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Maya Mitchall Studies Fashion Photography in Italy

Maya Mitchall holds up the NC State Tuffy wolf hand symbol while seated in an Italian cafe.

Program and Location:

Spring, Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute; Florence, Italy


Major: Fashion and Textile ManagementBrand Management and Marketing; Minor: French

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I have always loved learning about new cultures growing up including their language, traditions, and food, so the opportunity to study abroad was an enticing one! Ever since I learned about study abroad freshman year, I knew I wanted to go and see the world since I had never been outside the country before. When the timing and location fell into place, I had to take the chance!

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned a lot about my capacity for independence, my capabilities in navigating a new place, and I learned how to adjust to any setbacks. I also believe that I became more confident as a result of this experience, and definitely feel more comfortable about traveling to new places. I think all of these things will help grow in my future and my career since fashion is truly a global industry!

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

I loved the opportunity to take interesting classes that were not offered in my program, specifically my Principles of Fashion Photography class. Photography was always a passion of mine especially when combined with my love of fashion, but finally being able to take a class and really improve my skills was wonderful! Also, taking pictures with Florence as a setting was a surreal experience as well.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

​​My study abroad experience helped prepare me for a future career in fashion since, as I touched on earlier, fashion is a global industry. I now know what the fashion industry is like in a different country, what it is like to work with people from other countries, and how fashion behavior changes depending on what country you’re in. All of these aspects are important when considering fashion marketing (which is what I want to pursue) for global brands!

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

I would say stay open-minded to new experiences and opportunities, and if you love to explore, take the leap! This is the time to say “yes” to everything and really soak up all life has to offer. Study abroad was such a unique and rewarding experience so I would take the leap and go for it. Trust me you won’t regret it!

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

In terms of being a person of color in Florence, it was interesting to see how few Black people there were in Italy outside of tourist season. This made it a bit difficult to get basic things like hair care products I needed because there weren’t stores for that demographic. However, aside from that, I was treated the same as everyone else so there were no other major differences to my experience.

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?

I would say despite the challenges you may face, you should 100% participate in study abroad! It’s definitely worth it and is an experience you won’t regret. I know a lot of people say that, but it is absolutely true! If you have concerns, I would reach out to previous study abroad students or do a little research on different places before picking one that feels right to you!

Would you do it again?

1000% yes! I loved studying abroad and if I had more time, I would love to explore another region of the world.

This story was originally published by the NC State Study Abroad Office.