FIT in Florence

FIT in Florence

October 18, 2016
by Alexandra

We’ll Always Have Paris

The city of lights brought so much joy, excitement, and memories over the course of our stay there, which was the perfect setting for us because it was Paris Fashion Week. Being in Paris was always a childhood dream of mine (and Audrey Hepburn escalated my obsession), so anything I saw or did absolutely astonished me.


Our trip continued on Thursday, when we left Paris for half the day to visit the iconic Château de Versailles. Let’s just say after spending several hours there, we’re all ready to move in! The decor, architecture, gardens, and everything in between was mesmerizing. The history was even more fascinating, and I’m so glad we snapped the praised picture in everyone’s favorite room, “The Hall of Mirrors.”



We then returned to Paris to visit to Montmatre, a famous retail location in the city. The view alone is worth the hike, where you get to see the entire city and the magnificent church, Sacré-Cœur. There were several vintage shops, handmade boutiques, and so many neat finds.


Afterwards, FASA (Florence Abroad Student Activites) organized a boat tour on Paris’ Seine, which allowed us to see a city from a whole new perspective. Famous points included Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, The Louvre, and of course…the Eiffel Tower! As mentioned before, this city has always been a dream of mine to visit, so let’s just say when the tower started sparkling I may or may not have been able to control myself.


Friday started off with a private store visit to Hermès, before the doors even opened (no big deal)! We learned the history of the French-based luxury brand, the origin of classic Birken and Kelly bag, and how they’ve kept the exclusivity of their brand dating back from 1837. A pinch me moment, that’s for sure!


We then continued with what I like to call tradeshow hopping. We visited five trade shows in just one day and learned a great deal about the industry! We started off at Paris sur Modes, Premiere Classe, and Don’t Believe the Hype, where we were able to look around, speak with the different brands and learn their stories, as well as do research during our class projects!

Our final destination was Tranoi, which we visited at two locations, Carousel du Louvre and Palais de la Bourse. The energy was really vibrant and welcoming, and we were able to get some great research and learn about global businesses in such a realistic way.


Unfortunately, Saturday brought us to our last day of our academic trip, but we ended on a high note with another concept store visit, as well as a visit to the Pompidou. We started off at the Pompidou, where we had a guided tour learning about modern art. We were able to learn more about abstract pieces of art, as well as in depth analyses of pieces, including a bunch by one of my favorites, Pablo Picasso! Plus, check out this view.


Our last stop together was to visit Merci Concept store. It has such an electric energy, selling everything from clothing and accessories to stationery and home deco. It was such a neat way to send our amazing week together off on a high note.

After the conclusion of the academic trip, we had the opportunity to independent travel, so my friends and I decided to stay an extra couple of days to explore and see more of the city. On Sunday, a group of us decided to go to Disneyland Paris and spend our day at the Happiest Place on Earth. I think we can all agree that this will go down as one of our favorite study abroad days! It was a day of nonstop fun, no worries, and lots of laughter. Plus, the park had some of Disney’s best rides; including Tower of Tower, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Space Mountain, and Indiana Jones.


So after a week of traveling and exploring two incredible cities, our trip came to a close on Monday. There is so much to do in such a limited amount of time, so my friends and I decided to squeeze in some of the things we missed. There is no way I could leave Paris without seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral. The medieval Catholic cathedral was just as spectacular on the inside as it was on the outside.



Last up were Champs-Élysées (aka the Fifth Ave of Paris) and Arc de Triomphe, which were definite must sees. While we got our last glimpse of Paris and the luxury, glamour, and beauty of such a historic city, we were also extremely excited to return home to Firenze for some well deserved rest!


Au revoir, Paris. I look forward to the day that we will meet again!

Con amore,



October 13, 2016
by Maria

First Academic Trip of the Year

In the blink of an eye, our first academic trip of the year came and went, and it couldn’t have been better! In less than 1 week, we traveled throughout two major cities and attended about 15 events and industry-related visits. We were all pretty exhausted and sleep-deprived by the end of the trip, but the amount of experience and insight that we gained from our visits in Geneva and Paris was well worth it!



