International Connections

Zach Hamilton

Major: Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

Minor/option/emphasis: Public Relations

Year: Sophomore
Hometown, State: Bryant, IA

Type of experience: Faculty-Led Study Abroad
Experience: Exploring Craftsmanship in Western Europe
Experience website:
Destination: Germany

Overall experience..
The overall experience was eye-opening and a great chance to learn more about myself and the world around me. We got to visit Germany, Paris, Belgium, and Amsterdam to get to learn about how the culture differs from that here in the US and also see some of the origins of the craftsmanship practiced in apparel. There are so many experiences I got to have that not only were fun, but helped me learn how to make it in a big city as well as learn more about ways that I can fit into this lifestyle. Of course, I couldn't get enough of the beauty of every visit as well!

I learned...
I learned about it by chatting with Grit while I was taking a class with her. I had always wanted to end up in Paris someday, and she seemed like a person who was invested in me so I figured why not!

An impact to my life...
This trip helped to build confidence in myself that I can continue to set lofty goals that will help to bring me to my career goals. The experiences I had strengthened my vision for what my future could hold and encouraged me to stay sound in my ideals and continue to broaden my creativity. Every person we got to meet was passionate about what they did, and helped to spark that passion in myself for what I want to achieve in life as well.

My most valuable learning experience...
I learned so much from every experience, but one moment sticks out in particular. When we were in Paris, we got to meet with an ISU alumni who was living in Paris and working in fashion. She gave us the whole run down of her career and the ins and outs of how she went from small town Iowa to work for Kate Spade in New York. This was followed by a visit to a beautiful fashion house museum with her. It showed us the true grit of the industry we had signed up for, but also why we are all so in love with our major and the future careers in store for us: the beauty and passion of the fashion industry. Her rawness helped us to see that we actually can make it.

I will never forget...
There are so many memorable experiences from this trip, however I would have to say the most memorable is meeting with the designers in Germany. They were a small business, but it was easy to see the passion they have for what they do and their designs. The intricate design and odd ball style created a unique and beautiful collection, and they were so happy to watch us compliment their work. I remember him telling us that we have to truly love and believe in our designs for others to do so. It's something that will stick with me forever.

A surprising discovery...
I did not expect to figure out - and enjoy - public transportation so much. While navigating the trains in Paris wasn't easy at first, by the end of our time there I was able to get us from point a to point b in a foreign country with little knowledge of how to speak their language. This gave me the confidence to face many other challenging situations with the mindset that it can be deciphered and then utilized to my benefit. Plus it ended up being a lot of fun!

Advice for others...
Just go for it! No matter what experience you go on, it will change you!! Ensure that you are reflecting on the experiences and how they can make you a better person, and you will leave the experience with a fondness for the memories you made and a better outlook on your own life. Plus, it's truly a fun experience!

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