Category Archives: Study Abroad

I Made it to Santiago! (and back!)

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Hello again! After a very busy summer I am back in the NYC swing of things and there is so much to talk about, but I have recently found out that many of you readers were interested in the last post I made about doing the Camino de Santiago (read it here) so I thought I would give you a little follow up.

The few weeks building up to my start were pretty stressful, it didn’t help that I also had finals and was trying to figure out how to move out of my apartment and get all my stuff back home from Italy. I had done plenty of research on what to bring, what to expect in terms of weather and terrain, and how to get to St. Jean, but I knew that I wouldn’t really be able to know what the experience would be like until I was actually walking, and I liked it that way.

Getting to St. Jean Pied-de-Port was pretty difficult. I had to fly to Bordeaux (via London for some reason) then the next day I took the train to Bayonne and then a bus to St. Jean. It was a little overwhelming, there were a lot of pilgrims all arriving with me and I didn’t have a room booked yet, although there were plenty of places catering to us there so it wasn’t a problem. The first person I met was a school teacher from New Zealand who was doing the camino because teaching didn’t excite her anymore and she didn’t know where her life was going next. I also met four girls about my age who were from Kentucky. I knew that the first day of the walk was going to be the hardest because you have to cross the Pyrenees mountains, so I was a little nervous to go at it alone. To make the day better it was raining at 6 am when I got up. Luckily, those four girls were leaving the same time as me and also wanted to make it all the way across in one day, so I joined up with them. Before I knew it, I had my walking buddies. We ended up walking all the way to Santiago together and even picked up a few extra people along the way!

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To describe the entire camino experience would take pages and pages. Even then I don’t think I would be able to communicate the truly amazing time I had and all the fantastic characters I met along the way. It sounds corny to say, but this is one of those life changing experiences that can take you from crying and broken one day to looking out over a mountain range with exhilarated gratefulness the next.

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One of many incredibly breathtaking sunrises I was lucky enough to experience

I think everyone should do it at some point in their life. It is physically difficult, but not impossible. I met many elderly people doing the camino (and I mean 60 plus) as well as kids! One girl was 9 and doing 15 kilometers a day on her tiny bike; there was even a baby. A BABY. If a baby, well if a mother carrying her baby, can do it so can you.

The journey is more about the relationships you build with those who are also on this soul searching pilgrimage, and discovering about yourself. While it is important for your body to be physically prepared, I would say that preparing myself mentally was much more helpful. I definitely thought a lot about the questions I hoped to find  answers for, and things I wanted to improve upon in my everyday life.

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I will leave some pictures to try and give you a broad idea of what walking the camino (500 miles!) was like, and if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them! If people really show an interest I wouldn’t mind making more posts about my experience in greater detail, but for now I will be going back to New York/ FIT based posts.

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all the pilgrims in one albergue (hostel type thing) would make big family style dinners a lot. They were one of my favorite parts!

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–Emily–

04MN-Hello-Wall-Words

Language Advantage

Merhaba Peeps,

I hope someone is still there (I’ve been gone too long, I’m SORRY). I was gone two weeks on a Mediterranean cruise with my mom, as an early graduation gift. I did try posting twice but it really wasn’t working (or cost-effective for that matter, oops). I’m back in Rome for the time being and I’m going to explore the eternal city once again and maybe even for the last time in my life (hopefully not).the-computer-demands-a-blog

I just wanted to share with you how important it is to speak more than one language, I cannot stress it enough how it will come in handy all throughout your life. OK, so from what I’ve gathered Americans assume everyone speaks English (not everyone obvs) , and I heard that the English do that too (eeerghh that annoying buzz sound in game shows). Through my travels in Turkey, Greece and Italy I discovered that even if English is the main international business language, the best baklava seller in Turkey might not care about that fact (oh how yummy it was). I also noticed that some people are predisposed to you as a customer and a human being, as soon as you just slap a HI or Thank You without even trying their native tongue (Efharisto: thanks in Greek). I also found Hard Rock Cafe in Istanbul (newly opened, known by a handful of people) on a pure coincidence because the girl sitting next to me turned out to speak Spanish and work at HR in one of the most prominent hotels of the area and took us on a tour because she wanted to practice her Spanish (kid you NOT). Anyways, you get the gist of it, language was not meant to be a barrier, do not let it scare you. It is the gateway to understanding other cultures, other countries, other ways of thinking. Besides, eavesdropping in four different languages can be quite fun (especially when they are talking about you, unkindly) and you respond… followed by a jaw drop!