First Stop: Geneva, Switzerland

Our first stop on our list was to the home of some of the world’s most delicious chocolate and favorite watches: Switzerland. Believe it or not, Switzerland is known for much more than just these exciting things; the Swiss are also known to be quite business savvy. While visiting, we were lucky enough to be able to attend two business-oriented events, including WIPO and the WTO forum.


As soon as we landed in Geneva, we headed straight to a meeting with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), where we learned about acts and systems that this organization uses, in order to protect companies and individuals under the law.



Day 2: WTO Forum in Geneva

With our name badges around our neck and notepads in our hands, we were ready to conquer the WTO and act as business officials for the day. The forum took place in a big conference room, where we each got our own headset and were able to listen in on what some major business officials had to say about international trade in its current state. If you are someone who enjoys a heated debate, this probably would have been exciting for you. Some of the attendees did not hold back their feelings and would go on extremely long rants about problems they were seeing in international trade and the lack of effort that they felt the WTO was contributing. Barely taking a break in between words, the rest of us would just watch in awe as these people let out all of their emotions and anger.

On our way into the WTO Forum!

On our way into the WTO Forum!


Day 3: First Day in Paris!

With this being my first ever visit to Paris, I could not help but gasp every five seconds, because of the amount of beauty that surrounded me.  I think I even shed a tear or two the first time that my eyes first lay sight on the Eiffel Tower; believe it or not, it is even bigger and more beautiful in person! Overall, Paris is so rich in history, and I think living in the historically-rich city of Florence has led me to appreciate this aspect of some of the major cities within Europe. Aside from the obviously beautiful buildings and monuments present in Paris, the appointments and visits that were scheduled for our academic trip enabled us to get an even better idea of everything that Paris really has to offer.


Beautiful Sighting of the Eiffel Tower

After a delicious breakfast full of crunchy baguettes, crepes and croissants, we were ready to begin our first appointment of the day at Li Edelkoort Trend Union. To be honest with you, I did not know much if anything at all about this company before hearing that we were going to visit their office. But, let me tell you that listening to the process and thought that goes behind this company’s work, has really opened up my eyes to the world of trend forecasting. Li Edelkoort is one of the world’s most well-established trend forecasters, who provides work and assistance to such a wide variety of companies, including those within the fashion, home, automobile, beauty and skin care, paper, and mass consumption industries. It was just incredible to witness the unique perception and eye for trends that these forecasters have, in order to present their findings to their clients.


Our next stop was to the Palais Galliera exhibition called “The Anatomy of a Collection,” which analyzed and paid interest to the whole process of owning a garment, from the moment that it was being created, to the moment that it is worn by its owner. This exhibit housed garments from some of the industry’s most iconic designers based in France, including Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. We were unable to take photos inside, but the pictures probably would not have done much justice to the beauty and craftsmanship that we were able to see in person!

Outside of "The Anatomy of a Collection" Exhibit

Outside of “The Anatomy of a Collection” Exhibit


Last but not least, we concluding our first day in Paris with a visit to the legendary Louvre Museum, which is nothing short of breath-taking. Originally built as a fortress in the 1100’s, this historic landmark features over 35,000 incredible works of art under its roof. Be sure to set aside a few hours-worth of a day for this visit, as it apparently takes 75 days to look at every work of art for 60 seconds. I know, it is pretty impossible that any of us would have the time to do this, but as long as you are able to spend a few seconds looking at a portion of the artwork present in the museum, you will be sure to appreciate its beauty!


Outside of the Louvre Museum!

September 23, 2016
by Maria

Benvenuti a Firenze!


Let me just start off by saying that every amazing thing that you hear about Florence before coming for the first time, is in fact true. Before I left New York, all I really knew about this city was gathered from people’s reviews and experiences, as well as from images found on the internet and seen in movies. But, believe me; they were not lying! Florence is just as beautiful and breathtaking as it is described to be, if not more so. In fact, even after living here for about 1 month, I am still pinching myself to make sure that everything I am experiencing is real life, and not just a figment of my imagination.  I am sure you will do the same once you get here too!


