Mallory Dickson is finishing up her final year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan pursuing a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Mallory aspires to work in fashion public relations, marketing, or corporate social responsibility. Mallory is excited to begin her public relations internship next semester with Italian fashion brand Salvatore Ferragamo. In her spare time Mallory enjoys reading, yoga, travelling and listening to music.
Last January as the ball dropped down in Times Square I was preparing to ring in the New Year on a journey what I would soon realize to be the biggest adventure of my existence thus far. After somehow managing to fit a semesters worth of my life into one suitcase, I said “see you later” to New York and my loved ones and hoped on a plane to fly 4200 miles to my new home for the next four months in Florence, Italy. I was on emotional rollercoaster of excitement and anxiety as I watched the city lights fade away below me.
After safely arriving in the Peretola airport, I hopped in a cab to my apartment that the school arranged for me live in on south of the river in the neighborhood of Santo Spirito. When I saw the entrance to my apartment located over the cutest little ceramic shop with the sweetest Italian woman working my smile grew from ear to ear. My roommates arrived shortly after me, all of whom were strangers with completely different backgrounds from one another. Although I did not become the best of friends with my roommates, we all got along fine and were able to live together with out any problems. I mention this because in the beginning, roommates are the easiest friends to make, and I was very discouraged at first when I realized I didn’t really have anything in common with mine. I was alone and longing for comfort and instantly felt homesick. I was able to take this to my advantage however by encouraging myself to be more social in class to get to know my peers. I ended up making friends with some amazing people that will stay in my life forever.
I spent my first week abroad exploring the cobblestone streets, searching for the perfect cappuccino (which was not hard to find), and admiring the luxurious fashion and culture of the Florentines. My favorite part about the city of Florence is that it’s such a small city that everything is accessible by foot. Already having lived in a city for a few years and having a decent amount of the Italian language to my knowledge I feel that the adjustment period was much easier for me than a lot of other students. That being said, there were still a lot of changes and challenges to take in. For instance, Internet access in Italy is much slower and harder to connect to than in America. This was a big challenge for me to accept at first, but that disconnection from the virtual life was exactly what I needed to stay present fully appreciate my experience.
As a student studying fashion, most people were surprised that I chose to study in Florence over Milan, but people don’t realize how important fashion is to Florence as well. Florence has many museums dedicated to fashion such as the Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo and costume museum at Palazzo Pitti. The streets markets are lined with venders selling beautiful leather goods emphasizing the made in Italy aspect. Just outside of Florence is the textile museum of Prato, which is Italy’s largest exhibition and conservation of textiles. My school even put a fashion show for the design students, which I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to model in.
On my last day in Florence I met a woman while I was out to lunch that worked for Salvatore Ferragamo in New York. I took this opportunity to network with her and it paid off! I landed an internship with them for this coming semester in the New York flagship. Looking back now, I can’t believe this time last year I was just about to begin my journey. Studying abroad was by far the best decision I have made in my life. I have grown tremendously as a person from my experience and would encourage every one who is able to, to take advantage of such an amazing opportunity at hand.