By: Rebecca Rios

“Congratulations, you have been accepted into the Study Abroad program at Instituto Internazionale Lorenzo de Medici for the Spring 2018 term.” The day that simple message popped up in my email was a day that will resonate with me forever. Winter break was a blur of packing, and obsessively using Duolingo to grasp a foreign, yet beautiful language, and it was so worth it.

I studied in, and explored the city of Florence, Italy for 4 months at the beginning of 2018. My classes were Fashion Photography, Fabric Design, and Fashion History. I’ve even had my designs featured in an art festival right in the heart of Florence, at San Lorenzo Square. My apartment was situated right across the street from the high-end fashion district of Florence, with Gucci as my eccentric neighbor.

Being the only student from Stevenson to study in Florence, I felt like I was taking a massive leap of faith into the lion’s den. I was worried I would be alone in a foreign country, but within the first few days, I was already making plans with my classmates to go to Milan Fashion Week.

Between classes, I traveled extensively. I was able to see the fashion powerhouses in Paris and London, but truly my heart belongs to Florence. I found the juxtaposition of modern Italian fashion and the 600-year-old streets where the likes of Michelangelo and Donatello roamed so inspiring that I put together an entire Fashion Photography portfolio.

The epicenter of the Renaissance was full of, art, fashion, and culture that transformed me into the designer I am today. If you have an interest in seeing the world and expanding your creative horizons, consider studying abroad. It has changed my life for the better, and I know it will do the same for you.