The Arno River!

I immediately fell in love with the winding Tuscan streets, historical buildings, breathtaking architecture, and of course the heavenly scents from the local gelaterias and neighborhood restaurants. The layout of the city, along with the rich history that embodies it, contribute to the charm that Florence offers. I couldn’t help but feel at home the second I first got a taste of Italy’s laid back lifestyle and rich culture, just from simply walking around and exploring. From seeing the locals getting their daily cappuccino at the local pasticceria, to enjoying a conversation with friends in the nearby piazza, you can’t not feel happy and at ease when really taking it all in.


Being that this semester is still fairly new, I have been trying to take advantage of the free time that I have and walk around as much as I can. Walking has always been one of my favorite activities to do in my free time, because I find it the best way to really explore and get to know your surroundings. One of the first thoughts that came to mind during my first week of being here was, “Everyone told me how tiny Florence is and how easy it is to navigate here, so why do I have no idea where I am going?!” I have come to realize that this feeling is completely normal when you first arrive in a new setting. Of course every street will seem like a maze to you and you might even have trouble figuring out where your apartment is. But, I can assure you that it does get easier! Also, don’t be afraid to get lost at first; sometimes, that is the best way to learn your surroundings.

Navigating the city streets and just assimilating to the culture altogether takes some time, so here are a few tips and pointers that may help you out if you study abroad here:

  • Use the Arno River as your guiding point: I have heard some people tell me to use the Duomo as a guiding point if you get lost, but this did not honestly help me much at first, because I had no clue where the Duomo was in relation to everything else! I understand that it is very possible to get lost even when you are using a map (you will find yourself squinting to even just figure out a street name). Since the streets tend to wind and intersect each other, I find it easiest to use a point of reference that is pretty much a straight line, and using the different bridges as a guiding point help a lot also!arno-houses
  • Coffee Routines: If you are someone who has grown addicted to coffee from living in NYC the past two years like me, then you should know that American coffee is hard to come by here. But believe me, as soon as you get into the routine of having a daily espresso or cappuccino, you will soon forget about the need for a large cup of coffee. Also, the cappuccinos are usually between one-two Euros here, so you will be sure to save some money!

A cappuccino and chocolate croissant at the News Caffe for only 2.20 Euros!

  • Speaking the language: I know it is difficult and intimidating to even attempt to speak Italian to the locals, because you may not feel all that confident with your vocab skills that you have gained from only a few years of Italian class. Nevertheless, you should still try! The first day that I got here, I had a reality shock when I tried to buy a bottle of water and realized that I had to speak Italian to ask for it. My mind must have been in a temporary fog and I forgot that I wasn’t still in America. So, I quickly scrambled a few words together and just hoped that the shopkeeper would understand what I was attempting to say. I realized that it doesn’t hurt to test out your language skills, because it is really such a rewarding feeling when an Italian actually understands what you are trying to say. If you don’t have such great luck at first, the good thing is that mostly everyone knows some English here, so you will definitely be able to get by!


  • Eating on a student budget: You will surely be tempted to try everything in sight the minute that you smell the wonderful aromas sifting through restaurant windows, and you will probably want to try it all at once. However, the reality of the situation is that we are still students after all, and probably don’t have the money to go out to expensive dinners every night. The good news is that you can still eat really well here without breaking your bank account! There are plenty of panino shops where you can get a panino for five euros or under (I recommend: Il Panino near Santa Maria Novella; All’Antico Vinaio; and Sandwichic). For a tasty treat after any meal, gelato is always the answer! My all-time favorite so far is La Carraia, where you can get a gelato cone for only one Euro, and it is the most amazing thing you will ever try! How much better can you get than that?


    La Carraia Gelato in a cup-1.50 Euros!

I could probably go on and on forever about the many things to learn and discover while exploring the streets of Florence. But, I will leave some of the surprise for you to find out, and I will be sure to give you more helpful pointers and thoughts in my post to come! So, ciao for now!