Small Town to Big Apple: the Pros and Cons of Attending the Fashion Institute of Technology

Some of my fellow MU-to-FIT transplants getting a good view of the city.
Some of my fellow MU-to-FIT transplants getting a good view of the city.

After going to school at Mercyhurst for the past three years, and now attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in the heart of Manhattan, it’s safe to say that I’m getting the best of both worlds when it comes to college. What I mean by that is that I had the chance to experience the quintessential college campus, as well as experiencing campus life in the Big Apple. Since these two campus styles are so different, it was a shock and big change for myself. Now that I’ve been in New York City for two months, here are some of the negative and positive things that come along with the one-of-a-kind experience that studying here offers.



Money, Money, and No Money

It’s no surprise to anyone that college is costly already, but attending school in NYC is even more expensive. Excluding the price of the school, it’s the little things that add up and make your parents call questioning where all your money went. From paying for laundry, the subway, meals, going out with friends, and tending to the typical shopping addiction of a fashion student, I’ve taken for granted how inexpensive living in Erie was. The college life I was used to is no longer an option in New York City. I soon realized that I would have to alter my typical spending habits, so I don’t have to cringe at my bank account statement anymore. My parents said it best: “Welcome to the real world Brooke.”

Adios to Your Space

One disadvantage to living in any city is the lack of space. Unlike Mercyhurst, where greenery is everywhere on campus, I now live in the concrete jungle. Literally. Besides Central, Bryant, and other parks in the city, seeing grass and breathing semi clean area is practically nonexistent when you live here. Furthermore, walking through the Gates, around Garvey Park, or past the Grotto, are no longer required when walking to class. Now our walk requires looking both ways, and crossing the street into the buildings that all connect and house all our classes. And if we happen to crave such scenic views we used to have, we have to go underground to the subway or sit in traffic in a cab to get there.

When you can take a minute to appreciate the greenery, it's worth it.
When you can take a minute to appreciate the greenery, it’s worth it.

Campus Feel…What Campus Feel?

From the Student Activities Council’s events, Hurst Day, Mass of the Holy Spirit, and the athletic teams, the campus feel at Mercyhurst is exciting. There’s always something to do and get involved with on campus. On the contrary, studying at a city school means less of that community feel. As opposed to the Laker Pride and Luke the Laker always prominent on campus, I didn’t even know we had a mascot at the Fashion Institute of Technology until two weeks in. I suppose that not having many sports teams and being a large commuter school results in the lack of community within the student body.



Budgeting is My Best Friend

As I mentioned previously, living in the city can be very pricey. However living in the city is a reality check that is essential to real “adult-ing.” Dining Dollars, Laker Loot and all-you-can-eat swipes at Egan (now The Grotto Commons) don’t exist in the real world. I now understand how important budgeting and being responsible with your money is. With that said, there is always something to do for cheap or free in the city, like visiting museums, seeing free tapings of TV shows, or strolling through central park. The options here are unlimited and that’s one thing that I love about living in the city.

Sometimes you gotta splurge on deserts that look this good.
Sometimes you gotta splurge on deserts that look this good.

The Views are Exceptional

Although living in the city means not much space and limited greenery, when you take the time to go see the scenery in New York City, you won’t regret it. The Hudson River Park, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, and Highline Park are just some of the amazing scenic areas in the city, and also my favorites! All you have to do is hop on the subway and your options are unlimited. Furthermore, not only are the views of the city landscape unmatchable, the views of the food are also amazing. From milkshakes to burgers, to waffle sundaes and acai bowls, food is a scenic attraction here. Only in NYC can you find these endless edible creations.

Opportunities Unlike Any Other

When attending a trade school like the Fashion Institute of Technology, the community feels and athletics may be lacking, but the career opportunities are abundant. Before the first week of school even started, I already was signed up to work New York Fashion Week, and had several interviews to intern in the fashion industry. My experience working Serena Williams’ show at New York Fashion Week was amazing! It’s safe to say I was star struck when I was feet away from Serena and Venus Williams, Ciara, Iris Apfel, Tommy Hilfiger and the one and only Anna Wintour. Now come on, that’s something that only can happen in New York City. Additionally, as an intern at Rent the Runway, I am learning so much about the company, the job, and most importantly where I see myself after graduation.

A quick glimpse of Anna Wintour herself.
A quick glimpse of Anna Wintour herself.


Although there are many things that I miss about Mercyhurst University and the small town campus atmosphere, I can’t help but be thankful that I am studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Yes, it was a big change for me, but the lessons I’m learning from living in the city and working in the fashion industry are irreplaceable.

Brooke Sommer, '17

Your typical college student studying fashion in the Big Apple. I’m a Pittsburgh native who believes that you should work hard….so you can shop harder.