International Incident: Part Infinity

Judith, me, and Kacie at the Trevi Fountain

Recently, we went to see the Trevi Fountain. My friends and I all threw coins in the fountain in hopes of our wishes to come true! We all took group photos one after the other and even sat on the edge of the fountain in order to capture the water behind us. After a series of photos being taken, my friend Kacie announces that she is sick of the poses we have been doing at all the attractions and demands we try something different. Being the crazy dare-devil that I am, I decide to stand Continue reading

Adoption Night

Vivian and I with our Italian family!

Last week, every student in the JSB program got adopted by an Italian family to experience a real Italian-style family dinner! The way it works is that JSB invites families to the palace that are interested in “adopting” a student and having them over for dinner one night.  As the families come in, everyone seems nervous. Some students start to talk to the families while others wait until they are officially “adopted” to start talking to the families. After each Italian family arrives, everyone gathers around as Linda, Roberta and Cinzia randomly draw names from a bowl stating the name of the students being adopted by each Italian family.  As soon as they called out my name, I got to meet my new host family!  I got to know them and discuss when I would have dinner with them over some food called appretivos.

I was paired with one other student in the JSB program to be adopted by an Italian family, and we love our family! Our Italian family has a mother, a father and two daughters. It turns out the parents are taking an English class with the same woman who teaches us Italian, the parents speak English very well and so do the daughters so it is easy to communicate with them. One of the daughters did a foreign exchange program in Mobile, Alabama last year and has been to Auburn University! Also, the daughters are around the same age as us so it was easy to connect with them. I connected so well with them that they even invited me to go to Pompeii with them next weekend. Since the mother is a high school science teacher and I am an education major, I can’t wait to talk to her more about Italy’s education system.

Between being invited to Pompeii and having dinner with my Italian family on Thursday, I can’t wait to be fully immersed in an Italian home to see more of the culture and practice more of the Italian language. This might be one of my favorite activities that JSB has to offer.

By: Courtney Self

Study Buddy

This past week, I was able to experience something very fun and new. I walked from the palace to the local high school in Ariccia with other students in the JSB program to experience a day of immersion in the local culture. We visited a number of different high school classrooms for a few hours and were able to talk to the kids. These kids were learning the English language, and were incredibly good at it! They were much better than I was at learning French at my high school. You could tell they were eager to speak to us in our native language!

In the first classroom of two that I visited, the girls (pictured below) had a full list of questions prepared for our arrival. Many of them asked about our favorite pop culture topics, and music. The reason I call this post “Study Buddy”, is because I was able to learn Italian and help teach English to the students here!

For instance, They asked if we liked a show that they especially loved called “13 Reasons Why”, which I haven’t seen. Despite not knowing about this show, Italy in general has a lot of influence from American pop culture, as well as having many incredible artists of their own. It was very funny to talk with oOne of the girls who had a crush on the same pop star as me. We then found each other on iInstagram and can stay connected! It is crazy to see how different, but also how extremely similar, high school culture is in American compared to Italy.

Being able to visit this high school opened my eyes to a lot of interesting things about the Italian culture that isn’t necessarily taught in classes. It was great getting to know the locals high school students!

  • Shelby Miller

(pictured below: Some of the Italian students and I in the classroom)

Building a home away from home

Whenever I told my friends from home I would be living in a palace for the summer, they reacted with surprise and excitement. That is how I reacted too before officially moving in. It is the third week here at the palace, and we are all starting to find our own rhythm and daily routine, but it didn’t start off that easy. The palace is a beautiful place with lots of amenities for us as temporary residences, but it isn’t a home. I never realized how powerful the comfort of a home could be.

Although I haven’t lived at home for some time now, during my time in college I always felt my connection to home was still very strong. I am very close with my loving parents, and I am lucky enough that home is only two hours away. Being here and adapting to this new environment, I can sense myself longing for the comfort of home. I feel myself subconsciously trying to adapt to these new smells, creaks in the palace walls, and the comfort of my nest.

After three weeks, I can finally feel myself morphing into this lifestyle. This lifestyle of travel, living with 21 girls, and a busy schedule is not something I was used to. However, the longer I live this lifestyle, I can’t imagine spending my summer any other way. I can tell that just in the last three weeks, we have all grown and adapted so much and so quickly. I am excited for the continual growth that we all will see during our last 9 weeks, and I know that after this summer I will miss the smells, creaks, and the comfort that the Chigi Palace has given us.

