Embassy Excursion

Written by Ben Crooke, a Freshman at Penn State

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Annie, Aaron, Ben and Dr. Buffington all posing in front of the US Embassy with our flag blowing in the wind.

With the help of Dr. Buffington, our current professor from Penn State, we had the opportunity and privilege of visiting the American Embassy in Moscow. Before entering the embassy we walked down the sidewalk by the entrance and gazed through the barbed wire fence, early for our visit. After seeing all the SUVs parked inside with the American flag flying overhead we all laughed knowing we were at the right place.
   After handing over our passports to security and walking through a metal detector, we walked onto American soil in Russia. Upon being seated into a comfortable meeting room we met two economists who worked for the State Department. They discussed with us the changing economy in Russia with the transition from communism to democracy. To say they least this visit was extremely interesting. After an intriguing discussion about consumer power and oil and gas production we had the privilege to meet Alan Mustard, the Minister-Counselor for Agriculture Affairs from the USDA.
Mr. Mustard jumped right into a fascinating presentation about Russian Agriculture. Up until this point we didn’t have a real good picture of how agriculture in general was currently structured in Russia.

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The Penn State representatives with Miss Cynthia Dubios, an intern for the Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs.

He gave a brief history of the farming and land ownership systems starting several hundred years ago. I was amazed that 52% of the food produced in Russia today is grown on private plots averaging one acre a piece! Some of these plots are rented by just one farmer and one fourth of the food grown on these plots is in urban areas.

Most of this food consists of meat, milk, eggs, and some vegetables. Typically only wheat and other staples are grown on the large farms consisting of thousands and thousands of acres.

For a busy man like Mr. Mustard, he was the most considerate host and answered all our questions. I was happy to learn about how people like Mr. Mustard and his colleagues work cooperatively with Russian farmers, businessmen, and officials to help develop agriculture.

Also in this Issue...

  • Man's Best Friend by Aaron Ladd
    "...The one on my right decided that it wanted to taste some American food. I don’t know if he thought that I would have slightly more fat since I am an American or if I was just sweeter. Nevertheless, he wanted to take a bite out of me."
  • McDonald's by Becky Dunmyer
    "While the food is the same as usual, ordering is a great deal different here. There is no such thing as a “Number 1”, complimentary ketchup, or free refills."
  • International Forum by Marina Besedina
    "This year three student groups were present. This included Italians, Russians, and our U.S. group.  The school officials wanted to make clear that we were “one family” and could interact and accomplish tasks without the convenience of a common language."


Written by Becky Dunmyer, a Graduate Student at Clemson University

During our time here we have found that McDonald’s restaurant is extremely popular in Moscow. One can find a Mickey D’s on just about every street corner and certainly within most mega malls. It might sound crazy, but McDonald’s is a great place to hang out. We have found that the Russians agree because it is always very crowded. There is never a dull moment or a free seat. We have visited several times to relax, use the free Wi-Fi, and watch people.

Most of the local McDonald’s are a lot larger than the ones we see in the United States. Our favorite

MSAU Administration Building
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Here Aaron is in front of one of the many McDonald’s restaurants that are scattered around Moscow.

of these, off of the Pushkinskya metro stop, is three levels and also has a McCafé section. McCafé is the McDonald’s version of Starbuck’s. They have great coffee, frappe, cappuccino, and desserts. Often there are special times when one can purchase a dessert and receive a cappuccino for free.

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Annie and Aaron after enjoying their quasi-American McDonald’s experience.

Even with all of the space, it is still a team effort to find a place to sit.      

While the food is the same as usual, ordering is a great deal different here. There is no such thing as a “Number 1”, complimentary ketchup, or free refills. Most of the sandwich names are the same, but we have noticed a few differences. For example one would order a Royal Cheeseburger instead of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Fries and a drink come with additional requests, as there are no “combos” or “meals”. Ketchup is given in tubs not packets, and can be yours for twelve rubles a portion. Sometimes these differences can cause quite the ordeal. Be prepared to order facing five annoyed cashiers, fifteen to twenty restless people behind you in line, and some random guy who wants you to speak English with him. Once the battle is won, walk up two flights of stairs, get lost crossing a field of tables, find your friends and finally enjoy! 

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