Giovanna Trabasso—preferably Gigi—is a nineteen-year-old woman from São Paulo, Brazil. She currently attends NYU Steinhardt, where she majors in Media, Culture, and Communications. Despite her young age and novelty to the country, though, Gigi has already accomplished quite a bit for herself. She is a writer for the teen magazine “Affinity Mag” and also for “The Kraze Magazine.” She is apart of Washington Square News’ Social Media Team, and she is also the Executive Producer and Host of her own podcast, “Talking Series-ly.” She even has two more podcasts on Radio K-Pop Brazil, one dedicated to underground Korean artists and the other dedicated to the group BTS. Completing her love of Korean music, she even started and still runs bangtan.com.br. Lastly, she is a social media intern for a newly opened Brazilian store, and she starts next semester as an Orientation Leader at NYU.
As anyone can see from her long list of attainments, Gigi is a stunning example of what teenagers can and will do to make themselves and other people happy—and she is a model for the teenage dreamers out in the world, who all want to accomplish their dreams and desperately need that push to actually fulfill them.
After meeting Gigi in the Affinity Productivity Group, I was inspired by her will and determination to actualize her dreams, and I quickly sought her out for an interview. I saw—and see—her as a lesson for the many talented adolescents around the world, who all have big dreams but small hopes of accomplishing them. Thankfully for us, Gigi agreed.
Why did you move from Brazil to America—specifically New York?
“I studied in an American school since I was eight. As I grew up, it just always seemed like a given to me that I wouldn’t be staying in Brazil. However, I realized that many of my friends were torn regarding this decision, so I began to evaluate my options. For a while, I did consider staying in Brazil, but after going on an exchange program in 2014 to a boarding school in East Hampton, it became clear to me that I didn’t want to stay in Brazil. That was also when I fell in love with NYC and NYU. Since then, I knew this was the place I wanted to be in.”
Do you have any friends or family members who moved here with you? If not, what is it like to practically enter a brand new world all by yourself?
“No, I came here by myself. I do have a childhood and family friend that is also at NYU, but we only see each other occasionally. It is definitely scary, but surprisingly not hard at all. I’m an introvert and extremely shy around new people, so I was afraid that I would lock myself up in my own head and not even try. But I’ve always known that I’m great through text and on social media, so I used that to my advantage. I joined group chats, e-mailed my roommate, and reached out to anyone I could before coming here, so that I could have a few familiar faces once I arrived. In the end, I wasn’t at all by myself. It really is important to recognize the areas that you are lacking, socially, but to explore the ones in which you’re good. Since I knew I wouldn’t be the one starting small talk during Welcome Week, I did that online during the months prior.”
What is the biggest difference between Brazil and New York? Anything you most love/hate about the big city?
“This is a really hard question. Every place is different from the next. I was born in São Paulo and moved to Salvador when I was six—and even while still in Brazil, those two cities couldn’t possibly be any more different. The biggest difference, however, to me personally, is the variety and availability of things to do in New York that I could never find in Salvador. If I had grown up in São Paulo, maybe my answer would’ve been different, but moving to New York made me realize that I was wrong in thinking that I liked staying at home all weekend. I don’t like that at all, but I didn’t like what Salvador had to offer me. New York, however, has endless options of things that I like to see and do, and that’s what I love the most about this city. I know I’m being very vague about this question, but that’s because of the variety and ways you can entertain yourself in NYC. If I was to list them—or at least some—I wouldn’t be able to stop.”
You attend NYU Steinhardt, correct? How did that whole acceptance process go, as well as the adapting process?
“I wasn’t going to apply to NYU. After countless college fairs and research, I was convinced that my GPA didn’t meet theirs and that I was definitely an average candidate for NYU. My mind was set and I was already interested and happy with other colleges. Luckily, my mom made me change my mind. She sat down with me to talk about which colleges I was applying to and questioned me about NYU. I explained that I had no chance, and she just laughed at me and told me that I had to apply. I refused, claiming that even if I was to get in, it was too expensive and I wouldn’t let my parents spend that much money on me. This made her truly angry. She said I had no business in how much or how they’d spend their money on me, and forced me to apply. And so I did, Early Decision II. If I got in, I had to go. But, again, I was sure I wasn’t. I already had my acceptance for Northeastern’s honors program and was ready to pack for Boston. And then February 15 came and I got in. Until I walked into my first class, I was still waiting for them to tell me that my acceptance was a mistake, and I low-key still am. It was an agonizing ride waiting for the acceptance, but it was even more tormenting waiting for my move-in day. After I was here, sitting in class, time flew by, and I can’t believe I’m almost done with my freshman year.”
Do you have any advice for those who want to move to New York for college? Any college advice in general?
“The greatest advice I can give is to not glorify NYC in your college essays. Any college here knows that being in the city is a huge advantage for their students. If their essay, if they have one, asks why you want to go there, don’t use NYC as your main reason or as a reason at all. Now, this goes for all colleges. Do a lot of research on the major and school you want to apply to. Get to know the department, notable alumni, what classes you will have to or can take. Write an essay that shows them that you know what you are applying to and also let them know that you are not there to just know those people or take those classes. Tell them how those will add to the student and person that you already are. Comment on how that major aligns with your extracurriculars. Really boost their ego.”
