This is what makes us Girls

I can’t believe we only have four days left. There are so many words I could use to describe the Joseph S. Bruno Abroad in Italy program (JSB)… amazing, fun, challenging, and inspiring, just to name a few… but what really stands out to me about this whole experience is the group of girls that I have been fortunate enough to spend these 12 weeks with.

When we arrived in Ariccia, more than half of us didn’t know each other. I only knew two of the students before joining this program. I remember being warned that being part of JSB would be an intense bonding experience, but nothing could prepare me for the joy I experienced watching old friendships become stronger and the creation of new friendships.

You see, as the GTA of this program, I’ve held the unique position of being both an observer and a participant. As an observer, I was able to witness so many moments that still put a smile on my face. I saw women who called themselves strangers only weeks before hold each other while one of them cried over the loss of a close friend. I saw them celebrate an engagement, birthdays, and job/internship attainment. I heard them talk to each other over the phone when they weren’t traveling together. I saw them form inside jokes and create odd nicknames for each other. In short, I saw relationships form and strengthen to a point where I’m certain they will withstand the test of time. I feel incredibly lucky to have been granted the opportunity to have witnessed and participated in this experience with this group of women. I hope that they cherish the memories they made while studying abroad – I know I will be reliving these last 12 weeks for years to come.

As I write, I can’t help but remember our first days in Italy – we first enjoyed the sights and tours as individuals, but we gradually began to enjoy everything in groups.

Us girls on our first tour of Ariccia. After this, I often couldn’t take a candid group pic without catching at a hug, laughter, or hand holding.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each and every one of my Chigi Princesses!

*Christiana Datubo-Brown*


Coming to an End…

Best memory in Italy was getting engaged to my best friend since the sixth grade, Russell Tumblin.

Best memory in Italy was getting engaged to my best friend since the sixth grade, Russell Tumblin.

Italy has been everything that I have dreamt about, and so much more.  This country has so much to offer its people and its visitors.  Everywhere we have been has been beautiful.  Each little town has its own thing that is unique to it.  Whether it is a certain food, drink, profession, etc., each town has their own.  I have thoroughly enjoyed living in the town of Ariccia.  The students are away from the touristic lifestyle that you will find in the bigger cities, and this has made it easier to become absorbed in the true Italian culture and lifestyle.

This country has opened many of our eyes and minds to different ideals, ways of living, and ways of understanding what is going on around us.  The lectures have also helped in opening us up to another culture different from our own.  I hope that when we come home we will hold on to many of the things that we have learned while being in Italy.  I hope that we have all learned to appreciate the Italian culture, and the many others that we might have crossed paths with while we have been here.

This trip has impacted every single one of us while being here and I know that everyone of us has enjoyed the many adventures along the way.  I know that some may have liked it more than others, but I know that we have learned to appreciate the country of Italy and its people.  However, I know that probably everyone is ready to go home and see their families and their friends.  I hope that I will get to come back to Italy quite often because a lot of wonderful experiences have happened to me while I have been here, and I would love to create many more.


Ashton Cooper

View of Rome from the Roman Forum

View of Rome from the Roman Forum


INDS atop Hadrian’s Villa; from left-right: Carly Hamlett, Ashton Cooper, and Jessica Been


Group shot at the water organ fountain at the Villa d’Este

Rome is More Than Ruins


“I want to be where I am, and be fully there, instead of missing the things I’ve been looking forward to for so long, caught up in my fears and anxieties.” -Shauna Niequist

I read this quote today and I think it is such a great reminder as we wrap up our study abroad adventures. I often find myself looking forward to the next thing rather than living in the present and enjoying the blessings I have today. I have always looked forward to studying abroad, so I hope that in these last 2 weeks we can all be fully here and put any worries or future adventures to the side.

I can’t believe it is our last week of classes and field trips in Italy! The trip has flown by and has been filled with many exciting adventures, lots of fabulous food, a few long days, but overall the semester of a lifetime!

This past week we visited more modern parts of Rome (Eataly and Cinecitta) and had lectures on current and more recent Italian history! Eataly is a large, Italian supermarket store (think an IKEA of food or a Whole Foods on steroids)! The Eataly in Rome is huge and is in the location of an old train station hub. Full of fresh groceries, restaurants, cookbooks, and lots of learning- it is heaven for any foodie! We got to spend a few hours in the store, eating lunch and shopping around for Italian food and gifts. Afterwards we headed to Cinecitta which is an Italian film studio. This was very neat because we were able to see the sets and backdrops that are used in different movies and TV shows. Parts of Gangs of New York, The Passion of the Christ, and Helen of Troy were filmed here!

Restaurant backdrop mostly made out of styrofoam used in different movies filmed at Cinecitta.

