I think “surreal” is really the only way to describe the first few days of our semester abroad. The excitement for this opportunity has been building almost three years for me – from the minute I put my name on the list freshman year until the plane touched down at Fiumicino in Rome, Italy. Now, I had looked at pictures and heard stories about Ariccia, Italy (the town in which we are living during these 12 weeks), but I had no idea just how adorable it was! This town is seriously SO CUTE – cobblestone streets, little mom & pop shops on every corner, a bridge overlooking the gorgeous valley underneath… I could go on and on. By far the coolest part, though, is the fact that we’re living in a palace – The Chigi Palace… I still can’t wrap my head around it. I also love that Bernini was the mastermind behind multiple architectural features in the town – my interior design senses tingle every time I pass one. All the locals are also so sweet – the first night all 21 of us were walking around and kept hearing “ah the Auburn girls are back!” Although they don’t speak English, they are so hospitable and try to help us out as best they can! I didn’t really think about it until now, but Auburn students have been in this town 9 months of the year for the past 16 years, so there really is a special connection, and the locals make sure to watch out for us. Ariccia is the perfect place to call home, but traveling into the city of Rome has also been absolutely breath-taking. Physically seeing the history we’ve learned about in school truly puts everything in perspective. I just can’t understand how people hundreds of years ago were able to create such beauty without the technology we have today – every site, every street corner was mesmerizing. I don’t think it was until we were strolling through the streets of Rome, taking it all in, that it FINALLY sunk in… we’re here… this is home for the next three months of our lives. I am so grateful!