What Should I Bring??!?!? (Part 2)

So I’m good with clothing and shoes what else do I need to bring? Well here are some handy tips for making a semester or year stay in Florence just a tad bit easier:

Ten Technology Tips:

1. if you’re into photography bring a good camera the pictures you take can last a life time, but if you’re not so big into photography bring a small camera that has a GOOD battery! If it doesn’t have a good lasting battery it can be frustrating when you are on academic trips see an awesome picture you want to take take out your camera and whoops… it’s out of batteries.

2. ADAPT with ADAPTERS. If they are good adapters (you can buy at brook-stone or other electronic stores) they will become your best friends.

3. bring an extra charger for your phone! I know too many girls that end up loosing their charger on a trip or having it broken then end up without a phone for a month.

4. Safety first: Make sure you know how to run virus checks on your computer (that you will bring!) or you have a good firewall (should do this regardless of where you are) because it would be horrible if your computer crashed. All that information…. sad day. Oh and make sure your computer has wifi and a good battery.

5.Hulu and Redbox don’t work…. so if you can’t stand to miss any of your favorite TV shows or movies… bring them with you and this can be a smart idea for the plane ride and if you plan on doing any long traveling (oh and movie night with friends is always fun… don’t forget the chips!)

6. I cried when I found out Pandora doesn’t work…. but your itunes will work perfectly and so does their radio ap. So bring a good music player. (oh and a small alarm clock is always good!)

7. Make sure all your appliances are 220 volts compatible, or you will see smoke!

8. Do not bring your American hair dryer or straightener unless you have the proper transformer or power converter.

9. Don’t forget to bring a good lasting pair of your favorite headphones. Music is always a must.

10. Last but not least…. don’t forget to bring a reliable INTERNATIONAL phone…. but beware in Italy it is pay as you go (buy a card at the store plug in the number and you are good to go until you run out of credit).

FAQ’s

I’ve recently been getting emails from many prospective students heading to Florence to study abroad with similar questions (and though I’ve probably answered all of you individually) I thought I’d write a quick post to help out anyone else with questions.

1. How did you find your apartment? Did you do research before hand? How did you find your roommates? Does the landlord speak English? 

Honestly, finding an apartment is the last thing you should worry about. I did no research before coming to Italy and had no idea who I was going to be living with. But during your first week in Florence (orientation week), an agency called Florence and Abroad will come to school and hand out a huge packet with available apartments. They’ve been working with FIT for over 10 years now (if I remember correctly) and they’re great! they speak perfect English and know what they’re doing. And during orientation week, you get a chance to meet everyone in your major and the entire study abroad program as well, which gives you the opportunity to find your roommate(s) :) And I’m pretty sure not all the landlords speak English, as most of them are quite elderly, but you can definitely get by.. be creative! Use the universal sign language or keep Google translate open! haha
And, when you’re signing a lease for your apartment, you always have the option to sign for 1 semester at a time (which is what my roommates and I did). Which gives you the option to move into another apartment just incase the place you got wasn’t your first choice.

(Oh and you also have the choice to stay in the Residence Hall, or stay with a host family. Which I’m not too familiar with either since I am living in an apartment. However if you ask about those options to your study abroad director, I’m sure they’ll have answers for you!)

2.What did you do about money? How did your parents give it to you? About how much do you spend in a month? 

The way my roommates and I get our money is by having our parents put money into our bank accounts, and we just go to the ATM machines and take out Euros. I use Bank of America whose sister bank is BNL here in Florence, and there are many around. So I don’t get charged for using the ATM to pull out cash. Although you will get the exchange rate charge, but that applies to anyone using any bank. I also hear that TD Bank does not charge for ATM use, but I would double check with that. And other than those 2 banks, I’m not sure which other banks won’t charge you. (And be careful when using ‘Bancomats’ aka ATM’s that aren’t connected directly to a bank, bc there have been many instances that it’ll eat your card, and it’s a hassle to get back.)

And how much you spend monthly will differ between everyone. Rent is usually between 400-600 Euros/month (of course depending on location, # of ppl you live with, if you’re sharing a room or not, etc.) And even with money for food, it really depends on whether or not you like to eat out a lot, or cook at home. But I do find that grocery shopping here is cheaper than the states especially if you’re going to the markets to buy fresh produce (though you may be grocery shopping much more frequently). Also I’m sure you’re aware of your spending habits, whether you like to shop a lot, or save up, and that doesn’t change much here.

