When I arrived in this sleepy little town in the middle of farm fields, I had no idea everything the next nine months would entail. To be honest, I really didn’t know what I was studying exactly (the only idea I had, turned out to be kinda, a bit, pretty much wrong). I had 150 pounds of belongings, and a big empty apartment.
Mostly I just found a delicious environment. That was the best part of this whole experience. I may not have gotten the rigorous graduate school that required spending every night up late working. But here nights were spent more hands on, up late enjoying the newest producers vintage of Dolcetto. The education was in the experience, the network of UNISG, and the opportunities it provided.
The past year changed my food perspective entirely. I arrived a woman who just liked to eat delicious food, now I’m one who likes to eat good food. The soil, roots, life, harvest, processing, transit, preparation, and partaking. They all matter to me now. The system matters just as much as taste. My siblings definitely will think I have become a hippie here the more I pester about processed food, additives, pesticides and the like. But the difference is that this wasn’t a brainwashing or bandwagon I jumped on. There are plenty of elements taught in Pollenzo I didn’t end up agreeing with or following, but I was educated and formed new opinions. I opened my mind and heart to the education, soaked in all that I could, processed it, and decided where I wanted to stand.
The best part of this university however isn’t the education, I’m sorry to say. The real power of this experience is the network and opportunities that come from being a part of the bubble. Its a band of international food misfits from around the world. Incredible people who at any given time in their apartments are fermenting, curing, or distilling something. You find people writing books and starting companies. And every night someone is making something delicious with an open invitation. Bra is perhaps one of the few places in the world where you can find traditional home cooking from 75+ different countries.
But even better than the skills and entrepreneurship of these people is their kindness. We are all just foodies. I like to compare it to the Olympics because in the bubble you don’t find discrimination, and very little actual competition. We may not all be best friends, but yet you are basically friends with anyone you meet simply by being from the same school. It’s a pretty neat thing that I don’t know that I have ever found anywhere else.
This bubble is also a wealth of sources of opportunity. In the past year, we have eaten food of multiple Michelin star chefs, and learned from food experts from around the world. From this blog, I got the opportunity to report for Slow Food at their Slow Fish event, and become a contributor for Eataly magazine. Not to mention presenting about food from the United States at the G7 Agriculture Summit in October.
However, it was when it came time to look for internships that it became real how enormous the UNISG network is throughout the world. They touch every part of the food world imaginable. What was even more inspiring was that fact that when you contacted this network, it didn’t matter that you had never met. By reading in an email that we shared the same school, they were open and willing to help with whatever contacts or in any way they could. To be part of a family that stretches throughout the world and is willing to help any whim you have, that’s the power of being a part of UNISG.
I try to explain it but in actuality it has been an indescribable year. Eating, laughing, and sharing it with people from around the world. Its a place you find home. Thankfully we all come back in five months, after we have had adventures interning and researching to write our theses. Words fail me to convey what has happened here and who I’ve become through it, but thankfully I’m only saying goodbye to sweet Bra for a bit.
Thanks UNISG, see you in five months.
-The Very Hungry Traveler
“Somewhere in between the pace of life, and work, and where you’re going, something makes you stop and notice, then you’re finally in the moment….Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the middle of who knows where, you’ll find you found your heart but left a part of you behind…”