I can’t believe we have already been here for one month. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be living in a different country for three months, and wouldn’t know anyone, I would not have believed you. The thought was uncomfortable and so out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t, and did not want to, imagine it. What I didn’t know though was how much I was going to love and appreciate it. In just five short weeks I’ve not only met so many of the most amazing people, but have gotten to see places I have always dreamed of. We not only get to see these places, but we truly get to immerse ourselves in the culture and live life the way that the Italians do here everyday. Some of my favorite moments have been the smaller ones like walking to the grocery store, watching the scenery out the train window, and admiring the beautiful sunsets in Ariccia from the bridge. These are the things that in six months when I am home I will still remember.
I still don’t think it has hit me that I am living in Italy right now and am almost halfway done. We have done so many things that I will remember forever. This past weekend my friends and I got to go to Sestrieres where I learned to ski for the first time in the Alps. This was an experience I will never forget and would’ve never done without the encouragement from my friends. Being in Italy, immersed in the culture, has taught me to slow down and appreciate the amazing experiences and the little things that I normally wouldn’t notice. It’s these little experiences that have impacted me the most. I’m so excited to see what else we do this semester and to be able to take these amazing lifelong memories home.
I’ve always been a go-go-go type of person. Back home, I spend most days rushing through tasks to check off everything on my to-do list. This mentality is engrained in the American culture. Although this can be a very positive thing in the sense that it has allowed me to be successful in my jobs and studies, it is so important to be able to have moments each day I am simply being, rather than always doing.
The Italian culture has much more of a slow-paced way of life, where they prioritize truly enjoying each day. Being immersed in this culture is helping me adopt this mindset as well. For example, takeout food is not common here. Breakfast is meant to be enjoyed at the bar of a local coffee shop, rather than rushing through a Starbucks drive-through before work. Lunch breaks are long, with enough time to go home and cook and enjoy a nice meal, rather than the typical thirty-minute sandwich break given in America. Walking places is often preferred, even if driving may be faster. People stop to watch the gorgeous sunsets each night.
At first, I worried this lifestyle may drive me crazy. I can be impatient and value convenience and efficiency. However, I am learning that this is actually a very beautiful way to live. Living this way allows me to make more meaningful memories and connections each day. While I know I will never be able to fully kick my old ways to the curb, each day I am attempting to find a healthy balance between being and doing. I will take this new mindset back with me to America and watch each of my days become filled with more happy and beautiful moments.
As I sit here and think about what has led up to me coming here, I remember as a young 18-year-old listening to the College of Human Sciences abroad talk and thinking that this is the study abroad of a lifetime. Later that day I signed up for the Summer 2020 JSB Program. Little did I know back in 2018 that I would go to school in the middle of a pandemic and have my trip canceled. With a year wondering if my dream of coming to Italy will ever happen, I finally got on the plane and became a part of the Spring 2022 JSB Program. The day I had been waiting for for so long had finally come. Stepping off the plane and into Italy was the most exciting yet terrifying thing I have ever done. Then getting off the bus and experiencing the palace for the first time is something I will always remember. I know that I can never get this experience any other time in my life and am so excited to have these memories and be able to share them forever with all my friends and family. I am so grateful that I have been able to experience this country and see all the amazing things Italy has to offer. The places I have gotten to experience already is something that most people don’t get to experience this young. I cannot wait for the next 8 weeks and the countless memories that I get to make here and remember forever.
“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance.”- Morgan Freeman. I start with this quote because I have never known how to be still. If it’s just constantly being on the go or even when I’m standing still, I’m somehow still moving either by a shaking leg or a racing mind. Being in Italy has shown me the beauty of being still. Coming to Italy, I thought nothing would change. I expected to continue being constantly on the go, but I was pleasantly wrong. The first week I was here, I caught myself still watching the sunset and sipping on a cappuccino at a coffee shop. It felt amazing, but I thought to myself, ‘Why haven’t I done this before if it feels so great?’ I started to realize that I wasn’t on my usual routine, which consisted of whatever day it was; it had to be filled. I wouldn’t have dared to do something just as simple as sit and enjoy a cappuccino; instead, I would take the cappuccino and start my next activity. The Italian lifestyle is about enjoying the moment, whether sitting at lunch for hours chatting or taking a passeggiata (i.e., a short walk taken during the day purely for pleasure and talking). I am so thankful for this experience and have already noticed so many positive changes that I will definitely incorporate into my life now and even when I am back in Auburn. For example, even though I am involved in a variety of experiences like research, volunteering, and classwork, I will now lean into the experience rather than focusing on the end product. From finding joy in the drive to class to enjoying the silence while waiting on an experiment to finish, I am deeply grateful for this shift in mindset. I largely attribute it to my experience here in Italy.
Living in a foreign country for a period of time has sparked a wide array of emotions and experiences that I have never before had. Like the title states, my time here in Ariccia, Italy so far has been awkward yet awesome. A healthy balance between these two is essential for personal and professional development during my time abroad and as the days pass I am able to say that each one brings more awkwardness and awesomeness along.
I can’t expect my new life in Italy to be exactly the same as it was in Auburn, Alabama; I definitely knew it would be different. But as I’ve settled in and continue to explore more of the country, there are for sure many unavoidable awkward experiences that I have encountered and will proceed to have as the program moves along. For example, ordering my morning “latte” expecting espresso and milk but getting simply hot milk served in a coffee cup was awkward. I quickly found out that “latte” translates to “milk” in Italian, therefore understanding that I have actually just ordered ordinary, straightforward milk.
