The Good Times

We all have memories that we look back on fondly. These moments come quickly, and we often don’t realize they were “the good times” until they’ve long passed. However, if we’re lucky, we find ourselves in a situation that forces us to take a step back and realize that the good times are in the present. I have been lucky enough to experience the JSB Program two times; once as a student, and once as a teaching assistant. The sights I’ve seen and the knowledge I’ve gained are things that I will always cherish, but my favorite part has by far been the relationships that I’ve formed along the way. This program forces you to step outside of your comfort zone, but not like you would during a syllabus week icebreaker activity in undergrad. Here, you’re given the opportunity to ask the hard questions, to build relationships with 20 other people on a level you never thought possible, and to find out more about yourself than you ever thought you needed to know. I would be lying if I said every day was easy, and honestly, I’d be lying if I said every day was fun- but that’s where the personal growth happens. These relationships form on spontaneous weekend trips to places you didn’t know even existed, where the excitement of new experiences turns into a breeding ground for intentional conversations and strengthening friendships.

While I can’t believe that our time in Italy is coming to a close, I know that in 2 weeks, 10 months, or even 20 years I will look back on this experience with the same fondness that I do right now. I also know that “The Good Times” are far from over, because the bonds formed on this trip will not be easily broken, and the experiences we have had will shape all of the good times to come.

So in conclusion, to my Summer ‘18 Chigi Babies: I could not be more thankful for every one of you. I am confident that each of us were hand-picked to be here this summer for a reason. I’ve had the privilege of watching all of you grow and learn over the last 12 weeks, and I can confidently say that you’ve made this one of the best experiences of my life. I am better because of each of you, and I hope that you always look back on your summer in Italy as one of the best times.


Christopher Vought

The group enjoying Burano during week 10.

My Beloved Classroom

Summer in Italy has broadened and enriched my appreciation for an ancient culture.  At Camp War Eagle, when l signed up for summer study in Italy I had no idea what to expect.  Even though I read many interesting articles and memorable quips from previous travelers, there was no way anyone could have prepared me for what I would encounter or for how deeply I would be challenged.  Although I have been with fellow Auburn students, being immersed in a different culture has been daunting. I have learned to go easy on myself when I make cultural faux paus, because no one adjusts to a new culture immediately.  Yes, I have failed miserably at speaking Italian, but while the locals have laughed at me they have appreciated my efforts.  I have experience a sense of accomplishment when I have learned from my mistakes.  Admitting that I don’t have it all together living in a foreign country has been freeing, and I have learned to relax into the unknown and the unexpected and just enjoy the moment.
                Living with other students for a summer has been both comforting and challenging.  Staying up later than I should has led to conversations that have deepened new friendships.  The lack of sleep can always be made up by sleeping on the bus or train the next day while traveling to the next big adventure.  And adventures they are!  I spontaneously booked a flight to the Czech Republic with six students who I hardly knew, and none of us spoke a word of Czech.  We had a great time!  I have learned not to be afraid to step out of my comfort zone.  The day we stood in line for two hours waiting to tour the Palace of Versailles I watched some of the most amazing conversations spark between two strangers simply because one person was brave enough to initiate a dialogue.  Several of us made the effort to get better acquainted with the town where we were staying and ended up going on a fun shopping trip across a bridge and finding a great restaurant where we met more locals.  Spontaneity is the key!
                Studying abroad with 20 Auburn students for three months affords the opportunity to develop close friendships as well as to broaden our education.   I was sitting on the beach in Positano eating pizza and laughing with my new friends when I realized that I wanted to continue to experience life with these amazing people.   Anyone who studies abroad with a group may sometimes be annoyed, uncomfortable, or experience homesickness.  Flexibility and focusing on affirming others makes this trip a time of personal development.  Having the opportunity to be immersed in the Italian culture with fellow Auburn students, seeing the amazing art and architecture of Italy, and meeting the people, has made Italy my favorite classroom!
Katherine Morris

Take a Risk

Growing up, people always tell us that the older we get, the faster time flies. I have never understood the reality of this statement until coming on this trip. At the beginning of this summer, twelve weeks seemed like such a long time, and I was absolutely terrified to leave everything I loved at home for what at the time seemed like an eternity. Now, we have less than a month left and I am wondering how the summer could have passed so quickly.

