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Gnocchi in a pesto sauce with bacon

Spring break has finally arrived and it’s been a long haul to get to this point. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of school work, projects, and tests, mixed with trying to spend time in the gorgeous weather. Florence in the spring is unreal: the skies are blue, the sun is warm, and the streets fill up with the buzz and bustle of people going on their ways. People begin to sit outside with cappuccinos and paninis, relaxing on the steps of the many churches and piazzas. I most certainly have lost my tolerance for snow since being here and I’m not sure if I will ever be able to build that back up (or if I even want to try!).

 

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Just a casual day on a Florence rooftop, right?

The Italians still think it’s cold, but I’ve been attempting to soak up the sun in minimal clothing on my friend’s terrace during every spare moment this week. Our books for midterms were laying near us and I’m hoping that along with the sun, I soaked up some info from the pages of my notebooks as well. Everyone has different study methods, right?

 

It’s been a tough semester of work, yet I would redo it if it meant we weren’t this far along. I have under 45 days until my flight takes off for New York. I’m not ready to go back yet and I’m not sure I ever will be. Though some people are eager to return home, I would be happy to spend a few more months here, before heading to the city for senior year. A semester is most certainly not long enough to grow accustomed to a new city and two semesters still hasn’t gotten me there.

 

IMG_4692 copyLast weekend we went on a gorgeous hike through Tuscany. Professor Iozzi led us up through the hills and made way for us to look over Florence. From any point outside of the city, you can see the monstrosity of the Duomo, sitting dead center of the many buildings. You can make out a few others if you try, but it is crazy to look from afar and see just how big the dome is. It was warm enough on the hike to wear a tank top, the sun beating down on my shoulders. With our time rushing towards an end, I force myself to worry less about my grades and schoolwork and to get outside, see the city, truly give it all that I can. Who knows when I will return.

 

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I was also lucky enough to turn 21 in Florence… this says “Many Wishes Kaylee” although I think they spelt it Kaylle… close enough!

Tomorrow I leave for Portugal for a week. My friends are heading to locations such as Greece, Berlin, Belgium, Malta and more for spring break. For some it’s their last trip of their months of stay. I’m extremely happy that both my mind and my budget cut off some of my travel this semester. Florence is so gorgeous in the spring, that I don’t want to leave it each weekend, only to realize that I missed the city I live in by trying to see others. The list of places I want to see continually grows longer since coming here, but Florence it’s a sight in itself and I’m so lucky to be here.

As the Brits say… Cheers

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Fries with gravy and cheese from the Brick Lane markets

A four-day academic field trip to London to attend industry meetings and a trade show is definitely my kind of field trip. I arrived in London and took to Brick Lane, an area famous for shopping and splattered with more vintage shops than my wallet could handle. The weather was uncharacteristically gorgeous. Much to my relief, everyone was speaking English, which made me way too excited. The bustle of London, the language, the grim and dirt on the streets… I felt at home and I fell in love.

 

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How incredible is this street art?

On Monday we had a visit to Burberry on Regents Street where we received a behind the scenes tour of the amazing store. The cavernous lobby of this flagship location pointed your eyes towards a massive screen showing the most recent catwalks and ads from the season. Following Burberry, we took a smaller, more personal tour of Antipodium, an English brand with a smaller budget that is in expansion mode. Former FIT in Florence grad, Daniel Mcilwraith is the Head of Design and he gave us the details about working at a more personal brand. We got to explore the East End of London after, taking inspiration from the many unique retail stores and the insane street art found on every road. For the afternoon, we traveled up to Camden for more exploring through the famous Camden Markets. Exhausting? Yes. Amazing? Even more so.

 

Bright and early on Tuesday we headed to Pure Trade Show and walked along the

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My friend Sara and I at Pure Trade Show

hundreds of booths.. While there, we were lucky enough to watch a fashion show, breaking up our time exploring booths for inspiration. After Pure we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Though the tube system is pretty easy to master, I got caught up in conversation and had a movie moment as I eagerly looked towards the doors just as they closed. Fellow FIT students reached for me towards the glass as the train took off to the next stop with my friend and I still inside. Once we finally made it to the V and A Museum, we were privileged to see a beautiful wedding dress exhibit. We ended the day at Harrods, one of the most famous department stores in the world. If you’re exhausted reading this, I understand… just imagine living it. I’m still trying to recover.

