Be A Yes Woman

Not one single word can be used to describe the experience of studying abroad in Italy with the JSB program. I signed up for this study abroad experience my first week of freshman year, over two years ago. The excitement continued to build up, along with a lot of feelings of the unknown. I felt overwhelmed as the experience was getting closer but at the same time was filled with hope of so many new possibilities. As I have learned in the past two weeks, I the best way to take down such an incredible and bigger-than-you experience like this is to jump right in.

I most definitely recommend bringing a small personal journal. I started writing in mine about 12 days before my departure. I filled it with emotions of leaving, how I was packing, the places I wanted to go, and so on. Living in the Chigi Palace is an experience on its own. Living in a place with so much rich history and with amazing friends that I know will develop into lifelong relationships makes this experience even more special. The personal journal I have, gives me the extra space I need keep track of where I am emotionally, mentally, and physically. I would highly suggest to anyone getting ready to study abroad with JSB or any other program to bring a special journal that can be used to be present and stay aware of every aspect of this incredible experience. It is also something special to hold onto to look back on in the future. 

I would also suggest to, no matter what, always say yes. Never stop exploring, and always say yes to hanging out with the other students for lunch or dinner. To always remember this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not many people are lucky enough to have. I have gained such an incredible feeling of gratitude and perspective throughout my first two weeks here. Through this journey I am excited to see how I will grow through challenging myself to always say yes to the places I want to go and things I want to do. 



Me at the Colosseum! My favorite spot to visit!

My Advice to You

Writing is something that I have always struggled with, especially if it is something that I know many other people are going to read. It makes my hands shake to think about having to open up and share a piece of myself with strangers, not knowing how they will respond. Even writing this post is a giant leap outside of my comfort zone.

What I realized when I got to Italy for the JSB program is that this entire semester abroad is designed to push me out of my comfort zone. I am in a new place, with new people, and we are all having experiences that are new to us. This is what makes this program so beautiful!

The JSB program is so special because it gives people like me the opportunity to open up to the world in ways that I never would have otherwise. In just one week, I have become close with 22 girls that I did not know beforehand. I have learned about leadership, tasted many different Italian wines, traveled around Italy, and made plans to visit the rest of Europe. I am freshening up on my writing skills and my communication skills while having the most unforgettable time of my life in a new country.

To anyone who may be apprehensive of a new experience, my advice to you is to push yourself and to take the leap into the unknown. I can guarantee that you will surprise yourself with everything that you are capable of and by how resilient you are. I know that I have!


Rebecca Norwood

Me loving the JSB experience!

If You Give a Girl a Plane Ticket

When I was a child, I frequently remember my mother reading a book to me called “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” in which the mouse in the story continues to crave something after he is given the cookie. 

This story seems silly and probably doesn’t make much sense, but when I landed in Rome and went on my first week of adventures, all I could think about was how much I resembled the mouse in my children’s book. 

For the last two years, I’ve been talking about this experience: preparing and planning. I never knew what I would do once it actually happened. It wasn’t until my first weekend in Rome when it really hit me that I would be spending the next three months in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. As I strolled past the Colosseum, I realized that I couldn’t get enough. I have to see the world. 

For the next 11 weeks, I will be spending weekdays exploring Italy and weekends exploring Europe. Here are a few tips on booking flights, places to stay, and transportation: 

Booking Flights: 

Start by looking at Google Flights. They will give you the cheapest prices on the days you want to travel, even if the airline you fly with on the way there doesn’t match on the way back. EasyJet is also another wonderful place to look for cheap flights to live below the radar. 

Booking Stays:
When traveling in groups, Airbnb is the way to go. Look up places for multiple people, discounts, and access codes. 

Usually it is easy to find great places for low prices when split amongst members. When searching for good stays, look at the comments. If all the comments are beaming, it’s usually fake. Look for the comments that say one thing they didn’t enjoy, such as “the shower had poor water pressure” or “there wasn’t a lot of restaurants in the area”. This adds credibility to the reviews. 


Most European cities are walkable. If you have the time and health, but not the money, this is the best way to do it. Get a paper map and go on an adventure. Most European cities as well, have developed public transportation that will take you everywhere you need to go. Practice looking at the transit maps and figure out your stops ahead of time to avoid the anxiety of crowded stations. 

Using these tips and tricks can help the girls who have that wanderlust in them. Because you know, if you give a girl a plane ticket… 

She’ll want to see the world. Best,
Kim Nothdurft 

The Colosseum