I chose the title “Take a Risk” because coming on this trip was one of the biggest risks I have ever taken, but is also hands down the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I signed up for this trip only knowing one person, and I am going to be honest, the week before I left for Italy, I did not want to come at all. While I was packing my bags, it became all too real that I was giving up my last summer in undergrad with my friends and family to spend it with complete strangers. Now, when I look at the people sitting around me in class, at dinner, and on weekend trips, the word “strangers” is the farthest thing from my mind. If I had not chosen to take the risk of coming to Europe, I would not have gained this new little family that now, I could not imagine life without.

Here are just a couple of examples to show just how much of a family we have become. We recently returned from midterm break, and you would think that we all might need a break from each other since we get zero time apart aside from sleeping. Well, about three days into midterm I found myself missing all my pals and was already counting down the days until we were back home in Ariccia. A second example of how close this awesome group has gotten is that we have planned multiple weekend trips with the whole group. We seriously just love being all together as a group, and I would not have it any other way.

If I had not taken the risk of coming on this study abroad, I would not be living the best summer of my life. I sometimes have to take a step back and think to myself how lucky I am to have this experience. The last eight weeks have been jam-packed with adventure, and looking back I cannot imagine why I was ever hesitant about coming on this trip in the first place.

I plan to soak up every little second of the time I have left. In four weeks I will not be surrounded by my twenty new best friends 24/7, going into Rome twice a week will not be commonplace anymore, I will not be country hopping every weekend, or sipping wine watching the Ariccia sunset. Words cannot express how grateful I am for this summer.

Thank you, Chigi Babies, for making a trip that I was terrified to come on, a trip that I am dreading to leave.

Ciao Ciao!

Just a couple of the pals who have quickly turned from strangers to family.

Katie McGettigan

I Have Said It Before, and I Will Say It Again… Help.

I have been signed up for this trip since I was a freshman at Auburn, and I am now going into senior year. This program has just always been something that we were told to do, and so I just decided to sign up that day not knowing a single thing. As the Summer of 2018 kept getting closer and closer, I still had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just knew that I was about to travel the world with my best Interior Design friends and other people that were not in my major.

Leaving my family was the worst part. My best-friend, Sabrina Angelo, and I joked about taking a flight back to America before we even got out of the airport in Rome. We felt like we were the only ones who felt that way, but little did we know everyone was nervous about the summer. Sabrina is actually the person who found the statement that said, “I have said it before, and I will say it again…help”, and that has become the theme of this trip.

You might be asking the question, “Why would they say that?”.

Here is an example: We were told to be careful ordering appetizers, because in Italy many times they continue bringing them until you force them to stop. So, having this in the back of our heads, the first night in Albano 7 of us decided to go to the famous restaurant “Da Charlies”. We set foot to find “Da Charlies” with empty stomachs, and after about 30 minutes of passing the same places, we realized “Da Charlies” was nowhere to be found. We stopped at the stairs of a church and sat there trying to figure out a game plan. We then decided we would set out again to find it. After asking locals, we found the famous restaurant. Kerry Davis went in to tell them we had 7 people, and they begin to scream at her in Italian. She came out all perplexed saying they told her to get out it was not dinner time. We were wondering why they wouldn’t serve us and forgot that it was only 7:00 and they don’t eat until 8:30. We had come this far and were going to eat here. We waited until 8:30 and dropped back by with smiling faces. As you can imagine, we came back right at 8:30 and were the first ones in there. So, naturally, we did exactly what they said beware of. We let him swindle us into 8 different appetizers! “NO” was not an option at this point. This is when Sabrina said with a mouth full of amazing appetizers, “I have said it before, and I will say it again…help”.

Now, as I am on week 9 the phrase is being used differently.

Here is an example: I won’t be spending every waking second with my 20 best friends in 3 weeks. I won’t be frantically trying to pack with my 7 roommates hours before we have to leave for our flight. I won’t be exploring a different country every weekend. I won’t be able to say, “I can’t wait to be home (in Ariccia) in my nest” when I am tired after an amazing weekend trip. I won’t be able to just walk to ‘Mustache Man’ for a panini. I am not going to sit on a train and cry laughing with my best friends because we realize at the end of the train ride the guy next to us actually speaks English. This is when I say with tear-filled eyes, “I have said it before, and I will say it again…help”.

This was the first appetizer that Mr. Charlie himself set down at our table. Right then and there we knew we had messed up.


Ciao Bella! – Bye Beautiful!

Kit King