Tag Archives: Emily

Fernanda De Superwoman

Fernanda 1

There are a lot of amazing, hard working, inspired people you can meet at FIT. I am constantly wowed at the passion for success that flows throughout the student body here. I think anyone who goes to FIT will say that if you are not prepared to work and really put in the time above and beyond what is required, you should think about attending another school.

Despite the high standard of work ethic here, there are, of course, those who seem to effortlessly out-do everyone else. And I mean that literally. Fernanda De Souza “out-does” probably everyone at this school. We met while playing tennis for the school team, of which she was named team captain for her senior season. Fernanda is also a member of the Presidential Scholars and consistently included on the Dean’s List. Beyond her academic achievements, Fernanda is also currently the editor-in-chief of FIT’s newspaper W27. Yet, somehow she still finds time to work as a nanny, write for The New York Observer, keep up an active amateur photography hobby and have a normal social life! (Can you believe I’m lucky enough to be friends with her? Me neither.) She even had the time to answer some questions I thought would be good insight for current or potential students:

E: You do a lot of stuff. I mean, Pres scholars, tennis, W27, you’re writing for the Observer now, plus your nanny job, not to mention regular school work – how do you find enough hours in each day and not want to jump off the roof of your apartment building?

F: When you put it that way, I realize I do so much. I’m not quite sure HOW I find time every day to go from school, tennis, Pres. Scholars, newspaper, internship, babysitting + working at Ralph Lauren on occasional weekends. I heavily rely on my Moleskine planner, it’s my Bible. I had a very scary spell though where I landed myself in the hospital from a severe anxiety attack because all this stress had built up and I finally couldn’t do it anymore. I’m learning to take better care of myself and pace myself during my day-to-day activities so I don’t drive myself back in the hospital. Thankfully, I have a great team behind me (especially at the newspaper) to help me. My time management’s horrific actually but I somehow manage. I’d rather be busy than sitting at home watching Netflix all day. I’d weight about 500lbs if I weren’t involved in everything I do.

E: How much of your time is devoted solely to W27?

F: W27 is draining. I can’t tell you an exact amount of time that is spent on it because it is ongoing. We have meetings for an hour every week which I’m leading, I’m constantly keeping in touch with the writers, editors, photographers via email and phone, then I’m dealing with the publisher and of course, our edit weekends where me and my art team come in once a month and sit there Saturday through Sunday getting the paper together. I also end up writing one or two articles each issue. It’s a lot of time and you’d think I’d get paid for this but it’s very rewarding in the end when it all comes together.

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E: Hopefully all that time is worth it; does  your position at the newspaper relate directly to what you eventually want to achieve in your career path?

F: Yes, exactly what I do for W27 is what I want to do when I’ve graduated. I want to work in publishing, newspaper or magazine, and potentially, write my own stuff (short stories mostly). I love to edit people’s work, I LOVE to write, I love setting up a nice page layout that is pleasing for the eye (of course, with the help of my amazing art team!). The dream has always been to work at the New York Times as an editor or columnist–we’ll see! Definitely can’t be an editor in chief of any publication anytime soon, always have to start at the bottom, unless I end up starting my own publication, which I would love to do sometime in the future. They say the newspaper/magazine industry is dying, I beg to differ, I think it’s just changing is all.

E: Your own publication! That’s so exciting! Did you know you were going to be named as the next editor-in-chief? And do you like being in charge?

F: I was a candidate to be editor in chief of W27 two years ago actually. I backed out from the running because I wasn’t sure I could handle it my junior year because I knew I would be extremely busy. I was also not mentally prepared. So Caroline Nelson became editor in chief last year and I was her deputy, second in command. And from there, it only seemed like I was following this line straight to the EIC position. So I sort of knew I would land there eventually–I had been with the newspaper for four years and risen from an inferior writer to being in charge. Being in charge is great, having what you say go, but it’s also very dangerous. If you take this power to an extreme, it can really screw with your head.  I try to be the best editor in chief by accommodating my staff but still remaining a strict (but fun!) environment.