 

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London by Night

On Wednesday, we began the day with our highly awaited WGSN appointment. Nothing makes you feel fancier or more motivated (in my humble opinion) than being at the offices of the top trend forecasters in the world. Following WGSN, we took a walking tour of the city from a lovely guide. She taught us about all the main sites and I finally made my way to see good ol’ Big Ben and the London Eye. Nothing like seeing the important touristy stuff last, right?

 

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My Hogwarts dreams coming true… finally

It was a fast-paced trip in a fast-paced city… It’s reassuring to see that after the relaxed Italian pace I’ll still be able to hold my own in New York next fall.  Everything about London was bursting with creativity and inspiration. It has history in its buildings and streets, yet the fresh, modern feel of New York. Am I gushing too much about my newfound love? Above all the things that made the school trip a success, one is making it out without getting taken down by a car on the wrong side of the road! As the Brits say, Cheers!

 

PS: I also got to see Platform 9 and ¾ for any HP fans out there… did I mention I love London yet?

Round Two

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First published article for The Florentine

The second week of school has just ended for me and a semester’s amount of work has been unloaded on my shoulders. It already seems daunting to balance both classes and travel, but thankfully I know I already managed for a semester, so I’m sure I can handle this oh so hard study abroad lifestyle once more. It’s been an exciting start to the semester already with my first article getting published at The Florentine, a FASA cooking class coming up this weekend, some amazing new teachers and returning teachers to make this semester even better, and trips coming up in the near future. The spring semester students have landed in Florence and have begun mingling with the full-year students who already know the  ropes. The friendships that began five months ago have just continued to grow. I can’t imagine what a new spring semester student coming from the stark FIT campus must think when all of us are mingling, talking, and joking both during each class break and before/after class. In just four short months, they will see that it is a lovely, inevitable part of studying at Polimoda.

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Pitti Bimbo Trade Show

Two weeks ago Pitti Uomo, a menswear tradeshow, graced the streets of Florence with some of the most beautiful and well-dressed men I’ve ever seen. This, of course, built up my excitement to attend Pitti Bimbo. A children’s tradeshow that is in its eightieth year, Pitti Bimbo is one of the first places big childrens brands show their new merchandise for next season. We got to explore the interesting grounds of La Fortezza, an old military base, where the tradeshow was held for two hours last Saturday morning. We were lucky enough to walk through the collections of Original Marines, Diesel Kids, and Twin Set to name just a few. There’s nothing like a childrens apparel show to prove to me that even Italian kids look better than I do.

In just a week I’ll be taking off for Paris, my first trip of the semester. London is a close second and is funded by the school. Our classes will take place there for four days. I opted to travel both before and after the London trip, so I suddenly have a ten-day trip coming up. After a relaxing break, I’m ready to see some new places: Paris, France, London, England, and Galway, Ireland. Prepping for this trip is stressing me out (my usual nature), but I know I have nothing to complain about. Three countries in ten days? *Insert dancer girl emoji right here.*

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Shades of yellow along the Arno

Today a few rare flurries of snow fell on Florence, much to my surprise. After expecting to miss Juno completely, I guess a small bit of snow still caught up to me across the world! It’s the start of a new semester in the same beautiful, renaissance city… and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s to my last four months In Florence, which should seem like a lot of time, but in reality doesn’t seem long enough. I’m ready to tackle Europe round two.

Buon Natale e Buon Anno

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The tree lighting at the Duomo… yep, I can’t believe I took this picture either.

The city of Florence is currently decked out for Christmas even though both “Natale” and the New Year have passed. The storeowners on each street join together to determine how they will decorate each year and it creates a unique feel throughout the city as you walk from one street to the other enjoying the change in lights, all of them white and sparkling as they light up the gorgeous city of Florence. After a lot of

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Via Romano and the bike lights

judging, my favorite street is the “bike light street,” Via Romano (see picture). On December 8th, amid studying, I went to the tree lighting by the Duomo and joined in to the countdown as they lit up a tree Rock Center style right in front of the Duomo. To put it simply, it was fun, beautiful, and filled with tradition.

