Wednesday, February 18, 2015

" I get ideas about what’s essential when packing my suitcase. " -Diane von Furstenberg

        The moment I received my acceptance letter from the host university in Milan, I could not contain my excitement. I was ridiculously happy because my dream was beginning to fall into place so perfectly. After moments of complete shock, wanderlust, and joy, my first thought was “I have no idea what I should pack…” I came to the decision that packing was the last thing I should be worried and I just put it on the back burner for a while (I definitely recommend that you actually take some time to plan out what you’re going to bring with you abroad). I went for the whole “I am just going to go with flow and see what happens” mindset and in retrospect; I wish I gave a little more thought to the things I packed. A lot of students struggle with what they should pack and the lists are great for the necessities, but they are pretty generic. I have to say that studying abroad and traveling with budget airlines through Europe will actually make you a professional packer, and I would love to share some of tips with you.

Tip #1:
Do Your Research!
This sounds like I am giving you assignments to do, but it is honestly an important factor to think about when you start packing.
  1. What the weather is going to be in you host city
  2. Cultural and Social Norms for apparel (Example: Some countries have very strict gender related attire)
  3. Means of transportation (If you have to walk a tremendous amount think about comfortable shoes)

Tip #2:
Look over Basic Study Abroad Packing Lists!
  • These lists are perfect to get a general idea of all the necessities you should bring with you, then you can tailor them to your needs. The lists are a great foundation! I actually used the method of starting with neutral colors and simplistic styles, and adding trendy pieces like colorful cardigans or kimonos, bold print tank tops/ shirts, and a FEW of my favorite pieces of jewelry so you can be versatile with the outfits. I would mix and match different pieces to make my outfits look a little bit different each time, even though I have a smaller amount of clothes and accessories.

Tip #3:
Pick Clothes For Different Occasions!
  • When I packed for Italy, I wanted to make sure that I had appropriate and culturally aware attire for going out to clubs, restaurants, religious establishments, or any occasion. When you first experience some of these outings, just make observations about how some the people are dressed and use this as inspiration for the next time you go out.

ü  Notes from My Experience:
  • When I dressed up in a bodycon dress and heels to a club, they immediately knew I was a foreigner and I got a lot of unwanted attention. The style of the Italian girls in Milan was a bit more conservative, so I used their style as inspiration. I wore blazers or blouses with a higher neckline, and my experiences at the clubs were a lot smoother.
  • On another note, I traveled a lot within Italy and I loved visiting historical sites and churches. Out of respect for the culture and beliefs, you should cover chest area and your shoulders. I wear spaghetti straps and tank tops all the time, so I would actually just bring a super light cardigan that I could button up to cover everything.

Tip #4
Figure Out Where To Pack Hygiene Products!
So this is kind of a “learn as you go” concept and varies from country to country.
  • First, when buying hygiene products, you should purchase the ones that you know you won’t have access to. For instance, I knew that my African American hair products would not be available in Italy, so I made sure I purchased them here in America and had enough to last throughout the semester abroad.
  • Second, buy a few travel sized hygiene products to pack in your carry on, just in case the unexpected happens like a flight delay or cancellation. Most airports in America will just make you put the products in a clear bag and you can even use a sandwich bag from home.
  • Third, I would buy small containers of shampoo and conditioner, body wash, etc. to last for about a week. If you buy some of the major brands of hygiene products, they are available in your host country or have similar alternatives so just buy them there. [If you have a certain kind of shampoo or body wash that is specific to your needs, then buy it here in the U.S. before]
Tip #5
Roll Your Clothes!

  • This saves up so much space and you can pack a lot more in a suitcase using this method. There are also wonderful videos on how to pack effectively like this super simple eHow video:

“Real luxury is understanding quality, and having the time to enjoy it.”- G. Bruce Boyer

        Milan, Italy has a special place in my heart and in the world too! It is a fashion capital of the world, and the Milanese fashion industry has a signature all its own. Milan’s history of establishing high fashion as a possession of the upper classes provides a scope on Italian fashion. Italian fashion has become synonymous with high quality and elegance… thus, the signature of Italian fashion was born. Milan is not the leader in women's fashion, but truly excels in men’s fashion. I was always more interested in the focus of men’s fashion in the industry, and Milan was the perfect city for me.

       One highlight that really stuck with me was Italian men are not so mindful with trends, but with an emphasis on the body. After speaking with other students I met abroad, we came to the conclusion that Italian men enjoyed dressing well and some of them did it flawlessly. Italian fashion is a beautiful combination of classic pieces with adventurous statement items, form-fitting pants for men, well-tailored suits and accessories to bring the outfit together. There is a ‘dress to impress’ attitude and the style of men throughout Milan was breathtaking.

      In contrast, American men’s fashion is based on comfort/being casual, can vary upon the region of the U.S., has loose fitting garments for men, and has simplistic accessory use or none at all. This is not all American men, but when I see a man dress up in a tailored suit or extremely well dressed… this gets my attention right away because it’s not as common. The trends in America can vary from region to region, but the basic, comfort styles for men revolve around the general t-shirt and jeans combination and workout attire with little or no accessories.

      Getting to see Italian men’s fashion first hand was absolutely incredible. I loved the simplistic and classical designs paired with vibrant colors and prints for statement pieces. The clothes were so beautifully tailored and I began to appreciate the true value of having your clothes tailored. The suits were a work of art, and the style that these men have is timeless and well done.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

" Dreams can still come true; you need a great deal of energy and determination, and a little bit of luck. " -Stefano Gabbana

So I have returned from studying abroad in Milan, Italy, and so much has changed over the past few months. The first week I was abroad, I wrote about Milan helping me find my place in the world… and it did that and so much more.  I know that every person that studies abroad gives you the speech about how it was a life changing experience and the rest, and I’m here to tell you that it’s basically the truest statement ever told. Going abroad by yourself to a country that does not speak your native language can be seen as borderline insane, but it truly is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I got the chance to live out one of my dreams, and I was determined to enjoy every moment of it. I had to make new friends and a life for myself in a new city, and it was everything I dreamed it would be.

