Up at 7:30 a.m. to get dressed and ready for the day. Grab a water bottle and my black Ray Ban wayfarers and rush out the door. Take the elevator down 10 stories to the building’s lobby. Wave hello to the security guards and exit to the right towards 9th Avenue. The distance to the subway is short, walk east to 9th, (grab a bagel at the breakfast and coffee stand), swing a right on 33rd Street and vanish below the cement sidewalk just before 8th Avenue. Wait for the A train to arrive, hop on and take it up to Columbus Circle. There, take the escalator to the surface and walk South towards the Hearst building. Swipe ID at the gate, smile to the doorman and ascend to the main level via escalator over a cascading waterfall. Punch in your floor number and whoosh to the 25th floor. Scan ID to enter the offices of Harper’s BAZAAR.
Enter, Athens, Ohio. A small spec of a town in the southeast region of the state.
Where the sidewalks were old and made of brick, rising and falling with the hilly nature of the landscape… something I was not used to. There was no elevator, but decrepit stone steps instead. There was no security or doorman. There was no bagel stand waiting on the corner. And there definitely wasn’t the option of a subway. By the time I had reached my destination I was breathing quite heavily. Not used to the big hills and awkward walkways, I longed for the flat, concrete jungle I had left behind.
My first day at Ohio University was interesting. I marched across campus to my first class. Ray Bans? Check. I don’t remember what I wore that first day; but I do remember that it wasn’t the stereotypical college garb. I noted the immediate change in scenery and wardrobe. I was used to dressing to impress, no matter what the day, no matter what the weather. Not only coming from New York but also coming from a prestigious fashion school, the cut off sweat pants and shorts, flip flops and OU tees hit me like a slap in the face. I wasn’t ignorant to how most college students dressed, but actually walking through a sea of such outfits was a bit of a culture shock.
I’m sure I probably stuck out like a sore thumb. With my bright bleached blonde hair, eyes hidden behind sunglasses and the habit of avoiding any and all eye contact, I felt drastically out of place. (You just DON’T make eye contact in New York City.)
After having graduated from The Fashion Institute of Technology in May 2009 with a degree in Fashion Design, interning at Harper’s BAZAAR and living in the epicenter of the fashion world for the last two years, my view of Athens is radically different from most people’s. The transition itself was unnerving, having swore off ever returning to live in Ohio again, it was hard to accept the notion that the Scripps School of Journalism in ‘good old’ Athens, OH was my best option.
Although I’m originally from Columbus, OH, I have always been a ‘city girl’ at heart. Having visited New York multiple times with family and friends, I longed to live there permanently. I got the opportunity to do so after I applied and was accepted to the fashion design program at FIT. I was elated and ready to make the big move. The growing pains were minimal, and I felt like time was flying by me. I knew that I didn’t want to do four whole years of fashion design, so I decided to go for two years and get my associate degree. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to do journalism too, but the options of staying in the city were slim. I could have done a general communications and advertising Bachelors program at FIT, but it just didn’t have the name and history behind it like Scripps did. Whenever I mentioned Scripps to people and professionals in the city, they knew exactly what school I was talking about.
I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place. Did I really want to give up my citified lifestyle in exchange for “small town USA?” No. Did I want to leave the many friends and connections I had made and started while living in New York? No. But when it came down to the best education for me, I decided to attend Scripps and make the move to Athens, and boy am I glad I did.
I must say that after living here for about six months and surviving the initial transitional period, I’ve come to really enjoy this town and its inhabitants. Though small, Athens is a whimsical place that has shown me glimpses of metropolitan living and style every now and then. I love the scenery and history behind everything, and have met a wide array of interesting and motivated students. My classes have been enjoyable and enlightening and have more of the university feel that I had previously missed out on.
Even though some people resort to wearing hoodies and sweat pants every day, there is an interesting sense of style hiding among the North Face wearers. Whether it’s a stylish exchange student from Japan or a local ‘scene’ hipster grabbing a coffee from Donkey, fashion is here. The same trends I was seeing and wearing in New York found there way to this endearing town. And students from all over Ohio, America and the world have embraced them.
The local restaurants and coffee shops lining the streets of town fill me with memories of the city. Walking up and down Court Street I feel at home. Like a friend once said, “If I squint my eyes I can pretend I’m still in midtown Manhattan.” I’ve visited a lot of the local clothing and gift shops and was delighted to see fashionable clothes hanging on their racks. The small gems and treasures of Athens are making themselves visible to me, and have made my time here much more comfortable than I initially feared. The OU students are forward thinking and friendly and have welcomed me with open arms.
With this blog I hope to reflect on and impart some of my experiences with you. I will look at Athens through a New York eye and relay my findings and observations. Whether it’s fashion, food, coffee, music, culture or just friendly encounters, I will discuss whatever I stumble upon and maybe even find a few new fashionable things to share with you. After all, Athens is quite a unique place to live.