Both the Dean and the Spiritual President (definitely his official title) were out of town, so the guy on the right here (Michele Fino, a UNISG Food Law professor) made a joke about having to bring out the B team for the graduation. The guy on the left (Slow Food International Secretary General Paolo DiCroce) was not amused.
I did it! I have a Master’s degree (in Food Culture and Communication with a focus in Representation, Meaning and Media) with a title almost as long as my undergraduate degree (International and Global Studies with focuses in Political Science, Latin America, and Spanish)!
After wrapping up my internship commitments here in New York at Saveur and Food Tank, launching a personal website, starting a new stream of stories for Contemporary Food Lab, turning in my thesis (a blend of personal experience and theory), I embarked upon a much needed week (or two, let’s see) of resting priority-resetting (as well as immune system-resetting). This meant good, nourishing food (chestnut and pumpkin soup!), not waking up at 5:30 AM, spending leisurely afternoons and evening drinking time with friends and family, and reading.
So, I went back to Italy. I was quite surprised by how intense the week there was. Not intense like New York stress intense. Intense like emotionally intense, but in a good way. I was itching to get out of the slow lane in Bra back in July and go DO stuff, but in the weeks leading up to my return, I couldn’t wait to get back there, take long wandering walks, have long lunches, and drink some wine.
A snazzy new shop called LOCAL opened while I was away, serving up meat, cheese, beer, and wine. Again, all things that I was itching to get away from in July, but this is really all I wanted for a late afternoon jetlagged lunch.
I expected my week back in Bra to be full of free time to work on some projects that I kept putting off due to the day-to-day craziness of my internship period. But what ended up happening was even better. I put off those projects again. I saw the city in a new light again and was just as charmed by the carne cruda and the Barbaresco and the quirks as I was last November when I arrived.
I approached my thesis defense as more of a celebration of the past year than a “defense.” It was an opportunity to tie together things I had learned about myself and about food on study trips and my in own travels, in my internship and in conversation with friends and coworkers.
The weather was gorgeous. I mean, really. Last year when I arrived around this time, it was 45 and raining everyday.
And last Friday, in a short but sweet ceremony with lots of pictures afterwards staring into the blinding sun, I graduated from my Master’s program.
Completing my internship(s) in New York City gave me some much needed geographical perspective on my experiences at UNISG–some of my frustrations about the university have filtered out of my mind. Looking back, I’m so grateful for the experiences I had over the course of 9 months living in that cobblestone-lined town and the 3 that I had running around the busy streets of Manhattan. When I think back to where I was a year ago at this time, I had just begun to dip my toe into the big, wide world of good, clean, and fair food, thanks to an Outreach and Communications Internship at Good Food Awards.
And now, what’s next? I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that this last year allowed me to take ownership of my identity as a writer and explore my interests within the food system. The central argument of my Master’s thesis was that while writing poses challenges and opportunities for representing lived experience, it is the strongest tool I have in my toolbelt. And it is how I will try to make space for myself in this world, as a gastronome, and as a graduate of the University of Gastronomic Sciences.