Milan was a surprising city and I am endlessly in love with it. Before I left the States, I thought Milan would be the equivalent of New York City in Italy, and I was surprised that it was completely different from what I expected. It is classical architecture that meets new age city, and it is filled with hidden gems that can take your breath away. In all honesty, Milan isn’t a city that you fall in love with by just visiting for a few days, to feel the true charm of the city you have to live there. Milan exceeded all my expectations, except that I personally didn’t feel an overwhelming presence of it being a fashion capital of the world. Maybe I expected too much, and falsely pictured it to be as fashion forward as the media claims it to be. However, the fashion in Milan triumphs over the fashion in New Mexico and being able to walk to down the streets of Via Montenapoleone and Via Spiga to see Gucci, Versace, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana was absolutely amazing. Although I can’t afford anything from these stores, seeing the window displays and chic store set ups was an adventure in its self. Everything was artistically beautiful and each store has its own personality and vibe. The fashion districts are incredible and you can’t help but appreciate the Italian flare that makes each brand so interesting.

After I went to the fashion districts for the first time, I realized that I seen every garment, every purse, every pair of shoes, as a work of art. I’ve loved art my entire life and taken a fashion illustration class, so I couldn’t help but think how amazing it would be to have your sketches come to life, as a piece of art that someone wears to express themselves. It’s a beautiful concept, and in that moment, I realized that fashion is definitely something I want to pursue in some shape or form. I understand all of the dynamics of fashion design, and I just didn’t think it was the exact fit for me. But I didn’t want to rule it out until I found exactly what I want to do in the fashion industry. So my journey continued and finding my passion wouldn’t be as easy as I thought, but I was just happy to be taking steps in the right direction…

Monday, March 31, 2014

" Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. ” - CoCo Chanel

Fashion.  An international industry with so many different opportunities and pathways buried within it. I loved fashion and before I went to college, I had dreams of going into fashion because it seemed so glamorous, creative, and exciting. I lived for following the trends, keeping up with the latest designer collections, and reading various fashion magazines. It was my passion and Fashion Merchandising was my major, until I realized that only a small part of the skills needed to be successful in the fashion industry can be learned in a classroom. The rest of the skills I would have to learn, would be lessons from the real world through experience, location, and networking. I am from New Mexico where fashion is seen as a hobby, not a lifestyle, so it was becoming difficult to keep my passion alive. I understood that if I wanted to be a part of the fashion industry, I would have to leave New Mexico.

             This made me re-evaluate my dreams, and I recognized that they were so generic and misguided. I had created a false image of the fashion industry based on the media’s portrayal of it in TV shows, movies, magazines, etc. I had a sudden realization that I had no idea on how to enter the industry and no sense of what I wanted to do. I was completely lost. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to do fashion, but I had no plans, steps, or thoughts to make my dreams a reality. So I changed my major to International Business and Marketing, and started looking into ways that I could experience the world first hand. I have always wanted to live and study abroad in Italy, and Milan, being a fashion capital of the world, seemed like the perfect place to figure out my life.

 I wanted to discover my passion again, and when Milan Fashion Week (Feb. 18th - 23rd, 2014) came around, I was exposed to only a small fraction of what the industry has to offer by walking through the streets near the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. From the pink runway that made an ordinary sidewalk into a killer catwalk to the number of photographers throughout the plaza and streets, I loved every moment of it. It gave me a small perspective of some of the opportunities and pathways fashion has to offer, and that was incredible. I realized that I am just trying to find my place in the world, and maybe Milan can lead me to exactly where I need to be…

Saturday, February 8, 2014

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” - Lao-Tzu : Tao Te Ching

           It has taken a lot of hard work, time, and prayer to get to this one moment, and the first step was making my dream into a goal. When I first went to the Study Abroad Office at my university during Sophomore year, I was told that Italy was hard to get into and I should consider going somewhere else. I was pretty devastated by it, and then I read some articles and books about the law of attraction. One of the articles had 7 steps to use the law of attraction: Meditate, Be sure about what you want and when you do decide don't doubt yourself,  Ask the Universe for it, Write your wish down, Feel it, Show Gratitude, and Trust the Universe. I realized that if I believed that I would never get to study abroad in Italy, then that is what I would attract. So after following the steps and remaining positive throughout my whole experience, my dreams and goals are being fulfilled. After applying for universities in Italy and the Gilman Scholarship, working almost every shift at my job, getting accepted, and all the other things I had to do to get here, I can say I made it and give thanks to everyone and everything that helped me get to this moment. I am in Milan, Italy right now and words still can't express how grateful I am. So if you want to travel the world or you are going to study abroad, my advice is to stay positive, look into the law of attraction, don't accept defeat, and stay focused so the things that you truly want will come your way. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

" Adventure is Out There! " - Ellie : Up

My name is Javonne and I am a Junior at NMSU. I am from the small city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and my life story can basically be described as wonderfully ordinary. However, I have an extraordinary opportunity to study abroad in Milan, Italy, and I am grateful beyond words. I have realized that so many people would like to study abroad and travel, but they never get the chance to make it a reality. And this is the reason why I want to write this blog. I want to have these people see the world with me, even if it’s from their bedroom on their phone or computer. So if you have always wanted to travel or are a future study abroad student, I want to share my adventure with you and invite you to explore the world with me!  I hope that my journey will inspire you to pursue your own adventure.