So when you are questioning the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures and why FIT requires two language courses think of all my stories and all the stories you could have. Think about all the doors it will open for you and all the resumes your resume will crush (Languages: English, (Fill in the blank). These classes were designed to make you thrive in an ever-changing global environment. If you feel they are too intimidating you can wait until your Bachelors (that is when they are required), and if not you can start in your Associates and maybe even minor in a Foreign Language. FIT offers: French, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish. If English is not your main language we also offer ESL programs throughout the year. Oh and don’t fret,  it is very interactive because we have a state-of-the-art Foreign Language Multimedia Center!tahnks

A presto,

Sadie

(I promise not to ever leave for so long again. I missed you all, I mean that is hoping someone reads me haha)

I’m Going on an Adventure!

I know I said that this year was my “year of travel”, but I am about to embark on my biggest adventure yet! After my last final on Thursday I will be packing up everything I brought to (and bought in) Italy and sending it home. Fingers crossed nothing gets lost or broken in transit. All I will be keeping is my trusty bright red backpack, hiking shoes, the ever important Nalgene, and a minimal amount of clothes and travel necessities. When you have to carry everything you own on your back, the line between needs and wants becomes much more clear.

I am doing this because in a week exactly I will be walking. A lot. I’m going to walk from one end of Spain to the other. Actually I am walking from a little town in France called St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Santiago, Spain and hopefully if I have time to Fisterre or “The Ends of the Earth” – the last place people believed you could go before falling off the edge of the world. I can’t think of a better, or more dramatic, place to end my pilgrimage.

Full disclosure: I have never actually watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies, this is just too perfect to not include

Full disclosure: I have never actually watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies, this is just too perfect to not include

That is what I am doing, a pilgrimage. Specifically El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, as it is officially called, is a medieval trail that Christians crossed to see the remains of Saint James. By proving you walked a certain amount of miles (by getting stamps at stops along the way) each pilgrim receives a fancy diploma-like document in Latin that absolves you from all your sins. To be honest, I am not an extremely religious person (I don’t really see the point when the basis of all religions boils down to the same basic beliefs, but that’s a whole different conversation), so completing this journey will be less about being forgiven for my sins and more about focusing on making myself a better person, and just the fact I could do it.

Each one of those blue dots represents a day of walking

Each one of those blue dots represents a day of walking

This whole thing started a few summers ago when I went to go see a movie with my mom at the little, artsy movie theater in my hometown. It was called “The Way” and it started Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. When the movie finished I just said to my mom “One day I’m gonna do that.” And here we are, I’m following through with the promise I made myself. (Also the movie is really good and still on instant streaming on Netflix ((I think)), check it out!)

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With only a week left I am getting pretty nervous. I was originally going to have a friend from high school who is fluent in basically every language come with me, but due to money issues she had to cancel. After that, trying to find someone not only willing to walk 458 miles, but who also had all of June and some of May free proved extremely difficult, and so, I will be doing this on my own. In a way I think it might be better this way. I will be forced to meet new people and I will be able to reflect on my own life in more peace. But that in itself is pretty scary, let alone the actual physical dangers that the Camino can hold.

On the other hand, you can’t have an adventure without a little danger!

–Emily–

It’s Happening!

I have some exciting news, but first read this post from a few months ago.