At Polimoda, we ended classes on December 15th and finishing the semester almost came as a surprise. These past four months were the fastest of my life and I still cannot believe I am halfway done with my time here. I have been to over 12 major cities and five European countries. Nine months seemed so incredibly long, but suddenly I’m past the halfway point and completely baffled that I’ve made it this far and my time left is so short.

Unlike at FIT in New York where a sense of community can be hard to find in the Big Apple, I feel that I am friends (and not just acquaintances) with more than half the program here in Florence. I have more FIT friends abroad than I ever did in the city and for the first time I have a sense of community at school with Florence acting as our campus. All the FIT girls got together and enjoyed the last few days before the fall semester girls left. I had to say goodbye to some of my closest friends as they headed back to the states for next semester. Though they were happy to return home, they also were sad to leave such an amazing city and experience behind them.

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Chianti with my main men: my dad and brother!

Since the semester ended, my dad and brother came to visit me in Florence and than we traveled to Rome together for the New Year. It was unbelievable to see them and show them my life for the last four months. As we FaceTimed my family on Christmas, my grandma offered to fly me home for a few days if I found a decently priced flight. Though I had my mind set on staying in Florence until May, I definitely underestimated my homesickness. Once the offer was put in the air, I simply had to look into it and found a round-trip flight home for under 600 dollars (yes, dollars, not euros… This is not a joke). I am currently blogging from a five-hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany as I wait for a flight to bring me to the Empire State for 5 and a half days. I am ecstatic to arrive in New York for a few days, see my family, friends, and boyfriend, and then return to Florence, the city I currently call home, in less than a week.

I’ve been spending my break in Florence hanging out with the other full year FIT girls who are killing time over break, dying the tips of my hair a reddish pink (boredom), taking yoga (which is totally new to me and may become an addiction), and buying presents for everyone at home. As I purchased the gifts for those who couldn’t experience this with me I realized once again how grateful I have been for this opportunity and the opportunity that presents itself in the next semester. The people who got me not only to Florence, but also to this point in my life are the people who have stuck around through the ups and downs. I’m slightly embarrassed to write such a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason and I can’t not say it. Grateful is an understatement.

My dad clearly trusting the daughter that has lived in Florence for 4 months by using a map...

My dad clearly trusting the daughter that has lived in Florence for 4 months by using a map…

I ended my first semester abroad surrounded by amazing friends who created amazing memories. My bank account is lower than I can ever remember and I miss people more than I thought I would, yet I never doubt how worth it this is. I ended the semester with a great GPA and a better understanding of not only my major, but more importantly, myself. I secured an internship for next semester with The Florentine, a paper produced in English in Florence. In their next issue they are publishing an article I wrote and it will be distributed to the biggest reading base I have ever had (Eeekk!!). My family came to visit and see the sights and take in the beauty of this incredible Renaissance city that I’ve been lucky enough to call home. Now, I am fortunate enough to get a few blissful and exhausting – because lets be real, jetlag will beat me up first in New York and then when I return to Florence – days at home. So for now… arrivederci Firenze and and hello New York!

End of Semester

Florence at Christmas

The end of semester always comes with it’s own challenges. The hours get longer the work harder. It’s expected of you to be on the top of your game. Yet it comes with it’s own rewards, the time and energy you put in shows. The work you produce is commonly the best of the semester and is what shows your progress.

As most fashion design majors know it’s during those last few weeks that you forget what sleep is, or that normal people have a life outside of classes. You focus solely in the work and forget everything else. So by the time your final class roles around you’re both proud of your accomplishments and absolutely exhausted.

I think one of the things that always startles me about the end of the semester is that it seems to go by so quickly it’s as if four weeks go by in just over two. The next thing you know your almost done and its time to go home again. Living in Florence has been amazing and I’m so glad that I’ve had this opportunity. It’s given me a chance to grow as a person and to experience things I never would have been able had I not decided to study abroad.

So I will take this time as a break to enjoy the holidays and time spent with my family as an opportunity to rest and relax before diving back into school. So with the end of third semester comes the beginning of fourth, and next semester promises to be just as momentous as this semester has been. From the trip to Paris in February to the trials of fourth semester it promises to be an adventure.