They say studying abroad during college is your best memory in college or the one you regret not doing. Although I have zero dollars left in my bank account, I can say Cronkite Euro 2015 was one hundred percent worth it.
I traveled with my journalism school to Milan, Berlin and London for three weeks studying social media’s affects on the media industry in each country. We visited the world’s top newspapers, PR firms, television stations and events like World Expo 2015 in Milan. And because my professor knew that I want to work for a fashion magazine (Teen Vogue, please!) we visited Marie Claire Italia. It was a dream come true visiting the fashion capital of the world and others that have up and coming fashion scenes. I didn’t think I’d step foot in these capitals until I was working for a fashion magazine.
It was unbelievably difficult to balance a professional life and to enjoy the perks of traveling with friends new and old, but of course we crammed in some fun too. We did touristy things like visiting museums, taking boat and walking tours, shopping and of course eating more than our body weight combined. A group of my friends even called ourselves the #GelatoSquad because, well, Italy.
And for the part you all are probably most interested in, what did I buy in a sea of the world’s most fashionable cities?! I was a kid in a candy store to say the least. Going in to the trip, I knew I wanted Italian leather and something from the original TopShop store in London. I achieved both of those with an added bonus: some Birkenstocks in Berlin! I know, I know. The shoes your grandma loves aren’t exactly fashionable, but when you’re feet feel like they could fall off any second from walking 8 miles a day, you cave. Plus, they’re making a comeback in the fashion world and come in a super shiny metallic color!
During the three-week trip, we also did group stories in each city about a topic of our choosing, tweeted and instagrammed everyday and filmed live stand up videos. It was pretty easy to revolve most of my stories around fashion. My final post trip project will be three stories on each city’s fashion industry.
Because we did so much I thought it’d be easier (for you and me, still getting over jet lag!) to just list the highlights of what we did in each city. Here’s to being able to say I’ve actually left the country when people ask where I’ve been in the world, making connections in the global fashion industry and realizing just how similar and different cultures are around the world.
Milan, Italy: Fashion Capital of the World
- Duomo Cathedral, located in the city’s main shopping and entertainment center. Beware of “selfie stick” peddlers; they’ll shove them right in your face!
- Gelato shops are as ubiquitous as Starbucks in America. You’ll gain weight but just accept it because it’s way too good.
- Coffee and cappuccinos. Everywhere, all the time.
- Marie Claire Italia: My professor arranged an exclusive tour of the offices. We met a few of the staffers there and I even interviewed the magazine’s Senior Editor, Antonio Mancinelli! Story to come including what he thinks about American fashion.
- House wine: my friends (Gelato Squad) ate at a family owned restaurant where we had pasta accompanied by delicious and cheap house wine and even steak that was pink on the inside. I never eat pink meat but it was cooked to perfection.
- World Expo: We got press passes into the event, which featured food from around the world.
- Rai Television station: we watched a live taping of the news in Italian.
- Free day: My girlfriends and I took a day trip to Lake Como via a one-hour train ride from Milan. We originally wanted to go to Venice but it was a holiday and no tickets were available. But I highly recommend Lake Como. It’s less touristy, there are quaint little colorful houses perched against the lake, tons of shopping and great places to eat. We even rode in a little paddle boat.
Berlin, Germany: Alternative, Modern and Artsy
- First meal: Weist Wurst (sausage), Pommes, aka fries which are huge in almost all the cities I visited, pretzel and beer.
- Next to Germans, Turkish people are the second largest group in Germany, which means tons of Turkish food. I had a Turkish kebab twice, which is like a pita stuffed with lamb and veggies. Delish!
- Berlin Wall: A given. But did you know the East Side Gallery, which is the largest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall, has been transformed into an arts district similar to downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row? The wall is covered in artwork you might recognize from history class like the famous kissing picture.
- KaDeWe: Known as “The Department Store of the West,” the luxury stand-alone store is a symbol of freedom from communist rule. The first pair of jeans could be purchased here after the wall fell down. Fun fact, a local fashion insider told me that more tourists purchase items from the KaDeWe than locals. Berliners are conservative with money and tend to purchase more eco-friendly and value oriented clothing and items.
- Birkenstocks: the typically grandma-associated brand launched in Germany in 1774 and has become a worldwide brand for comfort and now for style. I’m proud to rock my German heritage on my feet!
- Tour of Deutche Welle TV, where we talked to an American journalist Brent Goff, who is a reporter at the station.
- Private tour of Reichstag, which is the German Parliament building, by the count of Germany himself! He also took us out for our first curry wurst experience.
London, England: AKA, My New Home, because British Accents
- Trooping the Colour: The Queen’s annual birthday parade. We met at 7 am to get a front row view. The Queen and Kate smiled at us!
- To Do/See: Buckingham Palace, the London Eye (at $21 pounds, it’s expensive but worth the view), Big Ben, Tower of London (often confused with London Bridge), and of course a red telephone booth photo
- St. Bride’s Church, the “Journalists’ Church” located on Fleet Street, which was once home to Britain’s first newspapers. My team did a story on the church, which celebrated journalists from around the world.
- TopShop Flagship store: Located on Oxford Street, which is London’s largest shopping street, opened in 1994. The brand launch in 1964 as a small brand for a department store but realized it was about to become something a little bigger.
- Tea: I didn’t the chance to have a sit down tea, but I was able to have one cup at a little teashop, similar to Teavana in the states.
- Piccadilly Circus: London’s Time Square.
- Leicester Square: the place to get half price Broadway tickets. I got my Wicked tickets for 39 pounds and it was an unbelievable first Broadway experience for me.
- Pimm’s Cup: the drink of Britain. It’s typically made with gin, ginger ale or lemon soda and finished off with cucumbers mint and fruit.
- Indian Food: Our tour guide told us that London is the second best place in the world to find any type of food. This was especially true of my first Indian food experience. I tried literally everything on the menu. My friends and I basically rolled out of Chor Bazarre.
And then as if three cities in three weeks wasn’t enough, I traveled to Paris with my friend Chloe (who I ‘ve mentioned before!) for a few days. And we did all the touristy things you’d think we’d do. We went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, ate crepes, ate pastries at a local bakery, went to Musée d’Orsay, saw Chanel’s flagship store, drank wine and munched on Madeleines at night by the Eiffel Tower, visited the Catacombs of Paris and last but not least, visited the legendary Ladurée!
I didn’t get to Tokyo like Hilary Duff, but I was pretty satisfied carrying my memories and macarons home with me on the plane.
I’ve been hitting the gym, swimming almost every day and doing a serious food detox, and I can tell I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. I also start a new job at Charming Charlie next week to start building up that bank account again!
Cheers until next week!