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.

Bragging Rights

Last Monday we had a really casual day of school. We woke up, had some breakfast, and simply went to class… Except class was in Geneva, Switzerland and it happened to take place at the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization. To say that it was amazing is an understatement. If you’re wondering how exactly I ended up at 20 years old, in a sound proof room, at the organization that regulates trade across the world so am I, so I’ll start from the beginning.

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Looking serious at the WTO (or at least trying to look serious)

After learning about the WTO at the beginning of the semester in class, a student simply asked if we were capable of visiting it while we were in Europe. A few weeks ago classes ended about twenty minutes early for a quick meeting. All 50 of the FM students grouped ourselves into a classroom to hear Kaplan ask, “So who would be interested in a trip to Geneva to visit the World Trade Organization?” The room sat in pause for a moment as we took in the question before everyone as a group said the obvious answer: we’re more than interested. Fast forward to this past Sunday morning at 6:15 AM and you’ll see a group of students, in their most fashionable form of PJs, waiting for a bus to take us to Geneva. As we all boarded the bus, people immediately put in their headphones, draped blankets over their laps, and pushed pillows behind their heads to sleep for the beginning of the eight hour bus ride. We arrived in Geneva around 3 pm, checked into a hostel, and had the night free to browse the Christmas markets and freeze our butts off as we explored yet another beautiful European city. After some amazing cheese fondue split with friends, I returned to the hostel and fell into an exhausted slumber that lasted till we woke up to attend our oh so casual Monday classes.

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A peek of the WTO conference room

The world trade organization was just ten minutes down the street from our hostel. It drizzled on us as we walked in, all wearing our best business attire. We handed over our passports in exchange for a badge and after going through security we were led to a conference room. Complete with tan padded, soundproof walls, three long tables with mics and comfy, swivel desk chairs at each spot, and a booth where translators would normally sit, I felt about as official as I could get. After about five minutes of us taking photos and feeling too cool for out own good, in walked a woman who works at the WTO. She gave us an amazing presentation of how the WTO works, how meetings usually go down, and how decisions are made. She told us that a consensus vote for the WTO means that everyone must agree on all the regulations being set. If even one, super small country disagrees with what is proposed the regulation isn’t passed. This has currently led to the longest lapse of time between new WTO regulations, about 11 years. We also discussed the way meetings work. As much as I was hoping to hear juicy details about men and women in business suits yelling in multiple languages and jumping at each other across the table, it’s apparently much more civilized than that (who woulda thought?!). The tables are set in a way that is meant to provoke conversation and matters are handled respectfully. If anything gets out of hand, our guide, a secretary for the WTO steps in and guides the conversation. The WTO has three official languages, French, Spanish and English, although translators sit in glass booths to one side of the room, available for assistance if needed. As the meeting came to a close, I felt educated, lucky, and honestly pretty awesome. A Monday morning at the WTO? Just a day in the life.

Next we went to WIPO, or the World Intellectual Property Organization. We learned about patents, trademarks, design rights and more in a meeting equipped with headsets and mics once again. Patents on average take about 4 years to get passed. On the other hand, design rights, which protect my fellow FIT peers and their work, are usually passed in a couple of months. These rights last for about ten years before needing to be renewed. They allow men and women to protect their intelligence, their artistic ability, and their creativity. My favorite fun fact from the WIPO meeting was about the most well-known and recognizable brand in the world: Coca-Cola. Their trademark is worth a whopping 67.8 billion dollars.

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The view out the bus window when I tore my eyes away from Harry Potter

After our meeting, WIPO provided us with sandwiches and waters before we had to board the bus to head back to Firenze, equipped with eight hours worth of Harry Potter movies (if you’ve gotta be on a bus for that long, you have to at least have quality marathon movies ready). In case you are struggling with the math (or not even doing the math), you’re correct in thinking we didn’t even spend 24 hours in Geneva… But it was 23 and a half hours that were well spent! After learning about these organizations in textbooks for years and hearing about them on the news, they finally became a real, whole concept to me. Next time a teacher mentions the WTO or WIPO in class, I can say I’ve been there… those are some pretty sweet bragging rights if you ask me.