I’ve noticed that since I have been here, I have stopped waiting for things to happen and am simply just living. Along with all the incredible sights and experiences so far on the program, I have learned so much about myself and that in itself is awesome. Surviving and thriving out of my comfort zone has helped me learn that I am capable of much more than I thought I was before this program. Navigating a foreign airport alone, learning how to get around on new transportation, and figuring out how to achieve daily tasks with a language barrier are essential tasks that I have had no choice but to unambiguously do. I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn that it can bring countless awesome and awkward opportunities.
While walking through my freshman year orientation, the Apparel Merchandising Program made me aware of the JSB Study Abroad Program right off the bat. Knowing that an incredible journey was still three years away, I was hesitant to sign up, but I went for it. Fast forward three years, and I am here! I am in a country where I have never been, learning a new language, and making new friendships. The first day I arrived in my new home, Ariccia, I walked up to the brown-wooden-aged doors, and I stopped. I looked at the sign saying “Joseph S. Bruno, Auburn Abroad in Italy.” the exact words I had seen for the last three years, and I felt that I had just opened a new chapter and began writing my story in the book I call life. I am now across seas and ready to live the best three months.
During this time studying abroad, I have already learned so much in the three short, but fast, weeks that I have been here. The program gives us various opportunities to learn through the numerous day trips and classes. My favorite journey thus far was the mozzarella producer and the Royal Palace at Caserta. Going to a mozzarella producer was something I have never been able to do. Seeing the process firsthand, from the beginning of how they feed, raise, and milk the water buffalo to then eating the fresh, melt-in-your-mouth, buffalo mozzarella (made that morning!) was the best farm-to-table experience I have had.
I was then able to venture into the most stunning and grand palace in the world, located only two hours away from my own home at the Chigi Palace. I, physically, still cannot grasp how there are people that constructed a palace that has 1,200 rooms and covers around 500,000 square feet of land! The Caserta palace is a place I will truly never forget. While I have visited the most stunning locations, I have also indulged in cooking classes where I’ve been taught some traditional Italian dishes; my favorite being the Caprese Cake. My family is already excited to have me back to cook all the recipes I have learned and will be learning throughout my time here.
The JSB Program is an experience I know I will be learning and growing the most I have ever in my life. I also look forward to living in the moment and continuing to write the following chapters in my book of life. This is a time that I will always look back to and remember, and a part of my heart will always call Ariccia my home away from home.
When people told me going abroad would be an experience of a lifetime they weren’t lying. The days of this program are packed with activities from sunrise to sundown and though some days are exhausting, it has been worth every minute. I have been here three weeks now and each day is something entirely different. Rome has been our second home and with a short train ride from the town over, we arrive in Rome with high expectations and our apple watches ready to count our steps. I think being in Ariccia really gives you such a traditional experience of how an Italian lives, whereas if we lived in Rome, I would feel like a tourist that lived there for a short few months. Arricia is beautiful and homey, with the best cappuccinos I have ever had.
The field trip days are the best with our amazing tour guide and friends we meet along the way. Yesterday, we attended a water buffalo farm where we learned how mozzarella was made and had such an amazing and fun experience. We toured the farm as well as was treated with a tasting of the best cheese I have ever had. I think this has been my favorite experience so far, but dress appropriately!
Overall, I think this trip has taught me a lot about international lifestyles and the amazing culture that Europe has to offer. I cannot wait for what the rest of the experience has in store for me and am overall just so grateful for this experience.
After departing the U.S. and stepping foot in Italy a little over a week ago, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone to say the least. Learning and living in the small town of Ariccia where everyone speaks strictly Italian threw me for a loop at first. Throughout the past week and a half, I have picked up on many key Italian words and phrases that have helped me communicate with the locals. We also had our first Italian lesson with Sandra which has helped tremendously. She taught us how to pronounce every letter of the alphabet and how some letter combinations are “hard” while others are “soft” as well as hearing and understanding some common conversations.
Getting to go upstairs and see the beautiful artwork within the palace has been one of my favorite moments thus far. Living and studying in a museum is something I never thought would be my reality, but here I am about to live this dream for the next two months. We have had a few trips to Rome and seeing the Trevi Fountain directly in front of me has been one of my highlights. The fountain is not only so grand and magnificent looking, but also knowing that it is the only undamaged aqueduct after a German invasion makes it that much cooler. Legend has it that if you toss one coin in, you’ll return to Rome again, if you toss two coins in, you’ll fall in love, and three coins you’ll marry that person. Last week, I threw one in and I was back to Rome that same weekend- so maybe the legend holds true!
My name is Jaclyn Wiggins and I am here to talk about my experience in the beautiful city of Ariccia, Italy. My favorite thing about Italy is that everything I look at takes my breath away and I can’t stop being outside looking at everything that is in front of me. Every opportunity I get, I like to walk around outside, to look at the architecture, to eat amazing food, or to walk outside the palace to watch the sunset. A lot of the days after class, I like to walk outside and just watch the sun go down because the view is something I can’t get over. Twice a week I get to go on a tour and learn something that I did not know before and see things that I have never seen before. During the first tour of Rome, I ate in the Jewish Ghetto and I have never been happier. I am content if I have good food and a view, and that is exactly what Italy is with a lot of history behind it. The language barrier of the country is something I struggled with, but I have tried my absolute best to adjust and learn words that I can use everyday. Learning how to order a cappuccino has definitely been the most useful to me because I have ordered at least one a day! The most amazing part of this journey is being able to live in the town of Ariccia and live in the Chigi Palace. It is a small town with lots of things to learn and history that shows me how important this town is to the locals. The first thing I did when I arrived here was go on a run through Ariccia and the surrounding cities and it was so beautiful! I am lucky to call this place my home for a little while.