Done? Okay cool. Well guess what? I did it! I’m an adult!! Not really. Actually I just got my act together and learned to cook a few meals…but whatever, same thing right? And I did it without even taking a cooking class! (Which, to be fair, is one of my biggest complaints about this study abroad experience. Most kids here only take about four classes and those will include “Italian Style Cooking” and “Pairing Food & Wine”. WHAT?! I’m taking six classes and none of them have anything to do with food. Ugh.) But like the proverbial baby turtle crawling its way back to the ocean, I persevered. Just look:

Parmesan zucchini - Healthy AND delicious

Parmesan zucchini – Healthy AND delicious

Roasted potatoes, zucchini and pasta with shaved provolone

Roasted potatoes, zucchini and pasta with shaved provolone

family burrito night!

family burrito night!

Just makin' risotto

Just makin’ risotto

I am now the fried rice QUEEN

I am now the fried rice QUEEN

Spinach and ricotta tortellini with chicken, fresh cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan

Spinach and ricotta tortellini with chicken, fresh cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan

the classic pesto pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes and melted mozzarella

the classic pesto pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes and melted mozzarella

I mean come on, that’s pretty impressive considering the first post, no? Alright fine, they’re pretty much all pasta dishes, but what can I say? I’m in Italy! (Also we thought our stove was broken for like, two months. Turns out we had one of the knobs turned wrong….oops!) Pinterest and Epicurious are two fantastic websites (who are we kidding, just download the apps) for cooking inspiration. If I can do it, you can do it! (Unless you live in CoEd or Nagler. Then you won’t have a kitchen, so you can’t do it, soz mate.)

–Emily–

Pantomimes Anonymous

Two different Italians stopped me on the street today to ask for directions. On the one hand, I was proud because these authentic Italians mistook me as one of their own. I get a strange sense of satisfaction from being able to blend in with other cultures. However, this happiness quickly became became uncomfortable and embarrassing. This is because, wait for it….I can’t speak Italian!

Yes, my name is Emily Bennett, I’ve lived in Florence for three months and I still cannot speak Italian. I am so ashamed. For most people, the biggest worry while traveling abroad is whether they will be able to understand the locals. This, of course, leads to desperate hopes that most people will know English and even conversations stating how much easier and better the world would be if everyone just spoke one language (i.e. English). But what a horrific white-washing of culture that would be! Can you imagine living in a world where no one knows the subtle romantic quality of the French language, or the explosive passion of Italian, or even the mysterious Swahili?

I get it, it’s intimidating and embarrassing to attempt to speak a language that you haven’t mastered, especially to people who have been speaking said language since they were babies. Trust me, that is what got me in this situation in the first place. When I was studying in France, it was a whole different ball game. I had been studying French for six years before I was living on my own there, so I had a sturdy background of the language and was well-informed of the culture as well. This is the first time I have ever studied Italian, and I know what you are thinking, if I live in Italy, I should be learning the language twice as fast, right? No, wrong, completely wrong. Everyone here speaks English! At least the French have the decency to refuse to speak English to you! Obviously, it would have been much harder for me to survive here if people didn’t speak English, but I think I could have done it, and forcing me to attempt even the most broken Italian in every situation would have sped up my learning immensely. However, I am a self-conscious little baby when it comes to Italian. Too quickly will I revert to English, or not say anything at all. I go to the grocery store at least once a week and I think the only things I have ever said to any of the cashiers are “si” “no” and “grazie”.

Now that my time in Italy is coming quickly to a close, I wish I had pushed myself harder to learn the language and speak it. Honestly, it is a really horrible feeling to be in a country and unable to speak the language. It is embarrassing! Not to mention completely disheartening. I don’t mean for this post to be such a downer, but if you can learn anything from my little failure, really take the time to learn the language before traveling. It will make your time there much more rewarding, and the locals will definitely like you more. Also, don’t be afraid to forget about English and instead rely on whatever of the language you do know (miming helps too). It is much more endearing to see someone struggling to speak the language than one who just starts speaking English and assumes whoever they are talking to will understand.

Buon viaggio!

