So what cool stories do you have from your semester in Italy?
One of my favorite things that I did was my Italian cinema class, which involved watching two movies a week, covering directors such as Fellini, Rossellini, all these huge names.
Our final project, though, was to make our own videos, edit them and come up with a concept about Rome. We decided to do ours at a local Italian pastry shop and coffee bar. The place was called Café Barberini. It was the friendliest place. They let us into the kitchen area, where Ameliano, the pastry chef, made the pastries. There were trays and trays of pastries: cornettos, croissants, danishes, eclairs, all these little tarts, doughnuts. We got to know the chef as a person – he had worked in a pizzeria for a while, but then decided to go into pastry. We got to compare the American mass-produced, commercialized style of coffee shops with this Italian, homemade, small-quantity style. We were surrounded by friendly, family-oriented people, and [making] the video taught us that it’s all about the community.
Any particularly exciting nights out on the town?
I went to Vogue’s fashion night out because I interned in Rome for this personal shopper and she always had us going to these events that she couldn’t go to. It was a public event, but it was still awesome. We also went to the Fendi event, and we got to see all the models walking around in their furs. All of the designers and Rome’s “it” people were there. That was the only night I wore heels in Rome, because of the cobblestones.
What was the food scene like?
We had a lot of delicious meals where you’d sit at the restaurant for three hours with friends. They don’t even bring the check to you until you ask for it, and then you wait an hour until they actually let you pay. They want you to socialize, enjoy the food and the wine. I don’t even know how Italians get anything done, but it was an amazing experience and definitely a place I’d want to go back to. I felt like a local walking in the city and running along the river. I had a lot of fun exploring.
Tell me about your involvement with music.
Orchestra is one of my favorite things. A lot of people are annoyed by rehearsals, but I just love the Romantic symphonies and overtures and even some modern works, and playing with soloists. In high school I was a soloist for two years. It gave me the chance to play a solo concerto with a full orchestra, which you could never do now unless you are a professional musician.
What kind of classical music do you like?
I love Romantic chamber music. The community of a small chamber group is great because you’re playing soloistically, but you’re also in a group. So each instrument has its own solo parts, but it’s a very cohesive and sort of sixth-sense relation. It’s very collaborative. When you have an awesome chamber performance, it’s the best feeling in the world.
On another note, I heard that you had an internship at Anthropologie making displays last summer. I love shopping there.
They’re owned by the same company that owns Urban Outfitters and Free People, and Anthropologie always has the best displays out of the three. There’s an art room in every Anthropologie store, and everything that’s on display in the store is [conceptualized], put together, created and worked up in the art room. They have a company website, and there are people who travel and come up with themes and colors for the season. Ours was patterns, which is a very broad theme. They do sample displays and post them online, and then they let each display manager at each store interpret it in their own way. I was the intern and my boss left after the first week, so I was on my own for two weeks.
How was that?
It ended up being a lot of manual labor, like cutting cardboard, gluing things together and basically installing this design in the window. I would go outside the store to look at it and see what needed to be changed. It was a very involved process. There were also displays inside the store. I was building birdhouses, watering plants, creating display tables and creating signs that said stuff like, “Say goodbye to monochrome!” It was a very vintage, nostalgic feel, which was super fun to create. The store environment is also really amazing – very colorful and happy.
It sounds like a great experience.
Yeah, it was really good working experience, doing collaborative work on a team. It also teaches you to put on a good face and be polite. I was on a ladder once doing maintenance stuff, and an old woman came up to me and shook my ladder. She was just trying to get my attention, but it really freaked me out. She had a bowl in her hand, and she was like, “Excuse me, can you tell me the price on this? I can’t read it.” I was basically holding the display up and I had to look at it and tell her what it was. She walked away and I just breathed a sigh of relief.
Tell me about your blog.
[Laughs] Oh my gosh. Yeah, so I have a fashion, art and dessert blog, and it’s called Eclectic Eclairs, really embarrassing – a nice little pun on my name. A lot of my friends read it. I’m Serbian, so we have this special family saint day. Every Serbian family has one; it’s when their ancestors first got baptized and it usually falls on the day of a certain saint. So ours is St. Nicholas, on December 19, so Baba (my grandma) and I made this bread called kolach that’s very intricately decorated, so I took pictures while we did that and posted them. I’ll take pictures of outfits every once in a while. It’s a fun way to have a creative outlet when I don’t have a lot of time, or when I’m not in a studio art class.
What was it like growing up with Serbian culture?
I didn’t really embrace it as much until high school. I was fluent in English and Serbian until I was about five, but then we moved away from my grandparents. My dad mostly spoke English to me because he was interested in embracing American culture. [Serbia] was Yugoslavia when they left. It was a Communist country and they wanted to get out. My grandpa wanted his kids to be able to get an education in the U.S., and his dream has come true. All his grandchildren are either in college or applying to school.