You mentioned to me that you were in the International Baccalaureate Program. As a current IB student, I have my own personal qualms with the intensity of the program. Do you believe, in the end, that it was all worth it? Do you feel like it’s necessary?
“I now love the IB for the same reason I hated it back in High School. IB kids usually claim that all the IB does is assign busywork. Honestly, that’s not entirely a lie, but so will college. You will have to complete readings that your professors will never mention in class and then it’ll show up on the midterm. You will have to write meta-text essays reflection on everything you just turned in. You will be evaluated for the way you talk and present. That will happen in college and so did it in the IB. It is not the easiest advanced program to give college credit, but it did wonders preparing me for the amount of work I’d be doing at NYU. I see my friends, both from my major and from other schools, struggling and complaining about all that they have to do, and I all I can say to them is, “Dude, you don’t even know what an IA or EE are, so chill, you can read 50 pages a night.” I regretted taking the IB while I was actually taking it, but not anymore.”
You’re majoring in Media, Culture, and Communications. What does this mean, specifically? What career do you plan on having with this major?
“I don’t think I should answer this question, because a MCC graduate can work anywhere they wish—from marketing, to PR, HR, social media management, editing, publishing, the possibilities are endless. And this is why I chose this major, because of how broad it is. MCC, to its core, is a media-centered major. The three core classes are Intro to Media, Media and Cultural Analysis, and History of Media and Communication. In a nutshell, it means that we analyze and deconstruct media throughout history as a means of communication. As a freshman that has yet to chose her two fields of study, I feel like this is all I can say right now. If you are someone that wants to go to NYU and is stuck between majoring in journalism, public relations, and communications, MCC might be the major for you, so do read up on it. I am deeply in love with my major and department; it’s been an incredible experience so far.”
I listened to an episode of Talking Series-ly, and I really enjoyed it! What made you start this podcast?
“Thank you! We have so much fun making it, so we are always super excited when others tell us that they enjoyed it. When I got to NYU, I already had experience with podcasts and web-radio shows. During Welcome Week’s Club Fest, I stumbled upon the WNYU stand, and I just thought everyone and everything looked so cool. So I signed up for their email list and grabbed a flier. Little did I know, I was living at the dorm in which WNYU is located! I took that to my advantage and dropped by at the station a few times before going to their open house. After that, I was sure I wanted to join the grid. I applied for everything one could possibly apply to. For that, I had to come up with an idea for a podcast. I was super stuck and had no idea what to do. I was nearly giving up when I released that TV shows have always been a huge part of my down time, so I came up with Talking Series-ly. I was so excited when my show was first approved, but after talking to the news director, I got the news that I could only send a demo for final approval if I had other hosts with me. I freaked out because I didn’t know anyone that would be interested. This was during the first few weeks and my circle of friends was still tiny. So I once again resorted to group chats. I sent a message to the Brazilian chat and ended up with four amazing panelists! We’re not super structured when compared to the other WNYU podcasts, but we like our intimate and conversational set-up so much. We just have a lot of fun doing it so we really do appreciate the compliments!”
I noticed that you really like K-Pop. I’ve dabbed into it, once or twice, but I never really stuck with it. Do you have any K-Pop recommendations for me—and anyone else—who may want to get into the genre?
“Ah, K-Pop! K-Pop has been a huge part of my life for the past few years, and I owe a lot of what I have and the person I’ve become to K-Pop. My all-time favorite groups and solo acts are Block B, BTS, TOPP DOGG, TWICE, DEAN, Crush, and BLACKPINK. There’s also, of course, the solo activists from members of those groups, like Zico, Rap Monster, Park Kyung, and Agust D. There are many, many others that I love and also put out incredible music. I have distanced myself from K-Pop during the past couple of years and started to learn a bit more about underground artists and K-Hip Hop artists, or artists of Korean descent. Within those, I definitely recommend Dumbfoundead, Uglyduck, SIK-K, Giriboy, and all of AOMG and 1llionaire Records. Korea has so many incredible artists, it’s really hard to list out just a few recommendations.”
Do you have any last remarks for those who want to pursue and live their dreams, as you are doing now?
“I was never someone to really reach for the stars; I never had that mentality. Only recently did I realize that I am doing what I want and loving life. So, my best advice is to just pursue what you love. Opening myself up to K-Pop and not being embarrassed to openly tell others that I liked Korean artists took me to places I never thought I could go. Own up to who you are and just don’t give a damn about what others have to say. Your happiness is what should be the most important to you. But, if things go wrong, do have your moment of sadness. Crying is great, but don’t let that ever bring you down. It’s okay if you have to put yourself first—if that means you’ll be happy.”
It is as they say. Always shoot for the sun, because you’ll at least touch the stars.