By my count, I've been in Russia for a total of almost exactly a year: one week the first time, on tour with my college concert band; one month the second time, studying with the Yale Summer Program in Petersburg; nine months of last academic year (for an eleven-month grant... stupid leg); and seven weeks so far on this grant.
Tomorrow (drumroll, please), I go to Russian McDonald's for the first time.
Ok, it's not that big of a deal, but I think it's kind of funny. I'm not a big McDonald's fan in the U.S. (despite what many of my students think, which is that all Americans eat fast food all the time; considering what they see of mass-exported American culture, I really can't fault them for thinking so. But I will try to convince them otherwise by feeding them homemade cookies). I've had several chances to go to McDonald's here that I've passed up. Surprisingly, we didn't have one in Vlad, though we did have a joint called "Magic Burger" – or just "Burger," in the local parlance – which I regrettably never visited. But there are McDonald's aplenty in Moscow and Petersburg, and even, as I learned a few weeks ago, in the not-very-big Cossack capital of Novocherkassk. (I'll blog about that trip eventually.) I also hear tell that there's a very attractive one in Sochi, complete with palm trees.
Anyway, I'm going to Rostov-on-Don tomorrow to give a presentation on my Fulbright experience at the American Corner library (which I'm currently procrastinating on by writing this post). Seth, my Rostov cohort, has promised a trip to McDonald's beforehand for McBreakfast. McAwesome! I'm not even really sure what to expect of this little blended-culture adventure. Will it look like American McDonald's inside? Will it be as classy as my host mom in Petersburg always said Russian McDonald's is? What will the local-market dishes be – hearty soups, maybe? Blinchiki and kasha? Do they have Happy Meals, and if so, what kind of toys do they come with? And do you have to pay extra for the ketchup packets like you do in most Russian restaurants? I'll be sure to report back.