I have a lot of things to be grateful for in life, but I think being able to study abroad in the wake of global pandemic may be the number one thing on my list, forever. As a Global Studies major, I am required to study abroad, but the pandemic made that difficult. So, when I received the email that there were spots in the Summer 2021 Joseph S. Bruno Italy program, I was so happy I screamed but I was slightly skeptical. This program is so desirable it is practically impossible to sign up unless you did it years in advance. I kept waiting for the catch and then there it was: no personal travel or travel outside of Europe. I knew this semester would still be worth it but I had no idea how it would play out.
As I prepared for Italy, I spent a considerable amount of time wondering if I would like the girls I was spending the summer with. Since we were such small group, I knew it was important I enjoyed being around everyone. On the first optional weekend excursion I realized that there was no question, I loved them. We had travelled to Viterbo and none of us had a plan for the weekend at all. We spent the entire weekend aimlessly wandering around the shops and checking out the different restaurants in the area. Even with nothing exciting planned, I still had the best time.
Realizing that while the places we visit are amazing, most of my memories will come from the people I am with, has helped me not mind the restricted travel. Some of the most fun I have had so far has been in the Palace. Just a few nights ago a few of us got together for an impromptu karaoke party, it was some of the worst singing I have ever heard but I have never laughed so hard.
There are many benefits of being with a smaller group, including being able to have a connection with every person. Another benefit to the small group is that it has created an environment conducive to improving our communication skills. One of the best things we have done to prevent misunderstandings or interpersonal conflicts is learning everyone’s preferred form of communication, whether we are more direct or indirect. Knowing how to communicate with everyone has also allowed us to get closer in a relatively quick amount of time.
Getting to spend my summer traveling alongside ten of the kindest young women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, let alone call my friends, is something I will always be grateful for. These women have shown me that while the sites we visit are beautiful in their own right, the memories we make together are even more beautiful.
Love from Ariccia – Emma B.