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Studying Food Science Gives Brazilian Student Skills To Use Back Home

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York is the place second year master student Julia Fritsch wanted to study after deciding to leave her hometown university. “I’m from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and I started college in Brazil I was a Microbiology major and my university was the Federal University of Rio and it went on strike during my second year,” she says. “Then it was on strike for four months and I was still doing research, but there were no classes so I was getting frustrated and I decided to transfer. I looked into the universities in the U-S and I picked to come to Cornell,” she says. “When I transferred I decided to switch from Microbiology to food science and Cornell is a very well known university worldwide and when I was choosing were to come I basically got a ranking of the food science department in the U-S and Cornell was ranked number one so that was a strong reason for me to choose to come here,” she adds. “I really like it I mean not only the department, but the fact that it is a ivy league and it has some many different colleges and majors that it gives me the opportunity to also broaden out and not only take food science, but also take History, Economics, Business or anything else that I am possibly interested in.”

Julia says along with taking basic science courses her major also exposes her to food quality and the safety of food. The biggest reward for her is knowing that what she is learning will be very beneficial for people back home in Brazil. “Food Science major you are exposed to a lot of the basic Science courses just like any other Science major and then you move on to more food Chemistry, food Engineering you actually learn how to develop products or make food and it involves not only making the food, but ensuring food safety and quality,” she says. “Basically I am doing process optimization work during my masters and I am learning about how to do things more efficiently and I think that is going to be great if I can go back to Brazil and help the food industry there use their resources in a better way and also guarantee the safety of the product better because we have a huge amount of natural resources and a huge fruit food supply that most of the times is not fully utilize and a lot of our food products go to waste when they are not processed correctly,” she says. “So it is a very flexible career and it very interesting and very rewarding.”

This summer Julia Fritsch had an opportunity to attend a food conference in New Orleans, Louisiana where in late August hurricane Katrina ripped through the city causing death, despair and destruction. Several weeks later, another hurricane Rita made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana state line flooding again New Orleans. Julia says the images of what has happened to the city of New Orleans are unbelievable to her. “The Annual Institute of Food Technology conference most of the graduate students attend because we present our research, I presented my research paper in one of the sections and there is a huge attendance from universities from across the country and people were very friendly,” she says. “The city was great, everything was so pretty and we were actually at the convention center were all of the refugees were. I just had an amazing experience and I can’t believe when I see the images of how it is right now.”

When it comes to receiving an education in the United States, Julia says…”I would highly encourage students to come here especially coming from countries where the school system is not as organized. I feel American universities will offer you a wide variety of things and I think here things are more structured especially in the university environment. They are more organized and more thought- through and technology also enables the American universities to have things work and the quality of the education here is excellent,” she says. “Culture wise I feel people here are more independent whereas we kind of work more as a group and here I felt when I moved that students work more independently and don’t share like notes and things like that.”

Julia has one more year at Cornell University. She says she isn't sure what she will do once she is finished, however coming from a warm climate; there is a slice of life here in the United States she says she will miss. “People always ask me how I can deal with the winter in Ithaca because it is very brutal and coming from a tropical country I am actually going to miss a lot being able to go skiing after class in the winter here so that is definitely something really new for me and that I am always going to remember and I am probably going to miss it when I go back to Brazil.”