Where’d ya go, Anna Wade?!

Hi. It’s been a really long time since I wrote, posted, or even checked my site but I swear that there’s a reasonable explanation for this. See, the truth is that I’ve been going though a little bit of a quarter life crisis. You probably already know that I started my first year of college in the fall of 2015 at an American college in Florence, Italy, where I was studying fashion design.
During the first semester I had an amazing time, meeting new people and traveling to new places, but throughout all of it I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t feel challenged. When people would talk to me about what I had been doing so far, the most common question was: “Do you even go to college?”
The more I was asked this question the more I began to think about the program I was in and the school where I was. My fashion classes in the fall semester had been less than impressive to me because I already knew what was being taught. The fashion shows and events around the school left me feeling that the program wasn’t going to teach me the skills I would need. Ultimately, I felt like that I wasn’t being challenged enough. The stereotype of the fashion industry is that it’s fast-paced and intense, so feeling like I was on vacation was not what I thought would prepare me for the future.
I feel like at this point it’s important to understand why I chose the school in Italy in the first place. In my senior year of high school I had applied to about seven schools with design programs, and was accepted into six of those. However, as I received these acceptance letters the reality of paying for college in the US really hit me. Even with scholarships, most design schools were still $40,000 per year, about $60,000 total. So, I had to eliminate some really great US design schools from my list. I also visited in-state schools to understand what their programs offered, but was ultimately unimpressed. I believed (and still do believe) that part of being in a fashion design program was being in a place that lived and breathed the industry, and Bloomington, Indiana didn’t seem to be the place where I would be able to do that. Then, I got the acceptance letter for an American school with a campus in Italy. I was offered an extra grant that made this place affordable, and decided that I should do it. At that point, it felt like my only option. The assumption was that if the school had a great design program in the US then it would be very much the same in Italy. However, when I got there I realized that most of my classes were taken through a separate school where other study abroad students studied for a semester or a year.
All of these things kept nagging at me and telling me that I wasn’t in the right place. So, towards the end of the semester I started looking at other options, all still in Europe. I started looking at a school in Madrid, which led me to one in Barcelona, and the last option was one in Paris. As I prepared to go back to Florence for my second semester, I was constantly in contact with the representatives of these schools in order to understand their programs to make sure I wasn’t making the same mistake again. In the process of talking to these schools I was told that most of my credits wouldn’t transfer for the last semester or the coming semester. It was then that my parents and I began to discuss whether I should go back for the coming semester at all.
My first thoughts about this were dumb. I was worried mostly about what people would think. I was worried that people would assume that I had dropped out, or that I hadn’t done well in my classes (all A’s, y’all), but it also seemed like I was giving up something amazing. Most people assumed that I had won the college lottery. I also felt like I was disappointing my family. The expectation in my family has always been that I would go to college, and it felt weird for me to be without a plan for the first time in a long time.
BUT. Ultimately logic won over and we decided it was best for me to stay in Indy for the semester, working to earn money and figuring out where I would be going to school in the fall. But before I could be in Indy I had to tie up some loose ends in Italy. First of all, I had left more than half of my stuff in Italy. Second of all, I had to break up with my school. And last but not least, I felt like I had to see the schools I had been looking at online. So it was decided that I would go back to Italy, pack up my stuff, break up with my school, and then go visit the schools around Europe. I booked my flights and buses and was ready to go.
I went from Chicago to Florence, then from Florence to Barcelona. While in Barcelona I visited IED University to look at their three year BA program with connections with the University of Westminster. Next, I went to Paris to visit ESMOD, one of the top fashion schools in the world. While there, I submit a portfolio and visited their open day. Next I went to Munich for a couple of days because there was some time before my next visit, which was in Madrid. In Madrid I visited another IED campus that offered a different type of four year Spanish degree. While there, I was granted an interview at ESMOD. So, I went from Madrid to Paris for six hours to do my interview. It went really well and I was told I could expect a response within a week.
After my interview in Paris I hopped back on a plane to Florence to pick up my bags and say goodbye to some wonderful people. I spent some time being a tourist in Florence, which I never took the time to do when I lived there. The day after my interview I was on my way to get some pizza across the Arno when I thought to check my email. Right there in my inbox was an acceptance letter to ESMOD. I think I texted everyone I know right at that moment.
This has been a small essay, and I really do apologize for that, but I wanted the story to be out there. Things don’t always work out as planned. I had decided to study in Florence for four years and now I’ll be moving to Paris, but I do think that things have worked out for the best. In the interview, I was told that it wouldn’t be an easy school and that I was likely to be very stressed. This is exactly what I want. Obviously no one wishes for stress, but there’s nothing in this world that I would rather be stressed about than fashion.
SO. The ending to a long story. I’m currently on a plane from Rome to JFK, where I’ll connect to Chicago, where my momma will come pick me up. The plan for now is to take a gap semester and then head back to college in October, when the semester starts at ESMOD. I AM SO READY. And thanks for reading.

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