My Italian Dream

Throughout this trip we have learned many things about the history, wine, and food of Italy. Our lectures are always very interesting and fun because after we learn about a topic in class, we get to go see it firsthand as a class. This is my favorite part of the program because we get to learn about things up close and personal and experience everything the way it was meant to be experienced; in real life -Not just through pictures and PowerPoints. Another thing I love about the program’s field trips is that through them we gain actual life experience. I believe this is the best thing anyone could gain from this trip. It is a skill we can use forever.  I remember when we took our first trip to Rome learning about all the trains and metro stations, it seemed impossible to memorize. After a couple days we surprisingly mastered it and when we took our first trip out of Rome to Interlaken, Switzerland, we had no problem getting around and we were much more confident in our navigation skills. From starting out this trip knowing nothing and no one to making 14 new best friends and finally knowing how to order a sandwich from the deli, this trip can be beyond rewarding. Sometimes on the weekends I can’t believe this is actually my life. For instance, so far we’ve been to the blue grotto in Capri, hired a private boat in Positano, and the next weekend I was in Switzerland hang gliding and kayaking. I never thought I would spend my junior year going to a different country every weekend, meeting people from all over the world, actually knowing my way around Rome, and conquering my fear of heights by hang gliding. No doubt this has been the most unreal and rewarding experience of my life and luckily it’s not even halfway over yet.

“I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth. Then I ask myself the same question.” – Harun Yahya


Eagle Ed and I flying over Interlaken

Eagle Ed and I flying over Interlaken.

– Jessica McCormack

To Berlin & Beyond

Although the Joseph S. Bruno program is a ‘study’ abroad, it is an amazing experience. The lecturers are more than entertaining, and the subjects are fascinating; some include, but are not limited to: architecture, art, literature, history, Western thought, wine history, and many more. Being able to associate the things we learn about in class to the actual sites around Italy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Additionally, we have the chance to travel as a group to places all around Italy and the chance to travel when we have free time – which is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Overall, being an Interdisciplinary Studies major, it is amazing to be able to combine all of my emphases in a variety of ways throughout the program.

For our first free weekend, a group of girls and I decided to travel outside of Ariccia and to get a sense of some other European culture. We decided to take a trip to Berlin, Germany, and tour the Berlin Wall, surrounding areas, and get a taste for a traditional German Oktoberfest. The Berlin Wall was one of the most moving pieces of history I have ever experienced. Viewing the beautiful art along the wall, in addition to all of the memorials from the time East and West Germany were divided, is extremely emotional; the wall feels as if you are in the time and place of the people who experienced this time in history.

One of the inspiring pieces of art along the Berlin Wall

One of the inspiring pieces of art along the Berlin Wall

A lot of the art is representative of the strength and optimism the Germans had during a terrible time and it is a reminder to keep experiencing life and to travel often – because without traveling, we would have never had such a great opportunity as this. Italy is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen – and I am completely ready to move here! The people, the culture, the food, the schooling, and many more as I could go on forever, are all amazing and worth every minute of the semester!

Written by Heather Heffner

Explore: Weekend Travel

Even though I have only lived in Italy for one month, the JSB program has allowed me so many unforgettable experiences. Here are a few of the important lessons I have learned thus far: how to navigate a new city using only a paper map, learning survival Italian is completely essential, I unknowingly needed 14 new best friends, and travel on the weekends with  abandon.

For our first free weekend of personal travel, my friends and I decided to pack up and head to Paris. We woke up at 4:30am to catch our flight, and arrived to our wonderful hotel at the mere hour of 9:00am. We almost had an entire three days to explore the city, and we were not going to waste it. We immediately began wandering with our new best friend- the map of Paris. We explored boutique shops we could never afford, stopped in hole-in-the-wall antique stores, and drooled over the amount of pastries in every bakery window. Paris was everything I imagined and more. We visited sights that I had longed to see such as Monet’s paintings, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. Spending the weekend in Paris with my best friends is something that I will never forget.

