"This is Petya"

Quarantine Diaries: Будь как Петя

Published: May 1, 2020

Quarantine Diaries is a series of free language lessons. Each can take a variety of forms but all focus on building intermediate and advanced vocabulary and listening skills. After the brief introduction, watch the Russian-language public service announcement about coronavirus and the importance of maintaining an effective quarantine. Below this is a transcript with a side-by-side translation provided by SRAS. After reviewing all material, answer the questions provided.

An example of the original Petya meme in Russian: “This is Petya. Petya likes music, but knows that not everyone on his commute wants to listen to the same thing that he’s listening to. Petya has tact. Be like Petya.”

Будь как Петя” (Be Like Petya) is a classic and well-known meme on the Russian-language Internet.  In English, the meme is known as “Be like Bill” or sometimes “Bob” or another common, short name. In Russian, the meme is almost always about “Petya” – a familiar nickname often given to men named Peter.

Like in English, the “Будь как Петя” meme is meant to teach the reader what the author feels is some simple, obvious truth by using just a few lines of text written in very simple language.

In Russia, the meme became so popular, it was once used as the basis of a KFC advertising campaign. It has also now been used, as seen below, as the basis of a public service announcement. Here, Petya shows the importance of maintaining an effective quarantine regime. It has been playing on heavy rotation on multiple Russian TV channels for about two weeks. It follows the same general pattern as the simpler Internet meme, with highly simplified artwork and very simple language used to make its argument.

Listening Comprehension

Это – Петя.

Он третий день сидит на самоизоляции, и ему скучно. Петя чувствовал себя прекрасно и, проигнорировав все предостережения и все запреты, он решил встретиться с друзьями. Ведь правила карантина не для тех, кто чувствует себя прекрасно.

После встречи с Петей, друзья тоже чувствовали себя прекрасно. Поэтому Рома решил заскочить на день рождения к своей школьной подруге Марине, конечно же, на метро. Дима решил съездить в Подмосковье, навестить родителей, конечно же, на электричке. А Вадим никуда не поехал, у него очень, очень важная работа в офисе.

И вскоре друзья Пети и друзья друзей Пети почувствовали на себе первые симптомы заражения. А три бабушки и один дедушка, которые о Пете никогда не слышали, оказались в больнице.

Но всего этого не случилось, потому что Петя решил не встречаться с друзьями, а посидеть пару недель дома.

Петя – умный.

Будь как Петя.


This is Petya.

For three days, he has sat in quarantine and he is bored. Petya feels wonderful and, ignoring all warnings and prohibitions, he decided to meet with friends. Obviously, quarantine rules are not for those who feel wonderful.

After meeting with Petya, all his friends also felt wonderful.  Therefore, Roma decided to drop by a birthday party for his old school friend Marina. Of course, he took the metro. Dima decided to head just out of Moscow to see his parents. Of course, he took the commuter train. Finally, Vadim didn’t go anywhere, because he has very, very important work at the office.

Soon, Petya’s friends and Petya’s friends’ friends felt the first symptoms of the infection. And three elderly women and one elderly man, who Petya had never heard of, also wound up in the hospital.

But all this didn’t happen because Petya decided to not meet with his friends and instead sat a couple of weeks at home.

Petya is smart.

Be like Petya.


About the author

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson

Josh lived in Moscow from 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian with SRAS, until 2022. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Internship Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Josh Wilson

Alex Sitnikov

Alex Sitnikov

Alex holds a BA in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) and an MA in Translation. He came to Moscow from Tolyatti to study at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2013 and has been in love with the city ever since. Alex coordinates student activities in Moscow for SRAS. When he’s not occupied with that, Alex likes to play guitar, sing, read, play videogames, and make YouTube videos.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Alex Sitnikov