A New Avenue for Travel Abroad Students

Rebecca Pollard- Staff Writer 

Italy  was  recently  added  to the many countries available for SUNY Oneonta students to study abroad in. The university, named the Instituto Europeo di Design (IED), is located in Milan, Italy. Oneonta is partnered with the Knowledge Exchange Institute (KEI) to bring students this opportunity. The program is offered for either a summer or semester session and is open to students of all majors.

However, this study abroad program is ideal for fashion majors as the university is located in the “fashion capital” of Italy. Although the program is relatively new, Oneonta has already had a handful of students attend the university.

SUNY Oneonta student Claire Johnson studied at the IED during the Spring 2014 semester. Although she had already been accepted to other programs, upon learning about the IED in Milan, Johnson decided on a whim to apply to one more university. She decided to study abroad in Milan because as a fashion major, she realized the programs at the IED were much more relevant to her.

Johnson observed two major cultural differences while abroad: food and pace. “Food is worshipped [in Italy]. It is an integral part of Italian life. You don’t go to happy hour for the drinks; you go for the unlimited buffet. If I stopped at the cafe on my street for an espresso, the man behind the counter would tell me I had to eat something that morning, or I would get too skinny (its not like I’m going to say no to a chocolate croissant, honestly).”  In regards to pace, she says that everything from the mail service to grocery shopping trips is slower. The pace of everyday life isn’t as fast as it is in America. For example, if you are going to get coffee you don’t grab it and go, you order it, sit down and chat. She didn’t have any qualms with either of these differences.

Most importantly, her schooling was interesting and counted for credit. Johnson took classes such as Fashion Merchandising, Marketing, Art History, the History of Photography and Italian Language. Johnson liked that “the professors were industry professionals who have been brand managers, international marketing coordinators, creative directors and more.” She received credit for all of those classes as “Overseas Credit.” The IED sent her transcript to KEI, who then sent it to Oneonta. From there she had to get signatures from her advisors and department chairs who looked at her Degree Works and course syllabus before they signed off. Johnson also mentioned that “if you’re lucky, the school hands out invitations to shows during fashion week.”

The best part of the entire experience for Johnson was the amount of traveling she got to do. She had no classes on Thursdays or Fridays, so she took extended weekend trips with her friends. Some of the places she got to see were Sardinia, Switzerland, Cinque Terre and Rome.

Emma Trindel, who just got back from the IED this past July, also loved the traveling she was able to do while in Milan. The first trip she took was included in her payment for the summer program.

It was during an excursion to Florence that the director showed her and other students around the city, then they all got lunch and got to visit the Gucci Museum. Trindel was also able to travel without the school. She said it was relatively easy for her and friends to purchase train tickets to places like Lake Como, Genoa, Venice and Pisa on their extended weekends. (She never had classes on Fridays.)

Emma Trindel decided on the summer program to Milan when she realized she wanted to study abroad–specifically in Italy–and going during the summer worked best with her classes and schedule. She was there for about a month, from mid-June to mid-July. She said the application process, although long, was not strenuous. First you must be accepted through SUNY Oneonta by handing in a general application. Next, (once they accept you) Oneonta sends that application to the KEI. Once the KEI accepts you, you are then accepted by the IED.

As soon as she was officially accepted, Trindel booked her flights. Pre-departure orientation and a Skype session with KEI were both mandatory before her trip. The summer program works differently than the semester program. Trindel took one course that counted for six credits and had different classes within it. She took a new class, titled “Fashion Stylist.” Within that class she had modules such as Costume History and Photography. Each module had different professors who had all worked in the fashion industry at some point or were still a part of. Students attended morning session classes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and afternoon classes ran from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Trindel’s favorite place she went was Venice because it was so different. “It’s a city where the streets are all water, so there’s boats on the road instead of cars. Little places like alley-ways were dead-silent,” she said, even though the city had many tourists.  She described the city like a maze, confessing that she and her friends managed to get lost multiple times.

She recommends the summer program to everyone, but especially fashion majors because you are “thrown into one of the fashion capitals of the world. The entire city is fashion-oriented. All the stores are name brand and the people all have a good sense of style.”

Trindel now has office hours at the Office of International Education (located in Alumni Hall) to talk to students and help them on their way with studying in Milan, Italy. She is there from 2 to 3 p.m. on Mondays and 12 to 1 p.m. on Fridays. You can e-mail [email protected] or call (607) 436-3369 to set up a study abroad advising appointment. Happy travels!

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