3. I can’t speak Italian, will that be a problem? 

Honestly, I came to Italy and forgot all the Italian I learned during the previous semester. I walked into class saying ‘Hola’ instead of ‘Ciao’.. haha but Florence being such a small city with such a huge population of American students, many of the Italians have picked up English. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to learn Italian, but you can definitely get by without knowing much. However, you probably should know a few words/ phrases before getting here..

ITALIAN 101:
“Ciao”- Hi/ Bye
“Arrivederci”- Bye
“Buongiorno”- Good morning
“Buonasera”- Good evening (which I think is used starting around 3-4pm)
“Grazie”- Thank you
“Prego”- You’re welcome
“Quanto costa?” -How much does this cost?
“Dov’e…..?- “Where is….?

These should get you by during orientation week, before you being your Italian classes! Just remember to be respectful since you’ll be in a foreign country with a completely different culture!

4.What supplies did you bring with you? Are any provided? What about fabric?

This question is for the design students, and I would say to bring all your markers and color pencils, and if you’re one to use water color, bring those too. The art stores do sell all these products, however they are much more expensive here than in the states, and they may not have the brand that you prefer. Also, if you have specific tracing/marker paper you like, bring those as well. And for your sewing, draping, pattern making classes, don’t forget to bring your rulers, scissors, pins, sewing needles, and a few threads. I actually only brought my rulers, scissors, and pins and bought the rest here, which wasn’t much at all. There’s a Singer store right by the school campus which has all the basic necessities. And the school gives you your first 5 meters of muslin, and 2 rolls of pattern paper, then you need to buy whatever you need for the rest of the semester/ year. And muslin here is 11 euros/5 meters, which is cheaper than NYC.. (if I remember correctly), I think I spent like $17/5 yards. And yes, your term garment fabric is all graciously provided for you!! No worries about having to spend a fortune on your term garments :)

5. How’s the workload? I heard it’s a lot more relaxed in Italy than in NYC, is that true? And you can’t stay in the work rooms till 2am, right? 

From my experience, I do find being in Florence to be a lot more relaxing than in NYC. But you have to take into consideration that when I was in NY, I was taking 9 classes and interning at the same time. While here in Florence, I’m only going to school, which already makes things a lot easier. And also, the culture here in general is much more relaxed than the NYC hustle. Meaning that you cannot work in the labs till 2am, and school is not open on the weekends. The labs close by 8pm, which means that you will have to utilize your class time very well. And 7 hours of draping sounds long, but it’s actually not tot bad because by the end of class, you’ll probably have all your work done, and won’t need to go into the lab again until your next class. (which is SUPER rare in NY, because I remember spending every weekend and weeknight in the draping labs). I would say the workload is the same, as in you get the same # of assignments/ projects as you would at FIT in NY but oddly, it’s not as stressful as it was in NY.

6. Do many students go home for winter break? 

I would say 50/50. I know many students went home, but many stayed in Florence, or traveled throughout Europe! It’s actually much cheaper to travel around Europe than buying another round trip ticket to the states and back!

Hope this helped some of you! These answers are my thoughts and opinions after being here for almost a year. But if you have any other specific questions I didn’t answer, feel free to ask in the comments below or email me: daisyo@gmail.com

p.s- Remember to come with an open mind! This isn’t America, and definitely not NYC. Nothing will be as easy or as convenient but Florence is so rich in culture, art and of course food! So hope you enjoy your time abroad!

WE DID IT!! CLASS OF ’12

Last night was the night of the IFD2 AAS graduation & exhibition @ Galleria d’arte Civico here in Florence. It’s been an exhausting few weeks but so worth it. It was such an incredible feeling to finally see all our hard work pay off and on display for the public. The graduation was more like a small party with an aperitivo of endless food & drinks and just happy faces all around. We were also lucky enough to have Ferruccio Ferragamo to give our commencement! :) Now I can say that I was able to meet him AND give him 2 kisses on the cheek ;)


{mini fruit tarts}

{IFD2- Gaysha Ruiz & her guest, Samantha enjoying some food}

{left to right: Christin Noel, Shannon McGrath (IFMM), Gabriella Bonatesta (IFMM), Katelyn Odom, Brittany Keener, Taylor Amaroso, Elisa Rodriguez, & Grace Kim}

