Broaden Your Horizons

Taking a step out of your comfort zone is something that everyone needs to do, especially during a time like your college life. Not only the Joseph S Bruno abroad experience, but any study abroad is such a great way to do that. Getting uncomfortable and learning new things is one of the best ways to broaden your views and discover more about yourself.

Signing up for this semester abroad was something I never thought I would do and was very out of the ordinary for me. I am a very big homebody and enjoy staying where I am comfortable. Out of nowhere I decided that I wanted to spend my summer abroad, so I signed myself up without a second thought. I had two years between when I registered and when we left for Italy, and in those two years I was constantly asking myself why I did that. I did not know anyone going and I had never even been out of the country. I was stepping into totally new territory without really considering it, and especially in those few weeks leading up to our departure I was deeply regretting it.

Looking back now, I can’t thank myself enough for taking that step and going way out of my comfort zone. In just the first few weeks in Italy, I have made friends with people I never would have known if it wasn’t for this program, experienced things I had only dreamed I would get to do, and learned more about myself than I thought was possible.  Given the chance, I would sign up again in a heartbeat. This semester abroad will forever be a reminder that taking the risk can be worth it in the end.

Catie Jowers

Our weekend trip to Venice- my new favorite place on Earth! I have loved getting to know these girls during our program!


According to Merriam-Webster, homesickness is a feeling of longing caused by separation from people and places that you know. To be honest, as I was leaving home to study abroad, I was expecting to feel homesick often while in Italy. However, Ariccia has quickly become a place I can home.

The second the bus arrived to the Chigi Palace from the airport, I could feel the love being poured into the JSB students from the people of Ariccia. From Cinzia and Roberta welcoming us with open arms, to Paolo’s smiling face at Antico’s coffee shop, to Francesco’s delicious cake he baked to show his gratitude to the JSB students. Each experience with the people of Ariccia has made it extremely easy to call the Chigi Palace home.

Throughout my time studying abroad, I’ve been on trips away from Ariccia on the weekends. These trips have been an amazing way to discover more of Italy and create everlasting memories with my friends on this program with me. Despite these enjoyable days away from schoolwork, I have found myself missing home, but not my home in Auburn, Alabama. On the nights away from newfound home in Ariccia Italy, I become ‘palacesick’ rather than homesick. While I do miss my family and friends in America, I truly feel a sense of comfort and love here in Ariccia.

The Joseph S. Bruno Abroad in Italy has taught me more than any class ever could. Through the wonderful people I have met through this program and the unforgettable experiences I have had, I’ve learned more than I could’ve imagined. The simple and loving Italian way of life has taught me to be more appreciative and to make each person I encounter feel at ‘home.’

KiKi, Caroline, Catie, and I enjoying the Monday morning market in Ariccia (our new home)!

Sara Manning Miller


Traveling has always been a big part of my life and an intense passion of mine. I have always known that I wanted to study abroad while in college. However, I did not have a plan or direction for where I wanted to go. When I first toured Auburn University during my senior year of high school, I spoke with a mentor and friend in the College of Human Sciences, Celesta Henry, who helped guide me in my decision-making process to Auburn University and to the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program. This has ended up being the best decision that I have ever made. I was on the waitlist for the program for five months, the longest five months of my life. I received the best email possible about a month and a half before I was to depart from America. Everything moved quickly but since the moment I drove into Ariccia after the long redeye flight, I have been nothing but overjoyed. Ariccia has welcomed me with open arms. I write this in awe of what Ariccia has already given me. It has shown me love and strength. This town is like no other. 

I moved to Auburn from Maryland so I was no stranger to moving to an area that is outside of my comfort zone. The biggest thing that I wanted to accomplish during this summer term was to improve myself. There was one word that kept popping up in the back of my mind-Adaptability. I strive to be an adaptable person every day, but I really wanted to focus on this while abroad. I set a goal for myself to participate in every activity, try new things, and never say no. This mindset has led to my happiness in this program. I have already gotten to travel throughout Europe, tried new Italian foods that I normally would never touch, and met new people with so many amazing stories.

