Slowing Down and Specializing, A Semester in London
By Mary Giuffrida
On a beautiful sunny morning in London, Caroline Diaz enjoys a fresh baked croissant in Hyde Park, taking in the scenery before she goes on to the busy day of a Wilson College of Textiles student studying abroad.
Diaz is majoring in fashion and textile design (FTD) and spent last spring studying at the University of the Arts London. There, she took various courses including corsetry and creative visual communications.
For Diaz, time abroad meant more than just continuing her education in a new place. It was a chance to take the time to absorb a new culture and hone in on specific skills — to learn in a new way.
“Getting the time to learn all the techniques, all that slow learning, is one of my favorite parts about the experience that I had there,” Diaz says.
She’s talking specifically about her corsetry class, where she spent the entire semester learning both the history and the technique behind the influential piece of clothing.
“It was concentrated on one type of garment that’s very historically significant,” Diaz explains. “Being able to work on that one specific product for the whole semester was refreshing.”
While her corsetry class challenged her to dive deeper into a particular garment, her creative visual communications class pushed her to explore the boundaries of her degree and expand on a topic she wasn’t familiar with.
“It was nice to add a little bit of the business and merchandising side to my repertoire and be able to integrate that into my degree,” Diaz says.
Diaz brought all she learned abroad back with her to the Wilson College for her senior year.
“Next semester I have my senior collection,” she explains. “So I’ll be taking back a lot of the skills I learned in London, especially from corsetry, which can be applied not only to corsets, but also so many other garments.”
It isn’t just the skills she learned in class that Diaz brought back this fall, but the cultures and mindsets she draws inspiration from as well.
“It’s been amazing, definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she says. “London is such an international city that you meet people from all over the place. It’s not specific to any one culture, which is cool because you see the international influences everywhere.”
It’s been amazing, definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity
The learning experiences didn’t stop in the classroom. Diaz also had the opportunity to visit Florence and Amsterdam, as well as 13 different museums, throughout her trip. As she explored these places she was able to see the real-world applications of the concepts she studied in class.
“I thought it was really interesting to observe the ways that the same brand will market to different people,” Diaz says. “The H&M store in Italy was so colorful, bold and bright, whereas the London location was full of neutrals. These brands are really catering to different markets.”
Looking back on her time abroad, Diaz encourages other students to travel to new places and discover themselves along the way.
“Take that opportunity because it’s a completely different semester than you will get at NC State,” she says. “I proved to myself that I can adapt to anywhere that I need to, and that’s what makes me feel so self-assured moving forward.”