To Italy, Or Not To Italy

It occurred to me that I have not exactly explained what all happened with the Italian school – or, more formally, the University of Gastronomic Sciences founded by the Slow Food movement (of which I AM A MEMBER. Yay.) in northern Italy. My last post on it was waaay longer ago than I thought it was. But I wasn’t really completely prepared for the fact that it’s November (ftw???) in, er, a week. Whoa.

SO – here’s where I am with the whole “I’m going back to Italy to eat, wheeeee” idea. In short, it didn’t pan out. But the short version is never, ever as fun as the long, is it?

fatt'ia poggio5

Picking up where I left off: I had a bad experience working at a restaurant. I had a “holy crap what am I thinking” moment (actually, it was more like 2 months of that).  I found the UNISG program and started to apply. And it went downhill from there.

Now, I lived in Italy for long enough to know the beast that is Italian bureaucracy. And when I say beast, I mean if you cross-bred the Minotaur with the three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell and then made that baby monster very angry, it would still be no match for the impenetrable cloud of confusion cast by the Italian paperworkasaurus. Throw in a bachelor’s degree from a state outside of your home state’s consulate’s jurisdiction and you are extra screwed. And if you are thoroughly confused by this whole paragraph…then you understand my point exactly.

You see, in order to obtain the dichiarazione di valore (DV), a document necessary for the application that simply [HA] states that my college degree is the same as an Italian university degree and that I am eligible for a Master’s program, the Boston Consulate required me to have my high school transcript. Ah, but not just my high school transcript alone – it needed to be notarized, so that I could bring it to the Secretary of State’s office for an Apostille (like an international notarization), so that I could bring THAT back to the Consulate. You think I’m done.

Because I have a bachelor’s degree from outside the Boston Consulate’s jurisdiction (I went to school in South Carolina, which is under the Miami Consulate’s jurisdiction), I had to get my college transcript AND an official copy of my diploma notarized, send both of those to the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office to get the Apostille, and then send those to the Miami Consulate to obtain the DV for that, then get those back from Miami and bring it ALL to the Boston Consulate. And all this is to apply. Don’t get me started on visas. Just don’t.

Suddenly that personal essay doesn’t look so difficult, huh?

All that is to say, it was not the insane application process that deterred me. That would just be lame. And lame I am most certainly not, thankyouverymuch. No, after going through all the paperwork to study abroad, I know very well that the application hell can be BEYOND worth the experience itself. And there was no doubt in my mind that if this was the perfect program for me, then I would do whatever it took to get there.

So what happened?

A couple different things. First, the program I was applying for completely changed its structure: there are 3 application due dates in 2012, and each application date is for the same degree program but with a different concentration. For example, the application due in March 2012 was still for the Master in Food Culture & Communications, but the concentration was on Ecology & Sustainability. For the May due date, a different concentration, and for the November due date, still another concentration. That changed my timeline dramatically – I had to read up on each of the 3 concentrations and figure out which one was the one closest to what I was looking for. As I studied them closer, all 3 looked less appealing. And not in a “omg that like totally sounds so boring” way – in fact, they all sounded wonderful! But right now, my next step in education needs to be relevant to my career (because I said so.), and none of them seemed to quite fit.

Secondly, I visited the BU Gastronomy program and started learning more about it. I had a meeting with the lovely program director, Dr. Rachel Black, who did some of her postdoctoral work at UNISG (that’s oo-nee-sg, not you-nihs-gee, as Dr. Black pointed out to me Winking smile), and was very happy to talk to me about BOTH BU & the Italian program. That was probably the most helpful thing I could have done, and if you are in a similar pickle, I would recommend it. I won’t go into detail, but I will say this: she in no way discouraged the program, she was simply very honest about the best points and disadvantages of both programs. I still think they are both AWESOME, and if I won the lottery I really would just do both – yes, I’m that much of a food nerd. And it would be But I digress.

After that talk and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS more thinking/reading/researching, I decided that it no longer seemed to be the best option. It still makes me so, SO sad to say that. I really hated coming to that conclusion. And you know, at the rate I’m going these days, it might change in a few months and I’ll decide that it is the right decision for me. But where I am right now, it’s not the course I am choosing to take.

I really want to make it super clear that I am not IN ANY WAY discouraging anyone else who is interested in any of the school’s programs – I just realized I started talking about it and never really explained what all happened with it, and I know very, very well how helpful it can be to read about other people’s experiences with things like this. I pretty much stalk blogs about culinary school vs grad programs, in a less creepy way than it sounds, just to get a clearer picture of both.

SO, where am I? Somewhere between despair, confusion, and calm resignation that I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m thinking about my next step for the spring (*coughnextinternshipcoughcough*), planning for a potential adventure next fall, and generally trying to figure out what the hell makes me happy enough to make a career out of. Yeah yeah, secret of life, blah blah blah. But that’s another post for another day.

For now, I will settle for slightly underbaked brownies. They fix everything.



One thought on “To Italy, Or Not To Italy

  1. Pingback: The 7th–10th Day « When Bread is Broken

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