Beyond being the hosts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia has long been known for many things, and not all of them savory. Beyond the bears and ballet, Vladimir and vodka, even the bravest among us have pondered the alleged unfriendliness of the average Russian. Reputations of being unfriendly, surly, xenophobic and just plain mean precede the sizable population of the largest country on earth. Here’s one secret we’d like to spill: while language barriers and an uncertainty about how to behave with foreigners can often some through first, behind the seemingly uncaring demeanor of most locals is an innate desire to want to know more, and to want to help, if help is needed. Like anywhere else in the world, there are exceptions. But don’t let the reputation or reluctance of Russians throw you off. Attempt a few words in Russian, give your best smile, be generous, be friendly, and you will likely get the same in return. Now go forth and enjoy the World Cup, and make some new friends along the way!