Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Liberal Studies Student Co-Founds Travel/Fashion Magazine - Launching Tomorrow


serena.jpgSerena Guen is a student in the Liberal Studies Program set to graduate in 2014. And tomorrow (May 16, 2012), Serena will be launching SUITCASE, a quarterly fashion and travel magazine. The publication will feature international design talent, cuisine and travel hot spots.

Serena is a well-rounded, cultured student in the Global Liberal Studies Program who grew up in a family that emphasized travel. In fact, during a gap year before attending NYU, Serena explored Peru, New Zealand, Germany and France extensively. As the co-editor of an impressive, soon-to-be-released quarterly publication, Serena is certainly making her mark on the NYU community.

We had the chance to speak with Serena about her love for travel writing and how the idea for SUITCASE was born. Be sure to follow SUITCASE on the magazine's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+.  

What first spurred your interest in travel writing?

I would say that my interest in travel writing ‘grew slowly’ rather than being ‘spurred’ by something specific. I grew up in a very international family and loved the fact that holidays involved visiting relatives around the world. However, I only started to write about travelling during my gap year, where I wrote and illustrated (rather crudely due to my lack of artistic talent) two travel diaries, one of which was sadly stolen. I got a few chuckles out of the one that survived from New Zealand. However, I only really realized that people were interested in what I had to say after I was making the move from NYU Paris to NYU New York; I wrote a small travel guide for for my friends who were moving to Paris and sent it to them, who sent it to their friends and so on and so forth.  

Are there any magazines or books that you simply cannot live without?

Anything by Oscar Wilde or Evelyn Waugh.  

In all of your travels, what has been your single most unique experience while abroad?

Standing on the edge of a 4000m precipice, with no safety ropes, in the Colca Canyon watching condors. I fell in love with Peru; I never wanted to leave! My friends even joke about my Peruvian alter ego called Gloria Jimena.  

suitcase.jpgAs a high school student, what was most appealing to you about NYU?

I wanted the benefits of going to a university in a city and did not want to stay in London, therefore New York seemed the perfect candidate. I loved the fact that I could spend my freshman and junior years abroad. NYU just seemed to be more avant-garde than of all the other universities that I’d applied to.  

Can you talk a little about the circumstances under which SUITCASE was born?

I’d always dreamed about starting a travel magazine but it wasn’t until I bumped into the girlfriend of a friend of mine in a pharmacy in London that ‘Suitcase’ as it stands today was born. The girlfriend was called Charlotte Summers, she is the editor and co-founder, of Suitcase; she was actually developing the idea when I met her last summer and asked me if I wanted to get on board, which obviously I did. We registered Suitcase as a LLC in the UK in November of last year and things have been on the up ever since…  

Will SUITCASE focus its stories on certain regions, or is the magazine meant to be more broadly focused on diverse regions around the world?  

Suitcase will be divided originally into two parts: the website and the printed magazine. The website will be constantly updated with worldwide events and interesting articles, it will be supplementing the printed magazine, which will focus on 5-10 destinations anywhere in the world-it could be a city, it could be a seaside town, it could be anywhere really! We are not claiming to tell you everything about everywhere, just give you little snapshots of the place that make you view it in a different light. We are essentially doing the spring cleaning and leaving you with a few tidy little gems.  

Did you experience any difficulties in creating SUITCASE, such as language barriers or funding?

There were no difficulties as such-just daily challenges. If I were able to clone myself there would not have been any, that is to say one of the main problems that we faced was simply not having enough hours in the day to do everything that we wanted to! Sadly, funding has definitely been a major challenge but we are doing everything we can to get around this.  

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How can alumni obtain a copy of SUITCASE?  

Suitcase is going to be sold in shops in Australia, America, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. In the US-Barnes & Noble and NYU Bookshop, UK at the till at W H Smith’s, Harrods and Selfridges and select Virgin Club Lounges.

Can you recall any lessons or experiences thus far in the Liberal Studies Program that have helped to prepare you for your future career?

All of them! Global Liberal Studies is the perfect foundation for a magazine about global fashion/travel i.e. Global culture. My senior thesis, which will be questioning the ontological status of the new, is actually linked to my magazine as an attempt to do something new.

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