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E: You have been known to be very vocal about your disinterest in fashion. Do you think it is worth coming to FIT if you don’t have any interest in the subject?

F: You’re right, I have no interest in fashion. I came to FIT thinking I’d be working for Anna Wintour at VOGUE eventually but that dream was quickly shot down the minute I came to FIT and realized that I was in for it. I think my biggest disinterest in fashion comes from the people who work in the industry. I’ve met some really horrible people and I go, “WHY must you act like that? There’s no excuse and you take yourself way too seriously.” I think FIT is a great school even if you don’t have an interest in going into fashion, because professors make sure to cover things BEYOND fashion. We are talking about businesses going public or bankrupt and political issues in the Middle East. A great range of subjects are covered in the courses at FIT but the major courses are very good with focusing on a career in each respective major that entails more than just fashion.

E: So do you think FIT’s student body has helped you in any way?

F: Being around the FIT student body has helped to reassure me of who I really am. We are all different here at FIT, not one of us is like the other. There are so many different characters at this school, which is great, variety is fantastic. But I can definitely tell you I don’t feel like I fit in AT all under the “FIT student” role. What I can say is that FIT students are go getters and hard working so being surrounded by this sense of competition pushes me to better myself in my work.

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E: Speaking of competition, you have helped the woman’s tennis team here to many triumphant successes. What are the best and worst parts about being a student athlete?

F: The worst part about being a student athlete is your weekends get taken away–completely. We were at matches every weekend, sometimes we were gone Thursdays-Sunday for tournaments. Your social life suffers a little. Best part was actually being active daily and being with on a team with women who were so dedicated to this sport, in every which way. Plus, staying at hotels and getting free food and tennis courts (which cost $200 an hour in NYC!) -it’s a treat. We work hard for all those things though.

E: Do you have a favorite professor or class from your time at FIT?

F: Best professor hands down was Michael Hyde. I had him for fiction writing class (also my favorite class at FIT) and I felt such a strong connection with him that he and I created an independent study for me to embark on the following semester. It was an advanced fiction writing course where I wrote longer stories and a novella + had short stories and two novellas to read each week. He has pushed me and my work beyond what I thought I was capable of, he’s inspired me in multiple facets of my life, and we remain good friends, even though I do not have any classes with him anymore. He has become a mentor, really, and I consult him with anything I’m writing presently. The best thing I ever did at FIT I think was do an independent study-I created the syllabus and chose what I wanted to learn and we went at our own pace. I recommend it for any student looking to have a more intimate connection to their work and have a professor RIGHT there at your disposal without 26 other people to compete for his/her attention.

 Fernanda 5

E: Do you have any more advice for incoming freshmen?

F: Incoming freshmen–how do I put this? Don’t come to FIT thinking you’re hot shit. Don’t come to FIT thinking you know everything and are the most fashionable yadda yadda. You’re in for a rude awakening. Absorb what’s around you, listen to your professors, respect New York (and it will respect you back) and utilize it as inspiration every day-don’t take it for granted. Don’t sit at your dorm on the weekends, EXPLORE! Don’t just go clubbing at night because you get bottle service-EXPLORE! And give FIT and the city a chance–they both grow on you.

E: So with that in mind, what is the best spot in NYC BESIDES Bushwick? [Ed. note: Anyone who knows Fernanda knows she is absolutely in love with her new Bushwick digs and talks extensively about how great her neighborhood is.]

F: Absolute best spot in NYC besides Bushwick–that’s a very difficult question – haha. Brooklyn is my hood and I love everything about it. BUT if I must choose, I’d say the Rose Main Reading Room inside the main public library at Bryant Park. Great place to people watch and unwind from the rest of New York.

E: And a more interesting question – what is the weirdest thing you’ve seen while living here?

F: Weirdest thing I’ve seen in NYC is this performance artist, if you can even call him that, who dresses up in the worst rag clothing and plays with his puppets on the subway platforms (normally on Bedford Ave.). He wears a cape sometimes and makes obscure noises and when the train pulls up he runs inside really fast making said noises and runs back out. He’ll never get a dollar from me.

