My name is Allyson Pérez, and I was the 2017-2018 Fulbright Casten Family Foundation Awardee at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. While at @unisg_official, I obtained the Masters in Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility.

A little known fact about Fulbright is that in addition to the ETAs and research grants, many Fulbright countries offer full scholarships to U.S. citizens for graduate programs in a variety of fields! While most Fulbrights last about 9 months, grants for graduate study last as long as the program to which you apply. In my case, I was in Italy from October 2017 until December 2018.

My masters program at UNISG is an interdisciplinary social sciences program that explores the connections between food cultures and migration. We take a wide variety of courses over a 9 month period, including three study trips, designed to give us a practical lens with which to think about our studies. My cohort went to Sicily, the Spanish Basque Country, and Thailand!

After courses end, students spend the last 3 months of the program doing an internship or research project upon which to base the masters thesis. I did both, doing an internship at Slow Food International, and a research project comparing immigrant food worker communities in the U.S, Italy, and Denmark, focusing on döner kebab and taquerías (believe it or not, the best tacos in Europe are in Copenhagen–@sanchezrosio & @hijadesanchez!). I had never been to Europe before receiving my Fulbright, and this award truly opened up the world for me. Italy became a second home by the end of my fellowship, and I cherish all of the friendships I made with classmates from around the world, from Italy to Brazil to Japan. And of course, the food was delicious!

To potential Latinx Fulbrighters: think outside the box–there are so many countries where graduate degrees are offered to US citizens through Fulbright, and it is a great opportunity to get an affordable education while also expanding your horizons. Our community has a unique perspective to offer not only in U.S. universities, but in universities around the world. ¡Atrévete! Apply! You might just end up changing your life.

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