Taking the initiative to step outside of your comfort zone and live somewhere so foreign is often considered one of the most rewarding decisions to make during your college career. Senior MAT student Carli Holbrook would definitely agree. Carli embarked on UK’s Partner program with Knowledge Exchange Institute (KEI) and spent the spring semester studying at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) 4,500 miles away from UK in the beautiful city of Milan, Italy.

Senior MAT student, Carli Holbrook, looks out over Genova, Italy during her participation in UK's semester-long program with IED

Senior MAT student, Carli Holbrook, looks out over Genova, Italy
during her participation in UK

UK’s IED program has the option for a semester or year-long enrollment in Fashion Design and Merchandising courses—all of which require no language prerequisite and are taught in English. Carli suggested that if anyone is interested in the IED program, they should look into all that Milan has to offer in order to assure they make the most out of their time there. “Look into all of the classes they offer and figure out which ones are best for what you are interested in. Even though it is a “design” school, they offer art classes, photography, graphic design and merchandising classes as well,” added Carli.

Carli had the opportunity to visit the Gucci headquarters during her stay in Italy.


One of Carli’s favorite parts during her time in Italy was being in classes with students from all over the world. “We were not only with students from Italy but people from Colombia, Brazil, Germany and many other places making it so amazing to see the different cultures and make friends from all different backgrounds,” said Carli. Moving and adjusting to the Italian culture was easier for Carli with other students who had just moved there and were also working on getting to know the area.

It’s often typical of students to return from their travels abroad with a rambling list of new experiences and cherished memories, which makes the chance to study abroad one that’s growing in popularity. As education abroad opportunities expand, the venture is becoming more possible and applicable for students of all backgrounds and academic disciplines. This particular education abroad program offers an affordable and inclusive program fee with predeparture advising and planning, as well as an onsite director from KEI for 24/7 support. Carli mentioned that the staff at IED were all very knowledgeable in the subjects they taught and that the faculty helped out in every way possible. “If we ever had any questions or wanted to meet outside of class, they were more than happy to do whatever they could. They also would take us out in the city to show us exhibits, special landmarks and other things that they thought we would be interested in, which allowed us to become more familiar with the culture and history,” added Carli.

Carli’s entire experience was one that changed her mind and overall outlook on the fashion industry. “It truly opens your eyes to how many different opportunities there are around the world,” Carli said, “Once you go out of your comfort zone and see how much the world has to offer, you realize that you can truly do anything and go anywhere in life.”

Author: Cara Croley
Contact: Cara Croley, cara.croley@uky.edu