E: Ok, well I’ll just avoid Bedford Avenue from now on haha. Lastly, just cuz we’re both literary nerds, what is your must read book of the moment?

F: Must read book at the moment is an anthology collection called Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York. This book is a collection of stories by writers who lived in New York City and their experience there. It was inspired by the famous Joan Didion’s 1967 piece, “Goodbye to All That”. Quick, fast, and interesting read, great for FIT students who moved to New York.

E: Ah, I’ll have to read it! And pretty appropriate for you considering you’ll be graduating soon! Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask if you know what you’re doing after college, I’m sure you’ll be fine no matter what!

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–Emily–

FREE STUFF IS AWESEOME

Orientations can be pretty boring so I don’t know if you heard this, but there are things at pretty much all colleges called “clubs”. Now wait, wait, I know it sounds a little lame BUT it really translates to “free awesome stuff”. Who doesn’t love free awesome stuff, especially poor students? Sure it takes some time out of your schedule, but it can be worth it.

For example, here in Italy, my school Lorenzo de’ Medici has clubs ranging from the physical to the intellectual. I joined an Italian cinema club, so I basically get to watch an Italian movie for free every Monday. Considering movies cost $13 minimum and it’s a Monday night so what else am I going to do, it is a pretty good deal. Even more excitingly, I joined another club called “Regions of Italy”. For this, I get three or four free restaurant lunches! The owner of the restaurant explains the specialties of a specific region of Italy and then each dish we eat. Last week, the first meeting was dedicated to Northern Italy (Lombardy, Milan, Emilia Romagna, Modena, etc.). We tried pumpkin risotto (which I got the recipe for an am TOTALLY going to try to make – more on that later), peperonata, Parmesan cheese with traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena,  two delicious wines (which I like to think helped me get that 98% on my first Italian quiz right after).

I’ll admit that I was hesitant to join any clubs at first, but I am so glad I just went for it. I mean I had nothing to lose and I now have delicious free lunches! Did I mention they’re free?

–Emily–

Presidential Scholars

Joining Presidential Scholars is great and everyone should apply. Being accepted is based off academics as well as community service, but you can only apply before the freshmen and junior semesters.

Being part of the Presidential Scholars, or “Pres Scholars” as it more commonly known, requires you to go to about one meeting a month on Wednesday nights from 6 to 8 pm. Every Pres Scholar also has to take one honors class each semester. I have taken Mayan Art and Culture, Art and Patronage in the Italian Renaissance, Sociology, and History of New York Architecture. These classes have been by far some of the best classes I have taken at FIT. Only Presidential Scholars and students who get special permission can take honors classes, so the size of the classes are not so huge. Also, the classes are specialized and the teachers are always amazing, often the most celebrated professors in the school. Taking these classes are helpful in finishing a minor if you choose to do so. I have recently finished my Art History minor and am in the process of finishing a Fashion Studies minor.

Irene Buchman

Irene Buchman

Irene Buchman, who is in charge of the Pres Scholars, is very focused on the liberal arts. Even though SUNY requires certain liberal arts in order to graduate, Professor Buchman really stresses the importance of broadening your horizons beyond fashion and business. Every meeting has a speaker who is a specialist in their field, but is never from the fashion industry. Buchman thinks we have enough fashion in our brains already, and she is probably right.

One of our colloquia last semester

One of our colloquia last semester

Pres Scholars also get some advantages in registration. Every semester students have to register themselves for the upcoming semester by getting up at an ungodly hour and praying they get the classes they want before all the slots fill up.  However, Presidential Scholars meet with Professor Buchman about two weeks before everyone else signs up, and chooses the block they want. This almost ensures not only you get the classes you desire, but also that you do not have trouble graduating because of unfinished SUNY requirements.

Pres Scholars in Panama!

Pres Scholars in Panama!

