Adventures Abroad: The McDonald’s McLifestyle in Rome

This column is the second in a Life&Style series exploring the study abroad experiences of students from around the 5Cs. The entries will be widely varying in style and topic depending on each student's particular perspective, and serve as an extension of the writers' accompanying study abroad blogs. This week's column comes to us from Rome, Italy courtesy of Wylie Rush PO '12.

So I’m studying abroad in Rome right now. After surveying the loud, smoke-filled, and Ray-Banned culture of Rome, I noticed that Roman life kind of sucks. First of all, Romans only wear the lamest clothes imaginable. The way too small and tight, shiny, puffy jackets are everywhere, as are those atrocious bleach-stained euro jeans that make everyone look stupid. You can always tell who the tourists are because they don’t look like euro clowns. Secondly, no one pays attention to or cares about anything, which is nice sometimes when you be getting yo drank on and yo public urination on, but when you’re trying get something real done, like find a legit doctor who can actually help me with my broken pinky, then it’s really annoying. And people hate Jersey Shore here for some reason. But it’s okay, because everyone torrents here, so I’ve stayed up to date. Is it just me, or was there way too much Ron and Samdrama this season? Also, everyone’s really short here.

The worst atrocity, which I would argue squeezes the remaining breaths out of the already dying city of Rome, is the fact that fast food culture here is, shockingly, not as big as it is in the U.S.! If I said, “Did somebody say McDonald’s?” nobody would know what I was talking about, and not just because they didn’t speak English.

Even with this knowledge dun knowed, as I stood in awe in front of the glorious Pantheon a couple days ago, I was appalled, consternated, dilapidated, and expropriated: The McDonald’s that had been located directly across from the Pantheon for my entire life was gone! This was a travesty of epic proportions, especially because I had just been on a four-hour walking tour and was craving some “Amurican” food. Naturally, I then went searching for the closest McDonald’s, and found myself standing in front of the McDonald’s located near the Trevi Fountain. I was about to enter when my friend informed me that, “No, there is another.” And so I ventured to Termini Station in order to eat at the McDonald’s located there.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the Roman McDonald's two thumbs up. They’re not open late, which sucks, and they don’t deliver. However, the Big Mac is clearly better over here, and the fries are fresher. I’ve actually had to wait a couple times while they made a fresh batch. Don’t even think about ordering ketchup, though, because the stingy Romans created a conspiracy in which they charge all Americans up to 20 euro cents for a single packet of ketchup. And straight up, the ketchup is just tomato sauce.

Trill, the Italian word for marijuana, is a big part of McDonald’s culture. Luckily, trill is pretty easy to come by in Rome, and by pretty easy I mean very difficult. You gotta find some rul sketchy dudes in order to get your trill on. Obviously people did, and it really paid off when I decided to go to the McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps the following day. But stoner beware. You know when you order a gigantic meal at McDonald’s and it’s like seven dollars? Not here. You’ll get through ordering and see that you just ordered a 25 euro meal. Sheeeeit.

Now, the real question is how, why, when, and what to order when in Rome. Furthermore, as well as, in addition to, you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Rome? A McRoyale Deluxe. I’ve seen Pulp Fiction like five times, and only yesterday did I realize that a McRoyale Deluxe was the same thing as a Royale with cheese. Again, sheeeeit. When ordering, I would go for either the Big Mac McMenu or the McRoyale Deluxe McMenu. The McMenu is the Italian equivalent of ordering a meal. For some reason, asking for a McMenu will get you the large meal, while asking for the McMenu Classic gets you the medium meal. And because it’s McDonald’s, there’s obvi no option for a small meal.

The best moment of my trip, however, occurred when I met a McDonald’s Celebrity. Yes, although it took much effort and persistence, I was able to request and secure an interview with Signore Ronaldo McDonaldo himself. We talked for five hours (which is only three hours after the conversion from Italian time to American time) about the ins and outs of the fast food business in Rome. And the one statement that Ronaldo made that really stuck with me was, “Tutti regazzo spumante allora,” a wise piece of sagacity that roughly translates to, “it’s liked by many.” There you have it: All Romans like McDonald’s more than traditional Roman food.

For more about Wylie's experience in Rome, go to wylierush.blogspot.com

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