It took until my feet touched Italian soil for returning to
Ariccia to not feel like a dream. I couldn’t believe I had been afforded the
opportunity to come back to the JSB Auburn Abroad program as the Spring 2019 Administrative
Assistant. Sometimes it still feels like a dream, especially on days like last
Thursday as we walked through the Ninfa Gardens with all the spring flowers in
While what I have been seeing isn’t always new to me, I am
getting to share these experiences with new people. Each one of them has made my
time here even more enjoyable. In these final weeks, I hate to go to sleep at
my usual early hour as the time is running out that I will get to spend with
Last night a few hours of sleep were exchanged for one last
dinner at Fortini and a communal brainstorming and giving out of superlatives. Hearing
everyone’s’ humorous quirks and personality traits reminded me how well this
program bonds together those who may not normally have crossed paths or become
friends back in Auburn but will now be life-long friends after sharing this
I came here with the intention of serving these 21 ragazze
(girls) well so as to make their experience the best it could possibly be, and after
last night I think I was successful. While
exhaustion or homesickness make moods take a dip every once in a while, I think
everyone is leaving with bittersweet feelings because we’ve come to love our
time here so much. I know I will continue to miss my favorite place in the
world and some of my new favorite people.
Being abroad in Italy has been an eye-opening experience for me, especially as a student striving to become a part of the apparel industry. It is impossible to walk down a street in Rome or a hallway in an art gallery without being instantly inspired by the details in the tiled floors or the historical significance of a given object.
This program has allowed me to see my passion and major (Apparel Merchandising, Design, & Production) on an international scale. One of my biggest observations has been that while Italians are more environmentally conscious in their daily lives, the apparel industry is controlled by the demand for “fast fashion”.
The term “fast fashion” refers to the speed at which retailers produce clothing above the standard cycles per season (varying by retailer). An example of this would be walking into Zara or H&M and seeing a new collection of clothing each week, as opposed to seeing new collections only when the seasons change.
In my Human Sciences classes at Auburn University, I have learned the apparel industry is the second largest polluter in the world through its use of dyes, factories, etc. and how important it is to be conscious of my own “fast fashion” consumption.
There are multiple American companies that have shifted their attitudes of consumption and encourage their consumers to be conscious of the environment when selecting a piece of clothing from their label. When I am shopping in stores in Italy, I have not found that the same message is being sent. My main take away is while countries in Europe are in generally more environmentally conscious in their recycling initiatives and use of public transportation, there is still a long way to go in recognizing the long-term negative impact that the “fast fashion” apparel industry will have for future generations.
As I sit here in the Starbucks of London Stansted Airport, I am thinking of what little time I have left of this incredible experience. Prior to leaving, when someone told me 12 weeks would fly by, I shook my head and said it was tons of time. Now time has flown by and I am grasping on to every second left before returning home. I never could have imagined the numerous lectures, cooking classes, tours, field trips and so much more we would be able to squeeze into our time here. Each and every opportunity has helped me to grow in ways I did not know I needed to grow, and pushed me to go outside of my comfort zone and become a more outgoing person.
I am excited to think of the ways that this experience will help me as I head toward graduation in four short weeks. Having the opportunity to be immersed in another culture is the best way to learn how to interact with, and appreciate, those different than myself. Since I will be graduating with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, this skill will be useful in any career path I decide to pursue. I am so thankful to the HDFS department for allowing this program to count as internship credit, because nothing else could have compared to the knowledge I have gained here.
With all of this being said, I have two major takeaways. One: I need to absorb every second of opportunities like the JSB Auburn program, and college in general, because it will all be over in what feels like the blink of an eye. Two: I need to keep taking risks, such as going to Italy for my last semester of college, because I have come out of it with so much more than I had before.
Thank you Ariccia, my 21 roommates, AU Human Sciences, and everyone involved in making the JSB program possible. It is one of the most enriching experiences I have had in these last four years, and I cannot wait to see where I go from here.