Forty-three days from now, I will be getting on a plane from Manila to Milan, and then on a train from Milan to Florence, and then in a cab to what will be my city and home for the next year or two or three (depending on how things go). As much of a self-professed traveler as I am, I have never left home and lived on my own. I have had my share of obligatory familial summertime sojourns–an almost annual ritual of ‘family bonding’–but I’ve always felt that I might have missed out on the whole study abroad experience back in college, when I chose to stay and foster my organisations instead of jetting off and spending junior term in another country. I’ve played around with the idea for years, on and off after graduation and even as I was working a corporate job. Options developed and then fizzled, never really working out in some way or other. I explored opportunities in art schools and business schools, trying to look for an arrangement that would fit my needs. It wasn’t until I left the corporate world in 2013 that I found the space to figure out what to do next. In that corner of space and time, I did freelance design work, got my Social Media Marketing certification, and took a bag-making course or two. I realised a few things during this period of (let’s face it) unemployment:
- I wasn’t really satisfied with doing freelance graphic design/ visual merchandising/ whatnot. I didn’t like being the service-provider, bowing to the client’s will (not that that’s what graphic designers do; it’s just how I felt). I realised that I didn’t like working for someone else’s vision, because there were too many of my own that I felt more strongly about and wanted to pursue.
- I found that I loved making bags, albeit in my classes we only got to make cloth ones since the school didn’t have the resources for dealing with leather. I loved designing them in my head, planning their construction, and then stepping on the gas on those big industrial sewing machines until voilà*: bag.
- The education and training that I was looking for were not available in Manila. We have bag factories aplenty and resources here and there, but I was looking for something more and what we have here isn’t it.
- The money I spent for that certification should have just gone into buying a nice leather bag. The bag, at least, would have been worth the investment -_-
*it takes much more than just voilà, just to be clear. Ha.
I had never considered going to school for a more ‘hands-on’ skill before then, but when I finally realised that option, things moved pretty quickly. A truckload of requirements, a scholarship and a parental sign-off later, I suddenly find myself 43 days from departure, feeling ill-prepared and yet cautiously optimistic about all this. Sometimes I kick myself for not having thought of this plan earlier. I love Europe. I love Italy. I love art and I love leather. It seems almost overdue. So here’s to post-corporate career/life shifts, things working out, and to exploring my beloved Italy, Europe, and yonder.