are being married in a beautiful old castle, like in Hollywood films!  You can also ask local people to organize your wedding based on their national traditions. The most popular countries for these types of weddings are India, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Chateau de Challain in France is one of the most famous castles where weddings are held.

Chateau de Challain in France is one of the most famous castles where weddings are held.

Ashhamabad, India is the perfect  city for anyone who wants a traditional Indian style wedding.

Ashhamabad, India is the perfect city for anyone who wants a traditional Indian style wedding.

My wedding in Greece this year was an incredibly beautiful experience and therefore cannot easily be expressed in words. So, I decided that the best way to share would be to provide some useful tips to help others plan their own wedding abroad !

First of all, you need to carefully consider your budget and decide exactly how much you are able to spend on your wedding party and honeymoon. The key expenses are, of course, airplane tickets, accommodation, wedding fees (in some countries, like Greece, you need to pay the government for their services), and the wedding after party.  If you have enough money, you could also hire a local wedding coordinator or a wedding planning agency to help you with organizational issues, such as venue booking and finding the right stylist, make-up specialist, so on. It all depends on how you see your ideal wedding and how much you can spend on it.

Then you need to decide what kind of wedding you want to organize: an official or a symbolic ceremony. From the first moment I decided to get married, I wanted to have an official ceremony. I goggled and discovered that weddings held in more than 20 countries including Greece are considered to be legitimate in Russia. If the official registration of your marriage abroad is not necessary, then after the ceremony in your country it is possible to arrange a symbolic ceremony almost anywhere in the world. It is up to you.

My advice is – planning in advance! This will give you a chance to choose. If you start early this means that you have the possibility to choose from a vast number of  hotels, wedding days, and wedding venues that exist around the world. It is clearly a value for money option, i.e. you will be able to get more for your money! The perfect solution is to start your wedding preparations six months before your planned wedding date. I also advise you to take enough time to consider the details of the wedding celebration itself and to hire the right people to help you carry this all out. One other very important thing to remember is that good photos will remind you and your friends and family of this magic day!

Hopefully my tips have shown you that it is not impossible to have your wedding abroad! Moreover, if you prefer a purely symbolic ceremony you can have it as many times as you want — wherever you want!

Now I invite you to look through some of my wedding photos that we took in Santorini (Greece) where we got married. I think you will like them!

This is my husband and I together on Santorini (Greece) minutes after we were married! Isn’t that a spectacular view!?! Yes! :)

This is my husband and I together in Santorini (Greece) just minutes after we were married! Isn’t that a spectacular view!?! Yes! 🙂

The couple on the left are my parents and the couple  on the right are my in-laws!

The couple on the left are my parents and the couple on the right are my in-laws!

Our wedding day

The day we got married was also a national holiday in Santorini and that is the reason for all the Greek flags! We felt like the whole island was also celebrating us and our marriage! 🙂 In the last picture, here below….you can see how happy we felt! Yes, our marriage abroad was a super-happy-fun-time and we definitely felt like we were on top of the world!  🙂

Here we are so happy --  and feel like we are flying --- and are on top of the world! :)

Here we are so happy — and feel like we are flying — and are on top of the world! 🙂

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