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Hi, I’m Maya Samaniego from San Diego, California USA.

I am the first American to have taken the MSc in Sustainable Food Systems from Fall 2020 to Fall 2022. I have a B.Sc. in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. With my nutritional degree, I felt inadequate because, with all the nutritional advice I had given, there was a bigger underlining problem that occurred just beneath. I personally didn’t understand where our food came from, and when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred and with the loss of family members, I knew it was my time to embrace my ambition and act. To create a purpose in society for the planet and all of humanity. Therefore, I took a leap of faith, quit my high-paying job, and reached for the stars.

Being in our comfy American bubble, this program awakens your mind to the greater common good. Being placed in smaller classrooms, where you know every student. There were learning styles that are not welcomed in the U.S. curriculum. Such as many hand-on projects, to teach you how to interact with other cultures and individuals. The grading system is different, for example, Unveristà Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Cremona (Italy) has oral exams to embed into your skull to fully grasp the knowledge. Which may be taken over for a better grade. To me, that is a system set up for success. To touch the hearts of a human soul, because isn’t that what we are all here to accomplish, to help others and ourselves to save humanity and the planet, if not you’re in the wrong degree.

Learning from the soil to the soil, a circular economy pulls back each layer of mystery.

Obtaining this enlightenment is starvation for the redesign of our food systems begging for a change. Courses from food microbiology, learning how tiny microbes for their own survival existent make fermentation possible for human indulgences, such as cheese, wine, bread, and more. How nature is an art form that needs to be appreciated. To how our global system in food packaging is in desperate need of innovation. One water bottle takes about 400 years to decompose, now microplastics! Then from fair trade, making sure people are getting paid well for our thirsty dopamine demand for more chocolate. To food trends, eco-design, food technology, climate change, and many more quality layers to be discovered in this degree.

Studying food is the basic existence of human life and everything involved in making it.

This career will set you up for success, if we plant one seed, maybe it will grow into others spreading mother earth’s natural survival instincts. So, let’s build a better world, tomorrow.

My testimony is to better prepare other international students. First make sure you do have enough money to live, have fun, and other medical/housing/visa costs. Each European country requires different documentation and regulations. For visas, you must submit it in the country where you’re first started, for me it was Italy, so Rome is the only place you can obtain your visa for France for the next semester, or if you choose Belgium. For finding a job, teaching English would be your best option. You may teach for Momji, in France, but make sure you have your French visa and all your documents in order, before you apply, otherwise you can’t start work. But if you’re early then you can sign up for many gigs during a week to make more of a profit. Pay is roughly 14€/hr but if you only meet once a week it isn’t much. Again, plan ahead, it takes time, these are friendly reminders but don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

Also, I would recommend staying in student housing in Lyon. It’s easier than finding an apartment. Especially if you are starting in September. The French take their summers off very seriously, which is a reason why I chose France, 😉 they have the most vacation time off. Which, in that case, most people will not be answering emails or phone calls until a week or two before school starts. So, plan.

ISARA is always willing to help financially. They understand most of their students are from a variety of countries and they are willing to help. I encourage to apply for the scholarship, it doesn’t hurt to apply, you might get it. 😉

Daily life in Lyon ?

Lyon France, is famous for culinary Paul Bocuse, a French chef, so you can try the various unique style of meats. You will be eating a diet full of French banquets, pasties, and cheese. Try Mimolette, it’s like cheddar but made from mites and it’s illegal in America, very rich and delicious. Please, drink the wine, especially from Burgundy, (French: Bourgogne) it has the highest amount of resveratrol, the French paradox.

Also, in December, The Festival of Lights (French: Fête des lumières) is a spectacular event filled with people from all over.

The biking system is well worth getting around town. Easy to use and affordable means of transportation. It only costs €17 for a whole year.

Another recommendation is to know at least a basic level of French, it will help you. The French are very proud of their language, so try to speak French first and if they hear how terrible you speak, they might know English, it will be an easier transition if you tried. Supposedly the French don’t speak much English compared to Italy, and I think Italian is an easier language to pronounce.

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