Don’t panic!

I’ve been looking at the FIT in Italy Facebook fan page in order to find out what questions you want to be answered. It seems like lots of you are worried about some of the technical issues.

Well, there is definitely nothing to be stressed out about. Even though, you are 4159 miles away from New York, everything can be worked out.

Let me give you some tips…

1. How do I register for classes?

In the past the FIT in Florence Office was responsible for registering all students for classes. Since Spring’13 semester, you’ll able to do that on your own. You choose the schedule that suits you best and attend classes together with your friends. Very convenient. Also, if you’d like to enroll in any other classes beyond the IFMM curriculum, you’re more than welcome. Exactly like back home.

2. I love being involved in school’s activities. Are there any clubs I can join down there?

Of course! We even have FITSA here. They are responsible for organizing all of the fun stuff. We already went to a soccer game, had a potluck, had a hiking trip in Fiesole, we just came back from Perugia Eurochocolate Festival and soon we’ll be taking cooking classes! There’s also a yearbook team (I hadn’t known about that until I came here) who work on a student yearbook. It’s very exciting. If you’re a sport enthusiast… Unfortunately, there are no teams here but if you’re eager you can play basketball, volleyball, tennis, jog, row, do yoga or pilates. No worries, you still are fit at FIT.

3. I’ve been thinking about becoming RA in New York next year but can I still get a chance while being in Italy?

This position stays open as well. Under these circumstances, the Residential Office enables you to e-mail your application.

4. I want to intern the semester I’m back from Italy. Would it work?

Sure! If you probably know, before registering for an internship course, you’re obliged to attend an internship orientation meeting. It can be done here in Italy as well. Just e-mail the Resident Director and she’ll explain everything to you and arrange it.

5. I would like to get an internship… Is it an option?

It might get sort of complicated but nothing is impossible. You just need to meet certain criteria that concern your student visa. Same thing with getting a job. It’s not that horrible – I’ve been through that in the US because I’m an European Union citizen. If you enjoy writing, they offer some editorial internships at the Florentine (a weekly newspaper, the only one for English-speakers in Florence). As Zach wrote in the previous post, we found out more about it when Nita Tucker, the creator of it, visited us during our lecture.

However, keep in mind that studying abroad is about something more than gaining experience through interning. It is also about the culture, adjusting to environment you’re unfamiliar with and simply enjoying the surroundings. Believe me or not, it’s all about broadening your horizons and making you an even more competitive candidate for a job.

If you have any more doubts, please feel free to ask!

I’m attaching some more pictures from the school you may attend in the closest future. I also wish you a great pre-departure I know you’re having very soon.

Ciao!

Mid-October

Hey yall. I’m sitting home on a Friday night, writing my second blog post, after a tiresome week studying and living in Florence. Looking back on the past few days, it’s been pretty jam-packed. This past week was midterms, so you can only imagine our sleepless nights and our endless test-taking/project presenting. Renaissance Art required a ton of memorization and analytical thinking. We had a huge project due for The Business of Licensing class, so we were busy putting together a succint/informative physical presentation, and slaving away at our 28-page research paper on licensed goods. Leadership Development for Retailing had us quizzing each other with note cards non-stop, and I think we all basically know how to be managers at this point.

On Wednesday, we had one of our weekly FITSA meetings. We discussed some recent group activities, such as a hike through the mountains to Fiesole, our most recent potluck dinner, and a soccer game at Florence’s own “calcio” stadium. We also discussed things we’ll be doing together in the near future, ie: The Perugia Chocolate Festival (the BIGGEST chocolate festival in EUROPE and we are going TOMORROW!!!!!), more soccer games, cooking classes, and a trip to Venice for Carnival.

As I just mentioned, tomorrow we will be waking up bright and early to go to Perugia, where they hold a MASSIVE annual chocolate festival, called Eurochocolate. We are so extremely excited to stuff our faces with nothing but chocolate for an entire day. They apparently have some pretty groundbreaking choco-related things there, like a map of Italy (important monuments like the Colosseum/Duomo di Milano included) made ENTIRELY OF CHOCOLATE. As a big choco-head, I am personally excited beyond belief.

