Having had to adjust to many changes since arriving in Moscow, I’ve found that some aspects of the life of a college student here are familiar to me, while others are quite foreign; finding something to eat is one area of daily life that embodies this simultaneous similarity and contrast. MSU is both familiar and foreign to me in various ways one aspect of my life as a college student that MSU has many times more students than Carleton (40,000 undergraduates to Carleton’s 2000) so there are several more cafeterias to choose from, as well as cafes and food shops within each of the academic buildings. I was shocked on my first day of classes when I found out that there was a place to eat on nearly every floor of the building where I have classes. While cafeterias and shops are far more prevalent on the MSU campus than at Carleton, sitting down for a meal here feels largely the same as it did at Carleton.
Just as with Carleton’s dining halls, hot items are served to students cafeteria style, while small items like salads and desserts are self-serve. I also had the opportunity to eat at a restaurant with a similar serving style while on an excursion here. Stolovaya No. 57, on the third floor of GUM, cashes in on the nostalgia for soviet-style self-service. I ate there during an excursion and was impressed with both the quality of the food and the effort put into the décor.
Having had the opportunity to take a course on food in Russian culture with a component taught in the Russian language, I was well acquainted with some key differences to be found between Russian and American cuisine. For example, Russian salads are vastly different from what I’m accustomed to in America. While Americans tend to place a small amount of protein on top of a bed of lettuce, arugula, or spinach, Russians utilize root vegetables, fruits, and meats in more equal proportions, yielding delicious results. I always hated the lack of substance that define salads in America, so this has been a welcome change.