{design by: Elisa Rodriguez}

{design by: Christin Noel}

{design by: Brianne Judd}

{design by: Taylor Amoroso}
{left to right- designs by: Brittany Keener, Katelyn Odom, Christin Noel, Daisy O}

{hard work sure pays off :) }

{WE DID IT!!}

Huge thanks to Director Sass Brown, and her assistants, Grace Torreggiani & Anna Morandini for doing all the behind the scenes work and making everything possible and seamless from orientation week till now. And of course, thanks to our Professors, Lisa Feuerherm and Veronica Vivarelli helping us prepare our portfolios and exhibition garments, putting up with all our angst. We couldn’t have done it without all of you! We truly appreciate all of your help along the way. :)
& Best of luck to all those going into BFA & for those going into the industry!!

And now the hardest part is staying in school mode for the next 4 weeks… :X

What Should I Bring??!? (PART 1)

Just warning you… It is really really really hard to get packages from the state send (and not to mention it is really expensive). This is all up for opinions but this is what I think the “bare necessity” is Lets start with my favorite category.

Clothes:

Bring warm pajamas because the winters are known for being pretty cold. Make sure you have tights for the cold weather (they will become your best friends and the more you have the more you can switch up your style). You also will want to have at least one good ‘snow’ jacket (it can get that cold and you never know the weather for when you’re traveling). Warm gloves but leave the scarves at home… there are millions in Florence and they typically are cheap and very cute. Bring a hat and rain gear (waterproof jackets)! For the warmer weather think Las Vegas in the summer… go Miami but also keep in mind if you dress in too little you might get a lot of unwanted attention (and it can be dangerous too). Also remember if you forget anything you can have it sent over (but I would keep this as a last resort) or you can just buy new from OVS, United Colours of Benetton, H&M or any of the famous Designer shops that can all be found in a short walk from the Duomo (and the same goes for shoes). Oh and don’t forget your party dresses….

Shoes:

5 inch heels and higher… leave them at home unless you have a perfect worst heel scenario skill set. Don’t mess with the pot holes or cobble stones of Florence unless you like sporting plaster and crutches. Have one good pair of walking shoes that you won’t mind throwing away or won’t mind if they get dirty… you will walk a lot and the streets might look clean but you never know and don’t wear white shoes… your shoes will not last a day if you have to walk a lot. Bring a pair of uggs to wear around the house. The homes get dusty quick and the floors can get really cold at night. And don’t forget a pair of wellingtons… they will be your lifesaver in Venice and during the rainy days (and don’t worry about spending a little more for them… It’s a good investment if they are durable).

Bags:

Bring a 55cm x 40cm x 20cm sized suit case and no bigger if you want to do any cheap traveling around or out of Italy. Other than that… bring some cute bigger bags to complete your wardrobe, bigger because of the transportation of all your materials to and from school. Oh and you’ll want at least one of  your bags to be waterproof.

Other tips: if you love your shampoo and can’t live without it… bring enough for a year just encase you can’t find it here and it will be less expensive to bring it with you because of the conversion rate. Oh and peanut butter… you’ll want to bring some if you’re addicted to it (like me). almost 5 euros for a VERY small tub just doesn’t cut it sometimes.

Next time we’ll talk appliances!

Spring Break in Ibiza, Spain

One of the best things about studying abroad is the ability to hop on and off a plane and travel all throughout Europe. Even with all the work we have left to do before graduation (next week!!!), a few girls and I took a 4 day vacation to Ibiza, Spain.. after all, it IS spring break :) The beaches were incredible and absolutely breathtaking. Ibiza’s known for it’s clubs and bars right along the beaches during the summer. And because it was off season, the beaches were quieter, but I definitely enjoyed being able to relax with the incredible view of the Mediterranean and it’s crystal clear aqua waters!


{greeted by blue skies & palm trees}

{the view at lunch}

{couldn’t leave Spain without having some paella!}

{40 euro cab ride to the most beautiful beach ever, Cala Conta}

{BLISS}

{crystal clear, aqua waters}

{brunch along the beach}

{the sun starting to set}

I never wanted to leave.. but back to reality! Although the trip was short, it was well worth it. It was definitely nice being able to take a break from doing work, but now back to the grind till next week! Hope everyone finishes strong! :)