However, the best part of being in Pres Scholars is definitely our access to Professor Buchman. She knows everyone in this school, I mean everyone. If you ever have a problem with a class, or need a recommendation or anything like that she is a great resource. There have been many times Professor Buchman has graciously helped me when I turn up to her office unannounced and worried. Friendly, intelligent and incredibly generous with her time, Professor Buchman is the rock of the Presidential Scholars.

Oh yeah, the cookies are great too.

–Emily–

First impressions – living

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Well now that we’ve gotten food out of the way, we can talk about Italy as a whole. There’s a lot to get through so I’ll just stick to my living situation for now. My two roommates (who are also from FIT) are living in an apartment in the center of Florence, right near Santa Croce. The location is ideal for food, getting to the important sights in Florence as well as close to school. The apartment itself is pretty nice. It’s a perfect size for us three and has a lofted second floor. Stairs! Like a whole staircase! Whaaaat? That would never happen in New York. I mean we ran into a few normal first apartment problems like noisy neighbors and broken wifi but like the adults we are, we got it all worked out.

fake fake david

Florence is definitely a walking city. There is no subway system and there aren’t really any cabs. There are taxis that take you to and from the airport, but that’s about it. You don’t really see anyone hailing a cab like in New York. There is a bus system but I have yet to bother to learn the routes or buy a bus ticket. It’s just better to walk, everything is within twenty minutes at the longest. The only hard part of walking is that Florence still follows its Medieval city plan so all the streets twist and are small and sometimes change names right in the middle and don’t appear on maps and are generally pretty difficult to navigate. It’s kind of like the West Village but the whole city is that way. I appreciate the historical quality of this plan, but I also want to, you know, get places quickly.

Living in an apartment is not too different than living in the dorms. We actually have more room, and since I always lived in a suite at FIT I am used to cooking and going to the grocery store and doing my own laundry, etc. The only part that is a little annoying is that Italians don’t use dryers so it takes about two days for my clothes to dry on the drying racks. Also we can have wine, like whenever we want (which is all the time, let’s be honest). And if anyone has ever lived in the dorms, they know that the ability to have friends come in and out as you please is amazing.

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Honestly, living in Italy isn’t that different than living in New York City, it’s just way older and more cobblestone-y. Oh, and beautiful. It’s more beautiful.

–Emily–

Como se dice “yum” in italiano?

emily on the duomo

I’m sorry if I have been a little quiet the past week or two, I’ve been busy getting settled into my apartment in Florence. Yup, Florence as in Florence, Italy. I have officially started the second leg of my amazing semester abroad. I have already had some interesting experiences here, but I’ll save that for another post. This subject is much more pressing: the food.

Obviously Italy is known for its food, and for good reason. I have been here for exactly thirteen days and I have already had the best gelato, sandwich, and duck that I have ever tasted. Let’s start with the Italian classic: the gelato. The first gelato i had was dark chocolate and it was the creamiest, most chocolate-y thing I have ever eaten! However, that feat was quickly defeated by an amazing hot chocolate I tried that was more chocolate than liquid. (And that was from McDonald’s! Try finding such an amazing cup of hot chocolate anywhere in America, let alone any McDonald’s in America. Actually don’t try, you won’t) Then I realized that there is a great gelato place literally next to my building that has one euro gelato. Yup, one euro! I don’t know if you can tell by my use of italics but this is all very exciting for me.

italy restaurant

For my birthday, my roommates and I went to a restaurant owned by a father and son duo that makes traditional Tuscan food. I asked the waiter (who was hilarious as a side note) what the best thing on the menu was and said “yeah that. I want that.” I didn’t know what it was but it smelled amazing when it came to the table (it turned out to be duck with really wide homemade noodles). I highly suggest this technique to anyone who finds themselves at a restaurant where you can’t read the menu. Or any restaurant for that matter – live a little!

best sandwich in the entire world period

Now, onto the best part. (Yeah, it’s getting better) I have had the official best sandwich in the world. I don’t care what you or anyone else has to say about some sandwich you ate who knows where that was “awesome”. No, I’m stopping you right there. This sandwich was the most delicious thing I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The bread was buttery and flaky and the prosciutto was salty but not too fatty and there was vegetables and this amazing buttery cheese spread thing that I don’t even know what it is but oh my goodness I couldn’t even find the words to describe it if I did. Plus it was HUGE and only five euros!! This place is also conveniently located right down the street from me (who knew I’d have such a prime location?) so I’ll definitely be eating more of their heart-stopping amazing bread and meats.

