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  • Mackenzie Gallagher

Italian Dream, Ciao For Now!

A little over a year ago, I made the exciting decision to study abroad in Florence, Italy my sophomore year. I COULD NOT WAIT to experience life in a new culture and learn more about the fashion industry firsthand. The months leading up to my travel consisted of hard work and long hours spent preparing for this once and a lifetime journey. I was about to leave everything I knew and everyone I was closest to for five months. Before I could believe it, the time had come to pack and head for the airport! So many thoughts went through my head, feelings of excitement, nervousness, anxiousness and uncertainty of what I would experience.

From the moment I arrived in Florence, everything about it felt like home. This was the way of life I had always dreamed of living. The coffee was stronger, the food was richer, the bread was fresher, the fashion was riskier. There was something so special about living in a place of such history and fine art. The Italian people were unlike any other people I'd met. They shared an endless amount of love and kindness towards us. Italian's are never in a hurry! They live their lives on their own time and enjoy all the good and beautiful things it has to offer. This includes mealtimes! I will always have fond memories of the good times and hard laughs we shared at the dinner table. Each night, dinner was something of an event to look forward to, a time to celebrate your accomplishments from the day and indulge in some of the best food in the world. I remember the first time feeling like a local in this dreamy city. The first time letting the cobblestone streets lead me to some familiar places. This was when I could walk into my favorite café and confidently order my breakfast in Italiano: Brioche con la crema e cappuccino. Oh, the fashion Italy has to offer. Something so extraordinary one can't quite put into words. Neutral shades filled the streets and the smell of leather radiated like no other. As long as I can remember, it has always been my dream to attend fashion week in one of the four major cities. This dream finally came true when we attended Milan Fashion Week. I was completely captivated by this fashion capital of the world. Witnessing the like of Duomo di Milano and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II took my breath away. Until now, I have only seen these architectural beauties in photos through eyes that weren't my own. It was surreal, to say the least. During the remainder of our weekend in Milan, I continued seeing colors and trends which gave me even more of a respect for fashion and creativity. Newfound shades of greens, blues, and purples flourished on the streets and in many well-known fashion houses. This city means something special to me and always will. Everything about the fashion of this country was truly mesmerizing. I was in awe of the beauty and style surrounding us each day. There was a different kind of energy there, the kind of energy that humbles and excites you for a future in the fashion industry.

Studying abroad is something many people want to pursue during college, wherever it may be. It takes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to grow in ways you never thought you could and experience things you never thought you'd be able to experience. Most importantly, at least from my perspective, studying abroad changes your outlook on the world and brings you closer together with people from many different cultures. I never could have expected this unbelievable experience would end the way it did, yet it taught me so many new things about myself. It taught me to always live in the moment and never take things for granted, even the little things that make you smile. You never know when something could end in just a split second. During my first week in Florence, someone told me to get a journal and write at least one thing in it each day. That sometime in the future, I will have it to look back on and reminisce of my time there. I never forgot that. My journal came with me on every weekend trip, every day in class and every walk around Florence. Although my journey was cut short, I hope to one day continue what I had started and had every page of my journal filled. If you ever choose to study abroad, keep a journal and write about even the smallest things. Write about how much you love the look of the cobblestone streets at night after it rains. Write about your interactions with the locals. Take in every moment. Make new connections and relationships, you never know when they might come in handy. Be the best, most adventurous version of yourself and try things you never thought you would try. Eat the best food and drink the freshest drinks. Savor it all, you won't regret it. -Calli Cooper, Sophomore fashion student





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