My first caffe americano while sitting outside the palace with friends.

Rachael Snow

The Adventure of Directions

This past weekend I had the opportunity for personal travel time with some other Chigi babies to Barcelona. The city was incredibly beautiful. We ate delicious food, browsed through street markets, and went inside all the luxury brand stores. However, all of these destinations had to be found. By traveling on our own, we had to be the ones to navigate through this new city. At the end of the first day, we had just finished up our shopping and decided to head back to our hostel. We assumed our journey back to our hostel took about a 45-minute walk. We weaved through quaint neighborhoods, saw several cute restaurants, and peeked inside a few art galleries along the way. Little did we know, our walk could have only been 10 minutes. Our hostel was very close to us after we finished shopping, but we had no idea! It is funny because we could have been irritated. However, despite our aching feet we enjoyed every minute of it. Not many people can say they mindlessly explored the streets of Barcelona! If we had not made that navigational error, we would not have found the restaurant that made our breakfast the following day so enjoyable. Since we found this precious cafe during our journey, I have forgotten the name. They served chocolate milk in cute glass bottles and had live music. I ordered a crunchy granola bowl, topped with fresh kiwi. It was divine. The memories made at that breakfast table would not have been made if we did not get lost. Of course, the lesson of paying close attention has been learned. Thankfully, this time it was worth it. Getting lost led to new things and wonderful memories that would not have experienced otherwise. Our weekend in Barcelona was certainly one for the books!

Walton Stivender

Enjoying our beautiful Saturday in Barcelona ~ 5/20/17

Caesar’s Forum in the Light

The ruins lit up at the beginning of the show

Our group was very lucky to attend the light show at Caesar’s Forum in Rome. This is the first time the program had taken a group to an event like this. The light show at Augustus’s Forum was such a unique experience according to Linda Ruth that she thought that we would really enjoy seeing it at this new advertised venue. We stayed in Rome until dark to take a tour of Caesar’s Forum with a headset audio that gave us information on the functions the ruins used to serve as well as stories from the past. While we were walking through the site the lights illuminated the ruins and gave us a picture of what used to be there. This is was much more informative than solely using a tour guide because it painted a picture so we were not just listening but also visualizing the story as it was being told. It was so exciting to be able to walk through and picture what life was really like in Caesar’s Forum and the history behind it. This tour truly brings Ancient Rome to life and allows visitors to experience something totally different than a traditional tour. I thought the ruins were beautiful in the day time but seeing them lit up made the experience unbelievable. They were so beautiful, and offered the coolest experience to feel like I was living back in Ancient Rome walking around the Forum. It was like getting to live through a history movie. I would highly suggest keeping this opportunity in the program because it was one of my favorite things that we did in Rome.

By: Hannah Warriner

Barcelona Bound

The view from Park Guell

I have spent years waiting for this summer, and now that I am finally here, I feel challenged certain days. As my second weekend comes to an end in Europe I have noticed differences between Italy and New York. I can say with confidence that I did not think traveling in Europe would be much different than traveling in the United States. However, I keep forgetting that I am the foreigner while abroad which gives me anxiety. Back in America I often find it enjoyable to head to the airport whether I am traveling home or for a vacation, because going through the airport is a breeze for me. When my first avaliable weekend to travel personally came, I was overly excited to get on a plane to visit Barcelona, but the airport was a major concern for me. Being in a new place is scary enough, but when you are traveling from one new place to another new place, the stress can be more than overwhelming. As I reminded myself to take deep breaths, the day finally came to conquer my fears. When I got through the airport easily I felt such a release of tension in my body. We had made it to the gate with more than an hour to spare.

Once in Barcelona I did not want to leave. After the stress of traveling was over I took in all the city had to offer. Barcelona is one city that I want to return to re-experience the colorful culture. Barcelona is filled with colorful buildings and attractions such as Park Guell. Experiencing Spain was drastically different from Italy, but it was much needed. While I am studying in Europe I want to come in contact with as many cultures as possible. To only stay in Italy due to learning the culture and language would be an injustice to myself.  To study abroad means to go outside of your comfort level and experience what the world has to offer. Since I visited Barcelona, I can say that I now feel a lot more comfortable traveling around Europe. However, I still have so much to see and can’t let the fear of travel or cultural differences stop me.