Restaurant backdrop mostly made out of styrofoam used in different movies filmed at Cinecitta

In our lectures this week we learned about the Italian role in WWII and had the opportunity to have a question and answer session about current European and Italian issues. In history, when learning about Italy and Rome, the main focus always seems to go back to ancient times. However, Italy plays other important roles in history. WWII and the more recent issues have always been of higher interest to me, so I really enjoyed these lectures. My favorite was hearing about WWII from Marco Antonini. It was such a unique opportunity to hear from someone who saw the war, reactions to the war, and war damages first-hand. I cannot imagine experiencing and living through something like WWII. His stories are so interesting and we were lucky to be able to hear them!

Sooner, rather than later, we will all be back in the States and will go about our busy, chaotic American lives, but I hope that we can remember the Italian ways and stop to smell the roses of life during our busy days!


-Susan Waggoner

Where Nature Meets Beauty

This week we went on a unique field trip, unlike anything we have done so far during our time in Italy.  It was enchanting, rich with history, and provided picturesque scenery in every direction that you could look.  We visited the Ninfa Gardens.  When you first arrive, it appears to be an average park that you could find anywhere in the world, but once you step farther within, that idea is quickly shattered by the beauty that surrounds you.

The gardens are set up in a way in which it appears that everything is natural and untouched by man.  Patches of green grass, flowers blooming in every color of the rainbow, and streams full of crystal clear water are dispersed in every direction.  Once I took a second to look closer, I realized that the incredible detail put into the Ninfa Gardens could only be possible through countless hours of work to make sure that every acre stays picture perfect.  I cannot even imagine the amount of lawn care that is required to keep the grass cut, the weeds pulled, and the plants trimmed.  The gardens do not have many paths made from dirt or gravel.  The paths are mostly grass paths, which adds to the image of natural beauty that they are trying to achieve.

We had a guided tour of the grounds.  The tour allowed us to learn more about the history of the gardens, which also includes the ruins of an ancient town left behind.  We were able to walk inside the ruins of a church with some frescoes still left on the walls.  We also learned that the water in the streams is so clean that you can drink it.  We took turns filling up our water bottles and enjoying the cold water during our walk; this was a unique experience that I had never had before.

This experience was one of my favorite moments of the trip because the beauty found here is so different from what we are normally surrounded by during our travels around Italy.  It was a much needed relaxing journey through history and scenery that will stay captured in our memories forever.

-Leah Carey

The crystal clear waters of the Ninfa Gardens where we were able to fill up our water bottles.

The crystal clear waters of the Ninfa Gardens where we were able to fill up our water bottles

A Trip So Unique!

This trip has been the trip of a lifetime! I have enjoyed the fact that the Joseph S. Bruno program provides students with a chance to gain a diverse perspective on Italian culture and lifestyle. The thing that is so unique about studying abroad with this program is that lectures and tours are interdisciplinary. They apply to all of the students involved, whether you are an HDFS major or a finance major, one can always discover something new. To be able to have a presentation or a lecture about Bernini is one thing, but then to actually see, understand, and in a sense have an emotional connection with the subject is another. The places that I have traveled to and studied with the program are unique. We visit places that I never would have dreamed of getting to visit. Whether Volunteering at Caritas, a homeless shelter in Rome, wandering through the one of the most romantic gardens in Europe, climbing to the top of the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica, or joining your friends on a weekend trip to Cinque Terre, there is always something exciting to see. I have noticed that studying abroad has not only strengthened me from an educational standpoint, but has also broadened my horizons socially and culturally. It is so unique to say that at one point in my life I lived in Italy with people that have inspired me and have changed my life in such a positive way. I have grown closer to friends and have met new ones along the way. I am so excited to have these people in my life and say that we all exploring this amazing adventure together. I am so happy to be a part of the Chigi family!

– Jessica Been


Hiking in Manarola, Cinque Terre (Photo by Susan Waggoner)

Hiking in Manarola, Cinque Terre (Photo by Susan Waggoner)

A Night at the Opera

As stated by Professor Linda on Monday, “the best is yet to come;” and last night proved just that. After a full day of classes, we girls had a chance to get all dressed up and participate in a traditional part of Italian culture, the opera. We were all very excited to see what exactly operas entailed as we sat down to watch the show, Maometto II.

The story is set in the 1470s during a time of war between the Turks and the Venetians and portrays the story of lost love, love for your country, and love for family. I was very quickly amazed by the performers’ abilities to make something so difficult look so easy. None were wearing microphones and even from the third level of the theatre, each note could be heard perfectly.

After the show, we discussed our thoughts on the opera. As we discussed, it reminded me of the famous Pretty Woman quote that Professor Linda had shown us just that morning. It reads:

“People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.”

Although some liked the opera more than others, I believe that we all walked away with an appreciation for that part of Italian culture as well as an appreciation for the performers’ talents.

All 20 of us outside of the theatre, dressed to impress!

All 20 of us outside of the theatre, dressed to impress!

Allie Chapman