When I was little, I would get an idea of my dream life and I would plan the whole thing. Every step required from start to finish. I had plans for being a dolphin trainer, an actress, a stay-at-home mom, and so many more. But I never thought of myself as a “dreamer”. I think I always saw life as something I made, not something I wished. In the same way that I approach travel as something you make the conscious decision to work towards, so I see life. Yes, many times I buy the ticket and hope for the finances to work itself out, but at its core, it was always up to me. I had to the power to pick up the extra shifts, or live on a stricter budget. I controlled my work ethic. Work hard and you will earn what you deserve. I believed in working for what you want, not wishing for it. However, the past year I have been making the conscious decision to dream, dreaming bigger than I really believed I could achieve.
“[The most successful people today] are no smarter or more talented than you. At the time they began, some had little or no money at all. They still traveled and observed the world around them. They decided to have a big dream and accepted their ability to turn it into reality. They have made a fortune. But it is nothing in comparison to the gold mine that sleeps in every cemetery. The ideas and dreams that could have forever changed the world, each a gift to humanity, but buried in fear and doubt. Your biggest challenge is not accomplishing great things, your biggest challenge is admitting how much power you truly have to do them.”
Leaving the security of college, I chose to dream, and I dreamt big. It was a mental challenge all the way. I dreamt that this girl, who just wanted to bring people together through food and travel the world, that she could also get a master’s degree for eating. I dreamt of living long-term in Italy where my heart stayed when I left three years ago. I dreamt so big that I chose to dream for a school that only accepted 25 people from around the world every year. I dreamt that maybe they would give one spot to a girl who just loved to eat and wasn’t quite sure what job title she would hold down the road. This gigantic (and perhaps too big for a first attempt) dreaming started with small steps as I did what I knew. I worked hard, spending hours on the best application that I could put forth. But once the baby step of working hard was taken, the challenge began. After clicking that submit button, all I had left to do was to dream and wait.
I spent three months waiting. Everyday switching between dreaming courageously and doubting this would be enough. I spent my days wishing that they would see my passion, and take a chance on this small town Idaho girl. I prayed that this would be the reward of my years of working hard. And when I was at the end, talking myself off the ledge and doubting that dreaming was enough………I got it. The biggest dream I have ever had the courage to entertain came true.
I became one of 28 chosen for the Masters of Food Culture and Communications program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. This is the only school in the world that looks at food from an academic perspective instead of from a culinary one. So rather than learn to cook, I am learning how to use food as a medium to bring about great change in the world. Like everything this blog stands for, I will be learning the cultural significance of food, how to make it ethically and ecologically, and how to bring people together around it.
In a matter of weeks, I move to Italy for over a year to study food. There is nothing I could dream that is bigger than this. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was as excited for something. As I spend my days selling everything I own, processing paperwork, looking for apartments from 5000 miles away, and saying goodbye to friends, I am overwhelmed with the weight of what I am undertaking.
I never knew it took courage to dream. As I realized along the way, I envy the dreamers. I am in awe of their unwavering dedication, knowing full well they can only do so much to impact its fruition. This was a challenge of relinquishing control, of “being flexible”. We are the captains of our own destiny, but many times have no control over the seas we traverse.
I am ready to start my life around the world. First stop, a year living in Italy. And boy is it going to be a delicious year, stay hungry my friends.
-The Very Hungry Traveler