Today, we took a trip to Prato to see one of the biggest/most well known textile-industry locations in the world. It’s been producing yarns and wool textiles for over 1,000 years, so it was a pretty significant amount of fiber-observing/touching. We went to a Textile Museum, and did a lot of standing around, watching machines do their thing, spinning, stretching, manipulating and wrapping up long strings of fibers being spun into yarns. We saw the entire rainbow, every imaginable color of yarns. HOWEVER, I will be doing a separate post on this because I have so many fabulous photos to share from today.

Also, some of us were paid an in-class visit from Nita Tucker, who is an author, public-speaker, and is the founder of The Florentine, which is the only newspaper in all English in Florence. She was very inspirational, and has been on OPRAH!!! Perhaps that means as much to you as it does to me? She also told us some of her favorite places to go in Florence, which we are SO grateful for. Anyway, I will be wiring a special blog post just about her as well, so just put this thought in your back pocket.

So… to make a long story short, we finished midterms, went on a fun field-trip to Prato today, and will be going to the Chocolate Festival tomorrow. Things are swell for us here in Italy, to say the least. Also, I feel it’s worth mentioning that my friends and I found a GREAT Mexican restaurant and had delicious burritos (4 euro!) and a ginormous plate of nachos with salsa and guac (sort of hard to come by in Italia) (5 euro split b/w us!). I was feeling filled to the brim with Mexican, bean cheese and rice filled lovin’.

Below are some photos I took, hope you enjoy! Until next time, I’m Zach, 3rd year FIT student, studying abroad in Florence and loving life! xx

Vivi bene?

Chiaroscurro – a really good coffee bar

Across the Arno

Rainy Piazza Signoria

Mexican food in my belly!

A nice lil' tuscan country scene.

A nice lil’ tuscan country scene.

A medieval castle in Prato

This is how they make a heathered knit

some pretty cool yarns

What’s Gucci, yo?

Hey guys!

My name is Zach, and I’m studying International Fashion Merchandising/Marketing in Florence for my 3rd year at FIT. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be blogging for the FIT in Florence blog now!

Today, us Merchandising/Marketing students took a trip to the GUCCI Headquarters, located in Scandicci, just outside of Florence. In this particular building, there are 1,200 employees. Despite the pouring rain, we were all wide-eyed and excited to see the secrets held inside of this huge designer facility. Upon arrival, we received guest passes with our names on them to be worn around our necks.

We were greeted warmly by a girl who was not much older than us students. She studies part time in Milan and works full time as an assistant to the Production Manager for Gucci in Scandicci. She gave us a tour of each department of the facility. Here, they develop products and create all of the prototypes which are then sent out to 60 different factories who produce and assemble the goods. We were shown an archive of every textile used for their accessories. Every kind of leather (crocodile, python, Louisiana alligator, ostrich) with every type of finish imaginable. I personally loved the black “rubberized” leathers. The things I’d do for a motorcycle jacket of this material! We saw furs of all forms and colors, synthetic materials, sheet-thin deer-skin, and more. The artisans showed us how they cut the leathers, using only the most flawless parts of the leather and using the less-nice parts for finishing touches and small goods. They source from the best tanneries located in Florence. Everything is hand cut using a very tiny, special cutting knife that’s sharpened before every use. Going through the workshop, we saw tons of skilled workers, each working on a different Gucci product, mainly handbags. There is only one man who makes the customized travelling trunks. They take about a month to make each, and sell for an unimaginable amount. You can take your pick from buying a new house, or a hand-made Gucci trunk. Some recent clients mentioned were Rihanna and John Travolta (who apparently uses his two trunks as coffee tables). They can be made with any textile of your choice, and are finished with luxurious hardware, usually gold. Lastly, we were taken to “the bamboo room.” This is where they finish, heat and reform stalks of bamboo for their famous “bamboo bag”. The bamboo is imported from China, and only the roots are used because they are strong and not hollow like the plant itself.

