It is surreal how Ariccia and the Chigi Palace become your second home after studying here for three months. As I reflect on my SECOND 3 month stay, I am blown away by how easy it was for me to fall back into the routine of things and how fast 12 weeks flew by – anyone know how to turn back time?!
It is hard to express the feeling I got when my taxi started driving across the bridge as I saw my first glimpse of home again – my eyes started to water and my heart started to beat faster – I was back in what seemed like a fairytale and was greeted by my second family (Cinzia, Roberta, and Linda). I could not believe that I had returned after just three years, and was awestruck to come back as part of the staff and get to help 18 unique personalities navigate their new adventure of living and breathing the Italian culture.
And what a wonderful adventure it has been.
Part of what made Ariccia feel like home are the experiences I have had with the souls I lived with, the locals, the staff and the guest lectures. All of these interactions provided me with self-growth that is almost indescribable. I have found myself improving skills I already had and learning how to navigate new situations while forming new talents. That being said, I think the most growth I experienced was breaking out of my shyness and becoming more outgoing and engaging.
When I was studying here last, I mostly kept to myself and spent my free time having ‘me time’ in my nest (a word used to describe your personal bedroom area). However, being the GTA this semester forced me to break these habits. I found myself spending more time in the common areas of the palace and exploring Ariccia, Albano, and Genzano. What a difference this has made in my experience here. It is funny how I thought my last 12-week stay was impeccable and now I reflect on these past months and realize that it was surprisingly even more perfect the second time around.
If I could give one piece of advice to future JSB students it would be to live life in Ariccia to its fullest. We are each here for such a short amount of time and should take full advantage of our second home, because trust me, it will 100% become a home away from home and alumni often find themselves constantly missing it.
Fall 2017 Graduate Teaching Assistant