This post is getting a little long, and very self-indulgent. I’ll end with our greatest accomplishment – finding the secret bakery. It opens at 12 am and everything is fresh and…you know what we shouldn’t even be talking about this. It’s a secret! You will just have to come to Florence and ask for the secret bakery and see (I mean taste)  for yourself.

–Emily–

Prepare to be Scared

Ok this is going to sound really nerdy…because it is. One of the things I love to do while traveling is go on ghost tours. People have died everywhere around the world and chances are no matter what large city you are in someone wants to tell their story.

There are two types of ghost tours. One is for people who are interested in the actual spirits; “The World’s Most Haunted” type, who research special energy tracking devices. I have never been on one of these before but they seem intense and like a Halloween haunted house attraction except scarier. I prefer the ghost tours that are more about the stories and the history of the city. I think it is the best way to learn the most interesting tidbits about a city that you would never hear by going to the most famous attractions.

New York obviously has had its share of deaths and there are many enthusiasts who will take you down the streets for a small price. The one I have been on in New York is called ”Greenwich Ghosts” and the woman who took us was incredibly fun. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, ghost tours are a really fun, kitsch way to spend an evening and will give you great party stories.

–Emily–

Mola Mola Mola!

Despite what my pictures may suggest, I am actually taking a class while here in Panama. The class is the International Trade and Marketing Practicum. Yes, I get three credits for laying on the beach, swimming in the Caribbean Sea and eating fish pulled fresh out of the ocean. However, we also spend entire days visiting fashion showrooms, logistics centers and talking to Free Trade Zone experts. The final project was started before we even left New York. We each got to choose our topic and then had to do some secondary research before arriving in Panama. Because I am not an ITM major, I focused more on the textiles of the traditional Panamanian culture: the mola. Luckily for me, FIT’s library has some of the best references for textiles in the world.

Molas originated in the Guna Yala region of Panama which is the archipelago of San Blas on the northeastern coast of the country. Before the invasion of the Spanish colonists, the Guna natives (also called the Kuna or Cuna) did not wear clothes and instead painted incredibly intricate and colorful figures on their bodies. Because of the similarities of reports from Lionel Wafer in 1609 it is believed that the molas were simply adaptations of the way the natives used to adorn themselves before the Spanish colonists were shocked by the nudity and required them to cover up.

Molas are made and sold by a huge number of natives who travel to Panama City to sell the wares. Girls usually learn how to sew molas at the age of six or seven. Amazingly, the tradition of the mola has survived centuries and almost all Guna women still dress in the historic way. This means that a panel is sewn as a rectangle and then sewn onto fabric that makes the chest and sleeves of a shirt.

The mola on the left is from a few decades ago, and the mola on the right is the way a modern mola would look with more modern fabric used for the shirting

Molas are made by layering several pieces of fabric of different colors. Then, the artist will decide upon her design and carefully cut away each layer revealing the color of the layers beneath it. Then each edge is painstakingly folded under and held in place with tiny stitches.

Every mola is handmade and no two molas ever look the same. Molas can be purely geometric or figural. The imagery used in molas is not very significant to the culture. Guna women simply reflect the world they see around them in their art. Because of this fish, birds and humans are popular motifs in molas.

My favorite example of Guna women putting what they see in the world around them into their molas

Molas are an integral and distinct part of the Guna native culture and luckily, shows no sign of dying out.

–Emily–

Embera and Guna Natives

In my opinion, one of the best parts about traveling is the opportunity to learn about new cultures that are specific to different countries. It is almost like jumping into a time machine and living the way you never thought you could. Many of the natives in Panama live without any electricity or running water. Being able to spend time with each of these fascinating societies completely opened my way of thinking, and made me realize we could live without much of what we consider necessary. To be fair, these people live in the closest thing to paradise I have ever seen.