Walking through the halls of Gucci’s headquarters is an overwhelming feeling. We all know gucci, and the quality that is associated with it. Some of us know the crazy story of the Gucci family (Guccio’s vision, the rebellion of his grandchildren, Maurizio’s assassination). Gucci represents a powerhouse of a family, their struggles, and their triumphs. Along the walls are black and white photographs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, showing family members, celebrities, and handsome people wearing Gucci. The lights inside were bright and everything sparkling clean. I hope to someday work at a place like this.

The next time you see a Gucci bag, consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making it. Know that it passes through this facility in Scandicci, and is, in every aspect, a luxury item!

Mangio, Mangia, Mangiamo…

Studying abroad is also about culture and a big part of Italian culture is the FOOD.

Well, maybe there is no a big variety of restaurants in Florence (there are simply not that many cuisines as in NYC) but you still have numerous options to try new dishes and choose your new favorite one.

Believe me or not but there are way more types of cheeses here than probably anywhere else on the planet. While going to a regular grocery store you’ll have to make a decision and pick one from… parmesan, pecorino, stracchino, groviera or gorgonzola… so better be decisive:)

Talking about restaurants… I absolutely love sandwiches (panini) served in a lunch place across the street from our campus. There is also a great gelateria just around the corner called B.ICE. We went there during the orientation week and I always come back when I feel like eating gelato. They offer so many flavors… My favorite one is… LAVENDER (I’m not sure if you can eat it anywhere else in the world!). My friend fell in love with their peach and pear gelato – it tastes like real fruit! As you may already realized, I love desserts. So far I think that they serve best tiramisu in a terrace café in a department store la Rinascente. Moreover, you can’t avoid eating pizza while studying in Italy. Forget the Grimaldi’s or any other NYC Pizzeria and go to Gusta Pizza on the other side of the Arno river in Florence. In my opinion, it is definitely the number one pizza in town. Their bestselling one is prepared with rucola, cherry tomatoes, mozarella and parmesan cheese. I bet you’ve already got hungry but in Italy there is so much more things you need to have – any kind of pasta (you can get delicious discounted ravioli at San Lorenzo Market on Tuesday morning and you absolutely need to visit Siena to taste a special kind of pasta – pici), Florentine steak and cannoli (pastry dessert).

Don’t leave Italy without drinking crodino or chino – their refreshing sodas… and of course Italian coffee is ranked among the finest on the Earth.

I hope I explained you a little bit about the Italian cuisine and now it’s time for me to eat dinner;)

Milano, una bella città.

Ciao ragazzi!

Believe it or not but we have already started our fifth week of studies in Italy. It’s incredible how fast the time flies!

Probably you want to ask what we have been up to… Well, we just got back from our first academic trip to Milan, definitely one of the world’s fashion capitals. Milan is a city in Lombardy, Northern Italy so it differs from Tuscan Florence a lot. This journey was full of fashion, art and culture… full of lifetime experience. I’ll be honest with you – the itinerary itself was pretty exhausting. We visited numerous places in different neighborhoods of the city. I’ll name just a few things on our list – White Trade Show, Mantero Factory (they manufacture printed fabrics for designers such as Pucci, Chanel, Gucci, Ferragamo etc.), Lake Como (where George Clooney has his house), two concept stores – 10 Corso Como and Spazio Rossana Orlandi, a department store la Rinascente, The Last Supper painting in Santa Maria delle Grazie church, Duomo rooftop (where we took the jumping pic), Picasso and Vogue exhibits and many, many more. Some students even participated in AC Milan soccer game!

Anyway, Milan for me, and I believe for majority of us, was very inspirational. I realized how important it is to explore various parts of the world and connect it to your future career ideas. I was especially amused by the unique atmosphere created in 10 Corso Como concept store. It’s one of a kind – you can shop your favorite clothes, find interesting books, listen to music, look at some exhibits (now Peter Lindbergh’s photography) and drink delicious coffee over there. All in a spacious mansion – very European and stylish.

I’m just giving you some highlights of the trip because I believe that you’ll join FIT in Italy and see what a beautiful city it is and collect your own memories…