–Emily–

Notes From the 6 Train: Alternative options for Spring Break

Spring break could not come fast enough! The momentary Break from classes, and this cold winter/ rainy spring weather, is more than welcomed. This is the first spring break that I will not be going home. Where am I going you may ask? Panama City? Miami? No, no, I am going somewhere event more exotic…
Canada! Toronto to be exact. Now, I know what you are thinking. Won’t Canada still be cold? Hmh, possibly, of course it won’t be Nearly as warm as Miami or Panama City, but is another country ( I try and leave the country at least once a year), and with airfare as low as $85 one way, it’s a much more student budget friendly.

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Even before I had been invited to Toronto, I had planned anther alternative spring break trip. I was going to couchsurf the east coast. I find that so many New Yorkers get stuck in New York. The east coast has so many cool cities, and with most them being a few hours away by bus, and not that expensive to get to, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be explored. I was going to do this via the website couchsurfing.org, a free travel website/community created for adventurers. I used this website while I was in South Korea and wanted to visit the capital city of Seoul. It’s almost like a dating website, but for houseguests. You must create a personal profile that is viewable for others. Find people in the new city/ country you plan on visiting, check out their references, request to spend a night or two then, the viola! You’re an official couchsurfer. If this makes you nervous, you can go to couchsurfing events held in your city to meet other people who’ve done it and see what it’s like. It’s a great way to meet new people, get a chance to truly experience the culture of the city and stay somewhere for free. (When I did this, I met people from all over the world and now have places to stay in South Africa, Korea and even made a friend who now lives in NY!) The link is posted below.

tumblr_mnyyqt8lK21s7xb93o1_1280 ( My couchsurfing friends & I at Pride in Seoul.)

Now, if you aren’t quick the risk-taker as this, which I completely get, there are other ways to explore. Upstate New York has a million different things to check out, many of which are perfect spots for day trips. Or you can take a day trip to a nearby city like Philadelphia or DC, if you still want to actually leave NY. Just don’t stay in your room all day on Tumblr!

My plan is to return to campus with new experiences, new friends and not be completely broke. That sounds like a good spring break to me, I hope yours is too.

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/how-it-works

Beautiful Travels

Hey everyone so my project that I am currently working on is a group project. We have to design a floor for an art magazine in a building, so I have been doing a little research about different museums . It’s amazing to see how they are designed architecturally, graphically,ect. But some of the pictures are just to beautiful not to show everyone. These are definitely places I would like to visit and maybe once you see them you will too. 4f78b6614b81ac387108e29008013f67This first one is  called the “Underwater Museum”  in Cancun, Mexico. More than 400 life-sized sculptures are made from neutral clay in order to promote the growth of coral reef and marine life. You actually swim through it, As soon as I saw this I texted my best friend and said “UM CAN WE GO?!” So guess where I am going this summer…Cancun here I come!

7aab9ae8e40ef86869183c42dae4169e This is called the “Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum” and it is  in Seattle. There are thousands of beautiful glass flowers all over the place. As I kept looking through the pictures I found one of it glowing at night, it was simply the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. My brother is going to Seattle to visit our cousin in July, I might just have to tag along now ( THANKS GABE in advance if you are reading this ).

45435bb024c55f8678b1b2167d977cb4This is in the London transport museum, the architectural details are just beyond beautiful. Imagine if New York subways, bus stations, and train stations had beautiful work like this? I know I would never want to leave, instead of the fast pace walk I do now.

Theres hundreds more that I found but I only chose my top three to show you. If you want to see more I found a lot on this website: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-most-beautiful-buildings

Let me know what you think, any suggestions where else I should vacation?