I mean, come on!

One of my favorite realizations I came to while spending time with the natives was that no matter the country, culture, or upbringing kids will always be kids. It was charming to see the Embera children run around as their parents tried to tell us about their culture. Many would run after each other through the meeting house, calling friends over to look at something exciting, and when we broke out the cookies we brought for them, well things got a little crazy. It was nice to realize that no matter where you go, every kid is going to be a kid, and every parent is just trying to raise them right.

I am so glad that I spent the money (the natives use tourists as a huge part of their economy) and  time to visit the Embera and Guna natives. I could have gone to the popular tourist destination of Bocas del Toro, but this was an experience I could not get anywhere else in the world. It will definitely be one of the memories that stays with me for my whole life. Never give up on a chance like this when you travel the world. The diversity and cultural traditions of people around the world is a treasure that we cannot let die.

–Emily–

All Work and No Play Makes Emily a Dull Girl

This trip to Panamá is an International Trade and Marketing class where each student is responsible for researching and presenting a report on a topic of his or her own choice. It requires quite a bit of preemptive secondary research to be done before landing in Panamá, as well as a lot of on site research. However, that doesnot mean that this trip is all business.

We have visited many companies and organizations – some that are extremely serious and focused on the business of the Panamá canal in the Free Trade Zone, as well as the United States Embassy in Panamá. (To be honest much of these excursions went over my head as I do not posses the ITM background that would have made them really stand out for me.) However, it is important to also experience the culture of the country. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

The Panamá Canal turns 100 this year!


The Panamá Canal turns 100 this year!


It’s not my fault it’s snowing in New York and I get to lay on the beach

Traditional Panamanian dancing

French Conversation in Paris

Panamá will be the second interim class I have taken abroad. The summer after my freshman year I took the French Conversation in Paris class. Needless to say, Paris was amazing and I would return there in a heartbeat. The “class” part was really morning reviews of what we would have learned in earlier classes as well as discussions about what we did the day before and what we were going to do that day.  The class mostly consisted of trips around Paris and sometimes the outlying areas. We lived very centrally in Paris on Rue de Sèvres across from Le Bon Marché. It was amazing to go out every day and see a new part of Paris.

Obviously the first thing was bought the cheapest wine we could find and drank it on the Seine

Obviously, a class like this all depends on previous experiences with the French language, as well as your willingness to become part of a new culture. I have to say many of my classmates seemed uncomfortable with their French and would often shy away from using it out of embarrassment. If I had one piece of advice it would be to immerse yourself as much as possible! Trust me, everyone knows you are not French, but if you really try to speak the language as best you can and are polite most people will find you endearing…and then switch to English. Also, the best parts of Paris are the places most people could not find if they were only there for one week. Yes, the famous monuments are amazing and you should visit them (I mean, who wants to say they lived in Paris for three weeks and never went to the top of l’Arc de Triomphe?)  But some of the best memories I have are going to little restaurants late at night with just a few friends and trying to see if we could get the waiter to believe we were really Parisian, or making a midnight picnic on the lawn under the Eiffel Tower. This is where you will meet people who not only are friendly, but will also most likely strike up a conversation with you, and tell you about even better places to go! Being in one city for three weeks allows you to see everything that interests you. For example, a tiny museum on the outskirts of Paris was having a show on Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons that I would definitely not have been able to see on a normal tourist trip. I don’t know if I have ever been more proud of myself than after I realized I could walk the streets of Paris without a map (it was the central part of Paris, but still).

One evening my friends and I went to the famous cafe just to read and drink chocolat chaud

Study abroad programs during the summer and winter are really amazing, especially if there is anything stopping you from studying abroad for an entire semester or year. Also, the classes are much more relaxed and give you a feeling of the city that I think compares to spending a whole semester there but having more classes.

Giverny, where Monet painted the Water Lilies

Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery

–Emily–