Loredana Quadro is a professor in the Department of Food Science.
When I first arrived in the US for my postdoctoral training at Columbia University, more than twenty years ago, I remember being in a taxi, riding towards New York City, and being struck by the colors of the surroundings. It was a day in early March of an extremely cold winter, everything around me was brown and grey, from the trees to the majestic buildings of the city. I am from Napoli, in southern Italy, a wonderful place by the sea where the winter is never so cold or so long, the sky is always blue and so is the sea in the gulf. I had just arrived in the most sought city in the world, but I truly did not like it. I was very disappointed, and I said to myself “I am not going to stay here”.
Then, there was the cultural shock and the language barrier. It may sound strange but before coming to the US I had never met, let alone had a friend from a different country, religion or ethnicity. It was very intimidating for me. Not to mention when I tried the pizza in the hope to find some comfort food….For the first six months after my arrival, I never took the clothes out of my suitcases. It gave me a sense of security thinking that I was ready to leave, anytime. It took me a while, but I ultimately fell in love with New York and the infinite possibility that living in the US had to offer to a young woman who wanted to become a scientist. Twenty-five years later, I am still here, happy and thankful for the great opportunity I had to realize my dream.