Xoxo

Kailee

My Dorm

Ciao ladies and gents,

Sorry I’ve been away (partly not that sorry, was having too much fun) , I had an amazing Spring Break in Belgium where I got to visit my friends and family from when I studied there in 2009. Now, I’m back to the real life (yeah, like living in Rome and traveling every weekend is the REAL life) and it’s time I catch up with you guys :)

My definite question right now is: to dorm or not to dorm? I’ve been living in the Residential Halls for 3 years now and even though it has been awesome experience (with some annoying twists parfois), I feel the time to become independent is upon me. Meanwhile, when I’m apartment hunting, I realize all the perks living in the dorms has. Aside from it being PRIME real estate in Chelsea, it is so amazing to just be able to walk or scooter (like I do) and be there in 5-7 minutes.

Without any further ado, I have become famous once again (yeah, right) with my past dorm-room coming in at minute 4:15 (although that is not my door, oops)  in the new Kaufman Hall video tour. I’m the bed with the green lizard, and it’s my orange computer in the dining room table (with my mid-day break cooking show Mazola Academy), and the beautiful roses my boyfriend sent me.

Enjoy with caution (I’m already tempted to move back in) !

Deadline for Online Application: April 2, 2014

how to apply

Carpe Diem,

Sadie

Seeing vs. experiencing

If you read an interview with any photographer almost all will say that the biggest difference between shooting film versus digital is the immediate editing. Digital cameras let you take infinite number of pictures while film rolls have less than 50 exposures each. Many photographers say that this has changed the psychology of taking pictures because with film each shot had to be “worth” it and would therefore require more thought, while digital allows you to snap away to your heart’s content and just delete later on the computer (or more likely hoard all of them in a folder on your desktop never to be looked at again).

I’ve noticed this applies to how we experience life as well. We constantly want to prove we have done something, even if it is just to ourselves, and constantly being able to take pictures makes it so easy. But is it too easy? As someone who has been lucky enough to travel as much as I have, I have definitely realized the strongest memories that survive are not ones seen in photographs, but rather the ones where I was just hanging out and experiencing the moment fully.

I’m not saying “don’t take pictures”, obviously you want to have something to look at to remind you of amazing things you have done, I just think it is important to put your camera or iPhone or whatever away and just sit and be. Don’t let an amazing experience slip by because you were too busy seeing it through a screen.

–Emily–

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Athletics

Waking up at 5 am with 21.5 credits, an internship and a job is simply impossible (at least for me). I remember when the women’s soccer club became a team and this was how early I had to get up to practice. Prioritizing being able to go through the day awake rather than playing soccer competitively left me with a void in my heart.

Here I am, a year and a half later (pounds heavier) but with only 12 credits, incredibly long weekends, no job or internship (just volunteering) and in Rome. There could have not been a better timing to go back to the sport I once loved. So say hello, to Sade’ (this is how they spelled out my name on my uniform LOL)  a current AUR She-Wolf playing Calcio Femminile. Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 4.20.37 PMAlthough I’m quite missing our tiger (which I was once) I’m happy to be howling before matches. Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 4.24.01 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 4.24.14 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back home at FIT, we have 14 different teams that hold try-outs at the beginning of each semester. This semester I’m trying to get in shape so when I come back I will be able to try-out for our amazing soccer team (and hopefully make it). For more info you can check out our Athletics & Recreation website, where you will find an outline and more details about Women’s & Men’s sports (yes we DO have men at FIT, despite what Cosmo says).

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Ultimate Warrior Elite Challenge Spring ’13

If you are more into individual working-out we have two gyms available to students (which are included in your tuition) with PTs helping you figure out the machines and the weights. If you are like me and need extra motivation from people around you, join some of our recreation classes (I highly recommend our signature class FIT Workout Nation-It’s not a Game!).

Work Hard, Play Hard!

Work Hard, Play Hard!

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If you are just thinking of avoiding it all-together (I have a surprise for you) your AAS degree requires students to complete 2 courses in Health, PE, and Dance (ranging from ballet, personal defense, fencing to Stress Management). So before you pout, walk away and decide to not apply to our school, I will kindly remind you that “75 minutes of brisk walking per week equates to an extra 1.8 years of life expectancy as opposed to staying sedentary.

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So, cheers to staying alive!

Carpe Diem,

Sadie