My favorite part of this entire experience is speaking with people and hearing their stories. The family from Ireland who walked around The Academia Gallery with me in Florence, the family that owned the Murano glass shop in Venice, and the sweet couple from the Netherlands behind me in line to see the Duomo in Florence, have all helped shape my study abroad experience. I have developed friendships with people who come from different backgrounds from myself because I believe that our commonalities far outweigh our differences. There is always more to learn about different cultures and their perspectives. Studying abroad has opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities. 

The people in Ariccia: Cinzia, Roberta, Lydia, Francesco, Maurizio, Paolo and Barbara, and so many incredible classmates are the reason why I call Ariccia home. They are my people. My home away from home. Ariccia is not just a random little town in the middle of Italy. Ariccia is a welcoming home to anyone looking for an amazing experience and a new perspective on life. I am so grateful to Ariccia, and I will continue to value my time in this wonderful town every day.

Abigail Kramer

This picture is very close to my heart because it is the first picture I took in Ariccia. I still remember the feeling of stepping off of the bus and seeing this view.

Stop and Smell the Wildflowers

Life abroad truly is a culture shock. It has been different from all previous expectations, but I couldn’t be more thankful that this is the case. My view of traveling has always been to go as many places as I can in order to see as much as possible. Although I have already seen so much in my few weeks here, I have a totally different view of what traveling truly means. Traveling is being, not just doing. It is experiencing, not just seeing. It is enjoying, not just posting.

Last week we went on a field trip to “Lago Di Giulianello”, where we walked through the beautiful paths along the lake on a journey to learn about all of the native herbs and plants. Our guide, Lseno, took his time to show us every plant, teach us about their importance, explain the many dishes they are used in throughout Italian culture, and even let us try most of them right out of the ground!

We ended the hike with a long, slow picnic lunch atop the hill overlooking the stunning lake and Italian countryside. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and everyone was enjoying each other’s company. Adjusting to the culture here looked different than I expected due to the newness of it all. Everything was immediately so exciting and yet so different, and I felt as though this field trip was the first moment I had taken to truly slow down. I was able to enjoy where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing. Italians live every day like this, and I am so thankful I got to completely take part in such an important part of their culture. Not to mention, the food was incredible, and the whole day was such a sweet experience to share with everyone.

I’m looking forward to more random adventures that will continue to challenge me to better understand and partake in the Italian culture!

Sarabeth Elkins

Sara Manning, Kiki, Hailey, Caroline, and me on our hike!

Climbing Capri

This weekend my friends and I took our first weekend trip to Capri, Italy! It was our first time traveling further than Rome and luckly everything went smoothly. We took two different trains and one ferry to get to the island of Capri by noon. It was an early morning and it had me very stressed with all the different rides we had to catch. We woke up at 5am to walking 20 minutes to our train, hop on our next train in Rome, find a taxi to our ferry, and then finally arrive to the island. Absolutely worth it. 

None of us had ever been to Capri and we were not too sure what to expect. But when we stepped off the ferry everybody was shocked, it was incredibly beautiful. The water, the hills, the buildings. It was unreal. On our walk to our Airbnb we discovered how steep Capri was, it was a workout. We climbed so many steps carrying our bags and the sun had – of course – decided to come out for the first time in weeks. We were all out of breath, sweating, and in pain from carrying our bags, especially me since I overpack a ton. After finally making it we immediately went to grab lunch near by with a great view of the water. We could not believe where we were. That night we had a nice dinner with another amazing view. Later that night we met some sweet people who were all from Capri and Naples, they helped us a lot with our Italian and told us some great spots on the island. 

The next day we had another hike up and down the steps for the beach and some shopping. It was a rainy the rest of the day but still so fun, we all made dinner at the house together and just played some games and laughed all night. Next morning, another hike to catch a boat ride. Right after, another hike to grab lunch. When it was time to leave we had had one last hike that was downhill, but with our bags again. 

