DEFINE: UNISG

UNISG stands for the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy (Piemonte Region near Turin). Slow Food founded this University and I’m considering their Masters Program for Food Culture and Communication.

As you’ve seen on my new and improved resume, I have two bachelor degrees as well as a Master’s degree… so the question is… why do I want to go to school again??

I’m kinda sorta asking myself this question. Many people have told me that food writers do not need a standard food degree; I have a specialization in Communication: Writing Arts from Rowan University, NJ… but I know it wouldn’t hurt to have a specialization in food studies (just my bank account). I’ve been looking into the PhD program at NYU and New Zealand, but a career isn’t guaranteed after graduation… which is why I’ve taken it upon myself to do some active research via LML (active research/quarter-life-crisis… it’s the same).

After reading this brutally honest review of UNISG… I organized a private tour (two months ago) to get some clarity on this subject. I was told to arrive on September 14, 2011 at 8:30am to meet with a representative for Q&A’s and to participate in two tasting classes: Wine & Beer.

Now that I’ve had my visit to Pollenzo, the big question is: Do I want to go to UNISG?

PROS:

  • Graduate with a Master’s Degree in Food Culture and Communication
  • Gain an entire network of food contacts
  • Take off-the-map trips in Italian & Europe with local guides
  • Focus on courses involving/revolving FOOD
  • 3-month internship
  • Have an experience of lifetime
  • Extend my stay in Italy for at least another year

NOT-SO PRO:

  • 15,000 euro tuition (+ add an extra 5,000 euro for living expenses)
  • 9 months of classes (pretty sure I have A.D.D. whether food is present in class or not… did you notice my tweets during the beer tasting?? Okay, I’ll blame it on the alcohol.)
  • Extend my stay in Italy for at least another year (it has its ups and downs)
  • Rumors about disorganization were slightly confirmed when I arrived for my 8:30am meeting… the person scheduled to meet me never showed up to answer my questions (even though I confirmed the meeting 48hrs prior):

QUESTIONS FOR UNISG? (Dug and got some answers from various sources.)

  1. Percentage of students who find jobs post graduation? Surprisingly honest response from a UNISG representative: 90% get jobs but it might take awhile… you must be proactive because it’s all about connections with colleagues as well as the school. 
  2. What type of jobs do they get? Location? English speakers? Some people work in farms & vineyards,  others do marketing, or they start their own projects, etc. We have contacts in Italy, USA, Japan, all over. 
  3. Are there work opportunities while studying? Students say that the Slow Food Movement will accept volunteers on a regular basis.
  4. How do students acquire internships? Who helps assign these internships? Students say that the school does not organize the internships however they will connect with someone in order to get the job.
  5. If Professors are brought in from other schools, how do they keep up with the syllabus? How many classes per week? Assignments? Students say that classes are 15hrs, so they’re quick and intensive. Professors are flown in when they can, so some weeks there’s a lot of work and some days there’s nothing. Most assignments are sent via email and grades can be assigned on campus or much later. 
  6. What’s included in tuition? Recreation center? Are books or readings provided for? Students say that they provide their own material and they buy their own books (even though they were told it was going to be included).
  7. Which trips will the course take? It depends on which section you enter- March, May or November, you don’t know which trips you go on until they tell you.
  8. Italian visa? Requirements? School representative said that student visas are very easy to acquire and there’s the possibility to extend the visa with an internship (but the student has to do that on their own).
  9. Is there a student government or clubs or organizations to get more involved on campus? Students say that clubs aren’t necessary because the UNISG schedule is too busy.

What do you guys think??


UPDATE: I visited seven different schools all over the world. Click here to see which school I chose!
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  • Wow, a thorough set of questions that all prospective students should be asking, I will forward this to other people who are considering UNISG. Also, definitely hilarious that your contact person never showed up, despite a confirmation 48 hrs before–you’re getting the full UNISG experience!

    I hope you’re at least enjoying cheese festival!

    • Hey Lady, Cheese was GREAT! Got to meet a ton of UNISG students (various encounters) who really gave me really good advice/expectations for the school. It boils down to the disorganization and the fact that it’s an Italian Univ as opposed to the typical American Standards. Only time will tell regarding my decision with UNISG so stay tuned =)

  • Anne

    Hi there, I’m also looking into food studies related programs- you mentioned looking into PhD programs, I’ve heard of the one at NYU, but I was interested- what was the one in New Zealand? Thanks!

    • littlemisslocal

      A friend mentioned the NZ program but it’s more along the lines of Food Science so I didn’t look into it any further. Since I have a MA already, I am currently checking out a few culinary (chef) programs- stay tuned!

  • kums

    Hi Justine! I am about to apply for the Master’s in FCC programme in UNISG. Very saddened to read your reviews about the university. Will decide what is my next step. Did you join the university in the end??

    • littlemisslocal

      Why are you sad? UNISG can be a great choice; if you love the UNISG program, you’ll love the experiences. I was 90% ready to apply before I found a school that was a better match for me personally: http://littlemisslocal.com/2012/11/culinary-schools/