What Do I Bring to UNISG

Photo: NYT

So, my last post didn’t dissuade you and you’re packing your bags anyway to attend the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Congratulations! Here is some advice on what to lug in your two suitcases, each under 23 kgs.

It’s obvious but must be said: when you pack, don’t forget you will have to bring it all back! Or consider bringing items that you would be comfortable donating to charity at the end of the year.

In my opinion, it is better to bring less clothing and shoes. It’s useful to have some nice clothing for parties and such, but it’s not like you’ll be really clubbing in Bra (pop. 30,000). For field stages, again, this is not a fashion show; you’ll be spending your time on farms. When you pack, roll your clothing so that it conserves space and wrinkles less. If you have friends or family visiting, ask them to save space in their bags to bring items to or from Italy so that you can rebalance your closet inventory as needed.

For students who opted for school housing, the kitchen equipment coverage is sort of spotty. If you care about this sort of thing, you should pack a good knife. With the extra space conserved by packing less clothing, and brought everything I thought I couldn’t cook without: colander, mixing bowl, thermometer, whisk, spatula, grater, measuring cups & spoons, peeler. Your room will come with a comforter, desk, lamp, and a wardrobe with 6 hangers, shelves and drawers. For the bed, you will need 3/4 size sheets, which is a size that is not sold in the US. I used full sheets instead and that worked well enough.

For students who find housing independently, furnishings and other decorative supplies can be picked up cheaply at the Saturday Torino flea/antique market. To scout for housing, send an email to the UNISG student listserv to see if anyone has a flat they’re moving out of or room for a roommate.

Absolutely critical: a camera, adapters for outlets, and workout clothing. Don’t gain the freshman 15 kilos. Read the labels on everything with a plug to make sure it’ll convert to 220v. Your computer should be fine. My alarm clock was not. I brought my GSM cell phone with me and popped in a new sim card without a problem.

Avoid bringing more than a couple of books. The library has a decent amount of books (and some DVDs) in English for casual reading.

I am an avid biker, so I brought along a bike lock, patch kits, mini-pump and mechanical tools. You can pick up new and used bikes at the only bike shop in town, Tecnobike (Via Pollenzo 7), or email the student listserv to see if anyone has a bike for sale.

Some foods that are difficult/impossible to find in Italy: baking powder, peanut butter, oatmeal, cheddar cheese, pecans, corn syrup, soft brown sugar, maple syrup, dill, pumpkin (the Italian zucca has more liquid and tastes quite different), sour cream, corn tortillas, black beans, cilantro, tofu, pretty much anything Asian/Latin/non-Italian. Yes, I know we are here to explore Italian food, but I stashed a few packets of furikake flakes into my suitcase, and boy did they taste great after a couple months in Italy.

A few students set up bank accounts in Italy, which insulates you from exchange rate fluctuations, but requires a fair amount of Italian-style bureaucracy and paperwork. Instead, I opened up a Capital One direct banking account and credit card account. They are one of the very few providers out there who do not charge fees for foreign transactions. I was able to get cash through my Capital One atm card in Italy without a hitch, and my credit card transactions were never declined. So, even if some of my peers have had terrible experiences with Crapital One, I will personally vouch that they are great for overseas travel.

Happy packing!

6 thoughts on “What Do I Bring to UNISG

  1. Now there’s an open challenge between me and jesse about if some of the ingredients you mention are present or not at bigstore or elsewhere. We are going now –I’ll let you know :)))

    1. Oh boy, that’s awesome. I’ll admit that some of those ingredients can be found at Ortobra or the bio store, but for the most part they are more difficult to find than in the U.S. I reeeally recommend bringing baking powder and maple syrup because I can’t think of any ready substitutes for making pancakes.

  2. maple syrup is not present at bigstore, I still have to check at “Spezie e Aromi” though, but yes, might be better to bring it. Baking powder is called “Pizzaiolo” and comes in yellow bags, in a pack of 3. I know, the name is weird, but it is actually just baking powder without any vanilla. corn syrup: nop. light brown sugar just at the fair trade shop. cilantro at the halal butcher :)) corn tortilla yes, at bigstore, but no black beans –maybe at ortobra? dill just dried, unfortunately. peanut butter: jesse says there’s only bad one, ok fair enough, i’m not the biggest expert 🙂 oatmeal just at ortobra and it’s pretty expensive!! :(( pecans are impossible to find, we have no idea of what pecans are. sour cream: mmm, nop, don’t think so. So well, it’s tight I think 🙂

  3. Hi Lady Parmalade,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful blog which is not only informative, but also presents a very accurate view on the workings of the university. Reading it was a true enlightenment!

    About things to pack, I would like to add a few things if you don’t mind. There is no fresh DILL, CHIVES or CHERVIL to be found in Bra. However, you can buy it dried at Ortobra or you can go to Lidl (opposite Ortobra) and buy seeds to grow yourself (indoors or on your balcony, if you have one).

    PEANUT BUTTER, coconut milk and indian spices can be purchased at an indian store on Via Umberto. At Ortobra (Corso 4 Novembre) you can also buy SOUR CREAM, smoked bacon, Turkish SUCUK, Thai CURRY PASTE

    There is a Chinese shop above Lidl that sells cheap kitchen utensils, homeware and anything else you can think of. Next to this shop there is another discount store which sells cheap but decent glassware (excellent for wine tastings and parties at h0me when you know some are going to break inevitably.

    There is one more BIKE SHOP, which is located on Via Parpera, close to town hall. You can also try the flea market at Porta Pallazo in Turin where you can buy second hand bikes. The flea market is definitely a good tip, so go there before you buy everything new. I ended up collecting a really nice set of earthenware pots, plates and cups.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    1. Thanks for the feedback–glad you’re enjoying the information! You’ve got some great advice on where to find obscure ingredients in Bra, and I wish this knowledge had been available to me while I was there. I definitely didn’t know about the Indian store or the other bike shop.

      Best of luck to all present and future UNISG students! Perhaps if enough international students demand it, we can get a steady supply of fresh corn tortillas in town. 😛

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