JSB trusts us to travel on our own, and I am extremely grateful for that freedom. I am not only gaining learning experiences from the Italian culture, but from the other countries I visit as well. Personal travel while studying abroad has opened my eyes to what the entire world has to offer.

Taylor Moore

Friends at the Eiffel Tower- Paris, France

Friends at the Eiffel Tower – Paris, France

Soaking Up Sorrento

This past weekend we were given the option to spend some time exploring Sorrento. After we visited the ruins at Pompeii, we hopped on the bus and arrived in Sorrento just in time to shower for dinner. We met Viviana, the kind lady who coordinated our hostel for the trip, and invited her to dinner so she could tell us all about the wonderful trips Sorrento and the surrounding areas have to offer.

Viviana shared plenty of activities to do in Sorrento, Capri, and Positano including boat tours, local restaurants, and beach areas to work on our tans. The next day we woke up and caught the 9:45 ferry to Capri for our first adventure. Right when we got off the boat we were greeted by a handsome Italian man who offered a boat tour of the surrounding islands and grottos for 15 euro, so we gave it a chance, and it was more than worth the money.

Boat floating in the Green Grotto, Capri

Boat floating near the Green Grotto, Capri

We boarded the boat with a diverse group of people of all ages from all over the world and set off on our tour. I think I probably took at least 300 pictures just on this tour alone because everything we saw was so gorgeous. I wish I could have captured the same intense beauty in my camera as I did with my eyes; however, I got a lot of great shots that will serve as wonderful memories forever.

The next day we took a trip to Positano, but we almost did not make it because the ferry sold out before we could buy tickets. Luckily, we were able to rent a private boat to take us there. We felt like Beyonce, who was actually staying in the area at the same time, because we had our own personal transportation to one of the most beautiful places in the world.

When we arrived in Positano, I think all of our jaws hit the floor because of the breathtaking view of the stacked colorful buildings and beach scene we arrived at. We spent the day shopping, sipping on Pina Coladas, and relaxing on the beach. I feel like the stunning views and amazing experiences I had this weekend will be cherished forever in my mind and my journal. I cannot wait to look back on my time in Sorrento and remember the incredible experience I got to share with the girls who are becoming some of my best friends.

Lara Purcell

Three Weeks of “La Dolce Vita”

“La dolce vita” means “the sweet life”, and I can wholeheartedly say that the past three weeks have been the best of my life. Just last weekend I was on a private boat that some friends and I rented for the day, touring the island of Capri. We saw dolphins off the Amalfi coast, went swimming in the Blue Grotto, and I am pretty sure we caught a glimpse of Beyoncé’s yacht. I am actually checking things off of my bucket list, things that last year seemed like just a dream.

I have already learned so much on this study abroad, and it has only been three weeks. Every morning I look forward to everything planned for the day. Whether it is a lecture about the Roman Empire, Philosophy, Development of Western Thought, or our (much needed) Survival Italian classes, every lecture is thought provoking and incredibly interesting. One of the many things that I love about this program is how interactive the learning is and how many field trips we get to go on. This past week we travelled to Pompeii. I got to hike up Mount Vesuvius and look into the volcano that buried Pompeii in ash almost 2000 years ago, and then I got to visit the ruins of Pompeii. I have gotten to stand in all these incredible spots that were so important in Roman history, like Pompeii, Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, and so many more. And it has only been three weeks!

I can already tell that I have grown a lot through the experiences that this program has given me. If someone had asked me last year if I ever thought I would be navigating a group of friends through an unfamiliar city filled with people that do not speak the same language as me, I would have told them they were crazy. But that is exactly what happened last weekend in Rome! Traveling, especially in a country with a different language, has really been pushing me out of my comfort zone, but in the best way possible. I am so excited and ready for the learning, travelling, and growing I will do in the last nine weeks of “la dolce vita.”

Sarah Payne

Molly, me and Jessica at the top of Mount Vesuvius.

The Freshness of Italy


The fresh berries in Nemi.

