Maddie Fiorante is a member of the Equestrian team. She is currently studying Public Relations through Grady College.
One of the best parts of my college experience so far has been my study abroad this summer. I had the opportunity to live in the French Riviera for three weeks and attend the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Along with 59 other female students, this trip really embodied the festival’s theme, “Year of the Lioness.” As a Public Relations student, I took two Grady classes that were extremely helpful in learning more about the industry. Also, this trip allowed me to meet and network with people and companies from all over the world. It really opened my eyes to potential career goals I had never considered before.
The first week in France included morning classes, leaving the afternoons open to hang out on the beach or travel along the Riviera to other coastal towns, such as Nice, Monaco, Antibes, and more! My favorite excursion was going to Eze, only a few train stops between where we stayed and Monaco. Getting off the train, you stare down a huge mountain a little rocky path that snakes all the way up it. As an Oregonian, I am pretty used to mountains and difficult hikes, but this was daunting. We hiked up 6,000 feet (I have never sweat so much in my life) until we reached the most beautiful cobblestone village filled with fresh lavender and incredible scenic views. While we were up there, we went into the exotic garden located at the top of the village. We could see the street we started on, looking miniscule, and the sea that stretched on forever. The garden was stunning, complete with Mediterranean plants and gorgeous artwork by Jean-Phillippe Richard who specializes in female statuary.
The second week of my study abroad was what we were all there for: The Cannes Lions Festival. There are no words for how incredible this experience was. The beach was broken up by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Pinterest, Google, and others that seemed to be in competition for the most aesthetic set-up. During the festival, I attended different speakers from amazing companies like Patagonia, Google, Wieden + Kennedy, Vogue, and more to further understand the creative advertising industry as well as branding. I also got to hear from celebrities such as Ellen Pompeo, Shaquille O’Neal, Conan O’Brien, and even Olympic athletes like Abby Wombach and Adam Rippon! Of course, there was also time for fun in between beach networking and yacht events!
For my third and final week in France, my incredible new friends and I spent a lot of time working on finalizing class projects for the campaigns we learned about. My favorite campaign was an Adidas campaign that partnered with the train system in Berlin to make a shoe that also doubled as a ticket! We also traveled to a few other fun places, even to one little town in Ventimiglia, Italy, and hung out on the beach as soon as class projects were over.
This trip was life-changing to my personal and career goals. I am still in awe after being so inspired by so many professionals, different job titles, and the incredible work that won Lions. I hope more than ANYTHING to have the opportunity to go back again one day as a part of a company up for a Lions award!