Deja Vu

Almost two years ago I sat at this very computer, in this very room to write a post incredibly similar to this one. I went back to read how I summed up my first experience with the JSB Program and the most prevalent line says “…it was an experience I would never trade or probably repeat.” Well, here I am, repeating the experience and I have more love for this program than I thought possible.

The crazy thing about coming back is it gives you sense of deja’ vu. While some things are alarmingly the same, others offer a stark contrast to my first experience. After three months of living in Ariccia and the Chigi Palace it starts to feel like home, but after six months of living here I can honestly say that it has become a home away from home.

The JSB Auburn Abroad in Italy Program has provided with me with life skills I didn’t know I needed and guided me through career choices I had never considered. For those things I will be forever grateful. I know that in my many years to come I will always talk about my time in Italy and how it changed me for the better.

One of things I promised myself this time around was to enjoy my little town. When you get to Europe you want to see all of Europe, but something I have to remind myself is that other students are coming to visit the country I am so quick to leave on the weekend. That is why one of my favorite memories of this semester is from the weekend I stayed in Ariccia and used my days to explore Rome.

That weekend, Maddie Coats and I stayed at the Palace and met our amazing JSB faculty in Rome to tour the Domus Aurea (Emperor Nero’s “Golden House”). The day was spent getting to know the people that work so hard to keep things running smoothly and exploring one of Rome’s hidden gems. 10/10 would recommend.

If there is anything I have taken away from combining my time with JSB, it would be learning how appreciate every experience, good or bad. That is a life skill that will change me for the better.


Roberta, Linda, Francesco, Cinzia, Me, Maddie C., Stefano and Victoria outside of Domus Aurea

Il Bel Paese

Week two is done and it feels like we’ve been here for two months, in the best way possible. The more time that I’m here, the more I can see myself living here long term. However, we have hit the point where the hype has worn off and we’re all missing home a little bit. Queen-sized beds, grilled chicken, and free water and restrooms are luxuries that I did not expect to miss this much. Although there are a few things Alabama offers that Italy does not, Italy is just fabulous all around. I might change my mind after the three months abroad, but I can say with confidence that, Europeans, as a whole, do life well.

Italy, especially its small towns, is a country with elegance and pure beauty. Everywhere you look is simply stunning. With mountains covered with colorful houses to the beyond-peaceful lakes to the golden-lit countryside, all decked out in age, ancient architecture, and history; it is like no other. It makes sense why people have nicknamed this country “il bel paese”, the beautiful country. I think God spent a little extra time when He created Italy.

Although this “bel paese” is known for its gorgeous and diverse landscapes, Italy is much more than that. It is known for its merry and bright culture. After being here for two weeks I have come to realize their way of life is very different from the rest of the world’s. One thing that I admire is that local businesses and stores take a ‘siesta’ in the middle of the day and close for three to four hours as their lunch break. It is a fabulous thing to be able to stop midday and have a little ‘siesta’ to recollect and recharge. I absolutely love the Italian culture because they simply take their time. There is something to be said about stopping to smell the roses and fully enjoying every moment. It is such a unique aspect of their culture and such a contrast to the fast-paced world.

Italy has the beauty, the culture, and it also has lots and lots of history. Italians pride themselves on their country’s age and ridiculously advanced and unique architecture. They live with pride and passion for their country and they take the time to admire the beauty around them. Italy is full of gorgeous sights and ancient history at every corner that has impacted the world greatly. Italians are very proud of it and that is another unique attribute of this country.

The grass is always greener; however, I am already a big fan of Italy and a huge fan of the people. They live life well, not to mention their cuisine is to die for. All in all, I am in love with Italy and the Italian culture and I am excited to keep experiencing more of what Italy has to offer.


-Miranda Register

More Than a Program

The Joseph S. Bruno Italy program has been a whirlwind of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The beauty of the Italian culture, cuisine, and history seems to lurk in every corner and hug every cobblestone. As a young college student, I have spent this time exploring myself, and all the world has to offer. In the beginning of this journey, I was terrified of the thought of traveling to a foreign country with a group of girls I barely knew. However, as the time has passed I have come to realize that this program has offered me more than just the opportunity to immerse myself into a new culture. This program has opened the door to new and unexpected life-long friendships, and support that I may have otherwise never known.

During the middle of my semester abroad I received news of a family emergency that abruptly turned my world upside down. The next day I was on a plane headed back to the United States, with the unlikely thought I would be able to finish off the semester in Italy. I felt so alone in that moment, sitting next to strangers on a cramped flight, trying to pretend that my life wasn’t falling to pieces in front of me. Although, I wasn’t really alone, I had a newfound ‘family abroad’ full of friends and teachers bending over backwards to assist me in anything I needed. Sweet letters and text messages of encouragement filled my mind and heart with warmth during such a dark time. When I finally made the tough decision to return back to Italy to finish out the semester, I was greeted with a plethora of hugs and goodies covering my bed.

Many have recently told me that I have shown great strength in dealing with such life-changing and unforeseen events. However, I believe the people in my life constantly supporting and lifting me up have helped me find that strength within. The Joseph S. Bruno Italy program may have shown me the world, but it has also shown me compassion and the beauty of friendship both near and far.

-Maddy Epperly

A warm welcome back to Ariccia