Honestly, every step was worth it. We had an amazing trip and we did so many cool things and saw the most beautiful sights. I loved every second spent there. The food, the view, the people, the activities, it was all perfect. I can not wait for my experiences like this and I am really glad I get to do it with these people!

Sophia Ventura

Me, Paris, and Catie in Capri!


Do you ever feel yourself planning for a memory while you are in the middle of living one? This is a habit I fall into every day. On the plane ride to Rome, I was texting my parent’s plans for my senior year at Auburn that I wished to accomplish when I get back. My dad’s response was, “You are on the way to Italy for the summer, why are you thinking about this?” I thought to myself, partly because I think I get that aspect from my mom who has always taught me to plan in advance. In a deeper sense, I think I plan to make myself feel in control of my future. If I am two steps ahead, I know what to expect. This gives me comfort in a country where I can’t speak the language and am unfamiliar with the culture. 

I arrived in Ariccia with no plans, and no sense of what was to come. This caused major stress. Within the first week, I had almost all my weekends planned with the reality of the influx of travelers that come with summer holiday. I spent nights coordinating with my friends, trying to hit everyone’s dream destination within the 12 weekends we will spend in Europe. 

With all these plans now set in stone, I hope to stop myself from thinking about the future, and live in the moment. In Greek philosophy, they use the word Epicureanism to describe this concept, it translates to “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die”. With our class days filled with cooking classes, cappuccino workshops, and wine tastings, I know it will not be difficult to keep mindfulness. Although sometimes I know my planning may distract from the moment, I think it is also my greatest strength and transforms our plans into reality. During my time here, one of my goals is to stop planning and let plans happen to me. Some of the best memories come in the spur of the moment when we aren’t expecting it. We are so often caught up in what happens next, and forget to think how fortunate we are to live this life in Italy.

Sarah Clay

Our first weekend trip to Malta with six of the girls.

Nerves to Reality

Ciao! My name is Kendall Coupland, but everyone calls me Kiki. I am from Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Auburn in 2020 for college. As scary as it was to move across the country not knowing anyone or anything about it, I knew it was the right thing for me and my future. This is exactly how I felt about going abroad as well. Knowing that I had successfully moved across the country for college made me feel like abroad would be a similar obstacle. Plus, the thought of making lifelong connections and having once in a lifetime travel experiences with these girls is something I know will benefit me in the long run. Let alone being able to experience and learn a new culture is such a blessing.

Within my first two weeks being in Ariccia, I can honestly say that my emotions were on a rollercoaster. I would be lying if I said that leaving my daily routine and life back in Auburn wasn’t hard. Homesickness and the lack of familiarity was difficult, but it got better. The more I got to know the girls that are here with me, the more comfortable that I got. All it takes to make yourself feel at home is the people around you. After all, I consider both Auburn and Arizona my home all because of the people that are there with me. Then of course the more I explored the towns of Ariccia and Albano helped too, as it made me feel more familiar with what is around me.

Overall I know that the JSB abroad program will teach me amazing things inside and outside of the classroom. I am so beyond thankful to have gotten the chance of going on this journey and am even more thankful for the people who I am doing it with. If I had one thing to say to anyone who was deciding to study abroad, I would tell them to do it! Take the leap of faith even if you are nervous, because trust me it will be so rewarding in the end.

Kiki Coupland

Hailey Benting, Abigail Kramer, Catie Jowers, Sara Manning Miller, and Caroline Lambert at the Parco Savelllo.

Expectations Abroad

Never in my life did I imagine I would be living in a foreign country for twelve weeks. I’m a girl who loves comfort and structure. I always need my ducks in a row and rarely enjoy navigating new situations. This comfortable life I’ve lived, although simple, has lacked the adventure and growth needed to become my best self, which led me to the Joseph S. Bruno program. I joined this program because I knew it was out of my comfort zone. I signed up with no one I knew, several months in advance, and with very little thought. I’m not sure what led me to this program, given that it’s the longest program Auburn offers, but I’m so glad I found myself here. I’m going into my third week and have already learned so much. I’d love to share some expectations that are worth having before you jet set to your new home abroad.