– Stephanie Thaler


This Isn’t Disney World

“You all get to be our guinea pigs for the Forum light show,” Linda told us. She was referring to the new light show at the Imperial Forum of Caesar in historic Rome, an event JSB had yet to attend. Beforehand, whenever I read the name “Caesar’s Forum Light Show” on our schedule sheet, I would picture something similar to the light parade at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, with flashing neon lights for pure entertainment. I was wrong. It was more enlightening than anything I could have ever imaged.

We arrived, entered the usually inaccessible part of the Forum with our tickets, and were handed a headset with radio by the staff. Each radio and headset was timed to provide information with accompanying music according to each area of the Forum we approached. As we walked silently through the dark Forum, beams of light would outline pieces of the ruins, and the guide on the radio would explain its history. The most amazing part of the show was when light was used to recreate how the Forum looked in its glory days. It was truly as if we were stepping back in time.

Throughout the show, I was nearly frustrated that I could not actually step back into time. We were given such a close glimpse of what life in the Forum was actually like, that it left me wanting more. Our group was solemn and awestruck as we walked through the ancient ruins which were revived through modern technology. I have a feeling this night will remain as one of my favorite experiences of this incredible semester.

by Olivia Glover

The only remaining upright columns of the Temple of Venus in the Roman Forum. They are shown bathed in light during Caesar’s Forum light show.

New Opportunities!

In the first few days that I’ve been in Ariccia, I felt like I’ve already undergone a significant amount of growth. Though six days is only a small fragment of the time I will spend here in Italy, I feel as though I’ve learned three important lessons, and I expect to learn many more within the weeks to come.

Firstly, I’ve learned how important it is to push yourself to experience new places and cultures. I signed up for this Summer 2017 study abroad session during the first semester of my freshman year. Three years later, it is almost unbelievable that I am really living in Ariccia. As the days to my international departure came near, I started panicking about the trip, and even questioning if I was making the right decision to abandon my normal life to live in Italy for three months. It wasn’t until the fourth day while travelling to Italian cities and sight-seeing that I began to realize there is no reason to fear change when it is accompanied with growth. This study abroad program not only brought a new appreciation for the Italian culture, but it also brought a newfound confidence to travel, communicate, and navigate on my own in foreign countries.

Secondly, I’ve learned the importance of growing friendships and making connections with the people around you. The only people that could comprehend the insecurities and worries as well as excitements and expectations that I felt were the twenty girls that are living in the palace with me. Not only are we all on the same adventure, but we are all most likely also experiencing some of the same feelings. I had known several of these girls previously through my major, and I can honestly say that I’ve grown closer in my friendship with them more in the past week than I have in the past three years. These girls will become my best friends and support systems in the next three months living here, and I couldn’t be more excited to watch these friendships blossom.

Lastly, I’ve learned to cherish and appreciate everything that my parents have done for me including this semester abroad. My parents have financially and emotionally committed to supporting me during my semester abroad. It is a rewarding gift to know that my parents have my best interest at heart and that they want me to experience this life-changing program.  I realize how grateful I am to have the opportunity to study a new culture in a foreign country for three months and travel to new countries. I cannot wait to see what the next 11 weeks has in store for me. Ciao!

Meredith Hardin

The first picture I took of Ariccia.


20 to 1

Twenty new roommates. Twelve weeks. Three classes. One new home. Then there is myself. This is a simple way to summarize what my life will entail this summer as I spend these next three months living in Italy, taking classes and traveling around Europe with new people. The shock of the situation still runs through me. How is it that two and a half years ago I was a quiet freshman from New York, trying to find my place at Auburn University, deciding to study abroad for a summer, and now that summer has arrived? Needless to say, the trip came much sooner than I was expecting, and as the time came closer for me to wave goodbye to the United States for three months, the nerves and fear set in about my impending adventure.

Nevertheless, this first week has proved to me why I took that leap of faith, and why I put myself out of my comfort zone once again. It is not hard to fall in love with the beauty, charm, and brilliance of the Italian culture, especially with the amazing girls that are here as well. Even with all of this excitement, this last week has still been an adjustment. Going from having my own bedroom in a house in the U.S. to sharing one with twenty other girls in a foreign country where I do not speak the language is a tough thing to accept. However, after feeling some discomfort at first, I learned take a step back, take in a deep breath and remember what a wonderful opportunity is sitting at my feet.

Europe is waiting!

Amelia Hoover

View of Ariccia from the Palace