The fresh berries in Nemi

It is already the beginning of the third week here in Italy. I have seen many breathtaking views in Ariccia and Rome in the past two weeks. We are all overwhelmed by what we see and experience each day and they are all once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The Colosseum was stunning, and St, Peter’s Basilica was absolutely unforgettable. But among all that, I would like to share what affected me the most during my two weeks here – fresh food. I love food and I loved what I ate everyday before I came here, but within these two weeks, Italy has shocked me with her food. In U.S, I basically can find any ingredient in the grocery store that I want to cook in my food or eat out in a restaurant and order a dish that has out-of-season ingredients in it. But in Italy, they only serve season food. All the fruits and the vegetables I have had so far were absolutely amazing and everything was absolutely fresh. Because of this component and good foundation, I trust all the foods that are served in restaurants and I have definitely enjoyed everything so far. In the near future, I would love to open a coffee/pastry shop. Italy has definitely inspired me on how to gain customers’ trust and serve the best quality ingredients. In my store, I want to serve everything in season, and I know it’s absolutely worth it according to how much I have loved it. This is my dream and I think this can be a great component to differentiate my store from the others. Italy has been good to me.

April Wu

Reflecting On My First Week In Ariccia

View from the bridge that joins Albano to Ariccia.

View from the bridge that joins Albano to Ariccia

One of the first things I did as soon as I settled into Ariccia was find the best route for running. Wednesday morning, I set out across the bridge in the direction of the neighboring town, Albano.

Albano is a larger city than Ariccia, and was somewhat intimidating to navigate as a runner. The streets were busy with morning commuters, and I was unfamiliar with the overall layout of the roads. It didn’t take long for me to find myself out-of-breath and turned around in a new town. Then, as it always does in situations like this, clouds began to gather overhead and before I knew it, I was jogging through heavy rain.

I momentarily considered sitting for a while in a coffee shop, but decided to press on and find my way back to the main street, and head home. As I made my way down the sidewalk, multiple people walked up alongside me, and without being prompted, reached out and offered to walk with me and share their umbrella. One man walked me all the way across the bridge to Ariccia, only to turn around and walk all the way back across. I was absolutely amazed by the kindness of complete strangers who made an unfamiliar place feel like home!

As a Human Sciences major, I hope to have the opportunity to work with people on a day-to-day basis. Already, the kindness and courtesy of the people I have met in Italy has challenged me in the way I interact with others. Am I going out of my way to reach out to someone, whether I know him or her or not? Am I actively seeking to make others feel comfortable and welcome in my home at Auburn University?

Out of all of the wonderful sights and experiences of my first week in Italy, the kind man walking me across the bridge with his umbrella will be the memory that I cherish most. To me, the bridge from Ariccia to Albano will hold a special meaning to me for my remaining time in Italy and long after I return home.

Mallie Taylor

Study Abroad of Study Abroad

The porchetta festival in Ariccia

The porchetta festival in Ariccia

When I first heard about Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy, the idea of studying abroad was not strange to me.because I have already been studying abroad for four years in America as an International Chinese student. I know the value to me of study abroad, and the different feelings of facing problems and gaining new skills. However, this Italy abroad program still attracted me to seek more about European culture, history and traveling through various countries. Plus, I have never lived with a group of 15 people for 3 months in another country. I remember the last time I was living in a dorm with more than 10 people, and that was back in my junior-high school in China. I have really good memory of living and studying with my friends all together. To me, this is a completely exciting, fresh, fantastic journey and  adventure for. I will not say I am the special one that deserved all these, but I am definitely the luckiest one by getting a chance to be able to study abroad.

Although this is only the first week of our 3 months of studying abroad, I already have a good feeling of how great this experience is going to be. My teachers are very friendly and patient with us, and so are my three sweet roommates. Each of our dorm has a Italian name that fits their culture, and ours is called Firenze which is the famous city, Florence, in Italy.

Since we are living in a small but fantastic town Ariccia, it is not common for them to speak another foreign language such as English. However, Italian people are all nice to us and try to do their best to help us to find things. I feel like they are as good as people in Auburn.

Last but not least, we are so lucky that we have encountered their local annual Porchetta festival this weekend. It was so much fun and it’s something I have never seen before ever in my life. I somehow felt like I was in China!
Sunny Sun