First off, keep an open mind. Shipping my life across seas to a place that is completely different than I’m used to is a scary thing. Thankfully, everyone else on my trip feels the same way and wants a friend as well. My advice is to just be kind to them, get to know what makes them different, and be encouraged that you can sharpen one another. I promise nothing brings you closer than traveling and figuring out hard things together.

Secondly, it’s ok to miss home. I’ve had to learn to give myself credit and that I’m doing a hard thing and hard things take time to get adjusted to. Bring photos and letters from home when you miss friends and family and never forget to make Facetime calls. Keep a journal and write every detail down. It’s fun to look back on how you were feeling at each moment throughout your trip. Although at times it’s hard to miss the people you’re closest to, use it as an opportunity to lean on those around you and grow in your independence.

Lastly, take each day as an opportunity to grow. Never in my life will I be able to spend 12 weeks exploring Italy with such an amazing group of students. Each one of my days is different than another and will teach me different lessons I will carry for the rest of my life. Whether it’s a cooking class, a wine tasting, catching the bus to Rome, or late nights in the palace, I hope to never take one for granted, given that each moment will be something I cherish forever.  

War Eagle and happy traveling,

Caroline Klein

Ellis Thompson and I at the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Push Pin 

A delicate, red push pin can hold so much power. For some, it can be used to hang pictures but for me, a push pin holds a heavy and rewarding weight. It holds the weight of travel. In my childhood bedroom, a world map was hung and the places I traveled to were marked with a little, red push pin. Like anyone’s travel journey, the pins started off scattered around my small town, but would soon grow and the pins would travel around the world. 

These push pins helped to symbolize my travels and commemorated the opportunities I gained. With every push pin came new opportunities, learning experiences, and adventure. I knew I wanted my next push pin adventure to be through the Joseph S. Bruno program. This program offers unimaginable opportunities and learning experiences. I have called Ariccia my home for a week now and I couldn’t be more thrilled. By being in the small town of Ariccia, I am able to live in a close-knit and welcoming community. 

A major bonus to Ariccia is that it is only a short train ride away from Rome! We traveled to Rome during our first week and after that day, I booked a train for the next day. Rome offers such rich culture, cuisine, and landmarks. One of my favorite memories so far was when I, as well as some other JSB students, solo traveled to Rome on the weekend. Toward the end of the night, a few of us decided to attend the event, “Night of Museums”. This event offered one euro admission to all museums around Rome. Upon entering the Musei Capitolini, we came across a live band in the middle of the museum. 

It was such an amazing moment to be a part of and that was only on the sixth day I have been here. This town and program has so much to offer and I am extremely excited to see what new adventures I am able to partake in. Also, did I mention there is a corkboard in my room here in Ariccia? Going to place a pin in Rome now! 


Emma Rutledge 

One of the rooms inside the Musei Capitolini.

The Welcome to My Temporary Home

            My First week in Ariccia was wonderful, but a blur. It took several days of the initial shock to settle in that I had moved thousands of miles away from my home and family, but in every corner of this town, I was welcomed with open arms. As our bus pulled up to the Palace, a few local vendors stood outside of their shop and waved to us, welcoming us to Ariccia. I knew immediately that I would enjoy my time here.

My knowledge of the Italian language was close to none, apart from a few words and phrases I learned from an app. There are not a lot of English speakers in Ariccia, which accompanied with my insufficient knowledge, made even ordering a coffee a daunting task. The café and restaurant owners surprised me with their abundant patience and kindness with us as we attempted to place our orders. When I would get stuck on a word or didn’t know the term for a pastry, they would help correct me and teach me the correct way to say the word which I have greatly appreciated.

It was also encouraging to find that many of the people I have met so far are just as interested in my life as I am to learn about theirs. In these short two weeks, I have already gained a lifetime of experience with the opportunity to get to know the people of this town better. My homesickness is eased with every conversation and encouraging word, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this semester holds.


Caroline Ward