The FODIAC project gave me the opportunity to carry out an educational and research experience at the Biological Engineering Center of the University of Minho. For this reason, on September 18th, 2019 I left Italy to reach Braga, in the north of Portugal.
The initial fears and insecurities immediately vanished. Thanks to the welcome of the city and the wonderful people I met, the experience was positive from an educational, social and cultural point of view.
The Biological Engineering Center is a young, multicultural and professionally stimulating research center. Here I worked together with expert researchers and I had the opportunity to learn methods to characterize food waste in phenolic compounds, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and to apply a new extraction technology: Ohmic heating (OH).
The center is located on the university campus, so I actively participated in the daily life of students and university researchers, attending common spaces such as the canteen and comparing myself with other cultures and traditions.
At university, I met wonderful people who immediately became good friends. Thanks to them I had the privilege of known the city of Braga, its customs, its proverbs, its history and even to learn a few words in Portuguese. Braga is a fascinating and regal city with churches, fountains, pubs, and gardens. The Bom Jesus do Monte, the Sanctuary of Sameiro and the garden of Santa Barbara are just some of the most beautiful places…and the “bacalhau com natas”, the “francesinha”, and the “pastel de nata” are just some of the tastiest foods.
During this month I also explored Portugal by visiting the city of Guimarães, Porto, and Lisbon, each one with its charm and all characterized by the colors of the typical Portuguese azulejos.
The first days in Portugal I was a foreigner, but thanks to the people I met and the hospitality of the university and the city, at the end of the month I had almost become Portuguese.