This Romancing

As I reflect on this summer, I can only sit here and marvel at everything we have seen and done. I think everyone here has experienced life through this program and can agree that we have already seen more than any of us could have ever imagined; and I am grateful for it all. Despite these seemingly satisfying visions and awe-inspiring moments, I have come to realize something that makes me view these captivating scenes drastically different. This monumental truth is wrapped up in God’s glory. Without seeing the earth’s beauty as God’s creation, these sights and experiences are void. As I give up my agenda and selfish heart’s desires for this summer, my Father continues to open my eyes to things unseen- things more beautiful. 

This realization and answered prayer reminds me of a book I read two years ago. From Stasi Eldridge, “Every song you love, every memory you cherish, every moment that has moved you to holy tears has been given to you from the One who has been pursing you from your first breath in order to win your heart. God’s version of flowers and chocolates and candlelight dinners come in the form of sunsets and falling stars, moonlight on lakes and cricket symphonies; warm wind, swaying trees, lush gardens, and fierce devotions.” Is this not in accordance of our reality here? This romancing is immensely personal… as if it had been exactly scripted for your heart. 

I feel known and satisfied in Ariccia, Rome, Budapest, Barcelona, Sorrento, and Paris. This is because I know my God is whispering love through the visions He gives me as I travel from place to place. Through the nature He has designed for me, He speaks, “You are known. You are loved. And all this is for you.” Through the little moments where I doubt Him or entertain a negative thought, He shows me an intriguing color or pattern in nature and I laugh at my wayward heart and thank Him for anchoring my soul to His goodness. I know that He alone satisfies the world. This is why I am drawn to experiencing this summer’s adventure with Him within me. He coddles me in His glory. I never want to leave. And I never have to. 

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:1, 3-4

In His love, Virginia Ramsey

Ninfa Gardens, described as “the most romantic gardens in the world”

Fight off FOMO

Ah, good ole FOMO. For those who are not familiar with the term, FOMO is an acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out”. An example of this would be if I was invited to go out for dinner and drinks at a new restaurant, but I am completely exhausted from the day, or I didn’t get any sleep the night before. Suddenly, even though I am exhausted and would love to just relax at home or got to bed, I am engulfed with FOMO. What if I miss out on something really fun? This could possibly be one of the best nights of my life. And, not to mention, I don’t want to feel lame by choosing to stay in instead of going out and being social. So, what do I do? Should I listen to my body, telling me that I really need to relax and take the night to recharge? Or do I give in to the feelings of FOMO, taunting me, filling me with thoughts of “what if’s” and anxiety. Well, I am here to say that FOMO will travel along wherever you go, and it is absolutely okay to not give into it.

FOMO has really been a problem for me so far in this program. I mean, I am in a beautiful country, so why not do everything humanly possible? I think that is everyone’s thought process when coming into this program, as it certainly was mine. However, now that we are entering week four, I have a slightly different attitude regarding FOMO. I, for one, am someone who needs some alone time to survive. I have sacrificed a lot of that needed alone time because of FOMO. In turn, I was more drained and exhausted than ever before. So, I decided that I would try my best to ignore the FOMO harassing me, and listen to my body and mind. Since I made that decision, I have felt so much better. Of course, the FOMO still lingers when I decide to say no to something, but I know that I am truly doing it for my well-being. I am not saying that people should just lie in bed and watch Netflix half the time, or to be an anti-social hermit. I am just saying that it is okay to do your own thing every once in a while. And I am saying that it is more than okay to take a step back and say no to something when your body and mind are telling you to take a small break.

It is easy to get caught up in the world of FOMO here, and it can quickly run you down. Take some time to look after your mental and physical health here. Ignoring the FOMO every once in a while has made my experience here a whole lot better, so do not feel pressured to do every single thing. Know yourself and know when to ignore the FOMO.

Don’t let FOMO control yo life no mo’,

Emma Rose

Smiling behind the pain of this hike

Full Camera, Full Heart

Going into college, I knew that I could not let myself graduate without studying abroad. Everyone that I talked to before coming to Auburn said they had either studied abroad and had the most amazing experience, or had not and regretted it. When I signed up for the JSB program at Camp War Eagle I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t research the program, I was not even sure of the minor that it would give me, all I heard was “Summer in Rome” and immediately knew that I needed to sign up.

Fast forward 2 years, and here I am. This short month that I have spent in Ariccia has changed my life completely, and this group has changed my life completely. Coming into the palace I was unsure of what to think. I felt like most of the students knew each other already, and I was intimidated. But, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every single student on this trip is so special and genuine, everyone makes an effort to be friends with every single person. Having all of these different and unique friendships is something that has played a huge part in making this experience so amazing.

In addition to that, being able travel all over Europe is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. There is so much culture and history everywhere I look. From the Roman ruins to the Vatican City, it is amazing to think that you are walking in some of the same places that various famous rulers, popes, artists, and many more once walked on. Every single field trip that we go on and sight that we see gets more amazing. My camera is full of pictures from every single place that we have traveled, in the hopes that I will capture enough of them to be able to relive this experience through the photos once I return home. Although, it’s not going to be easy to make me leave this wonderful place.


Isla Stewart

During a weekend trip on a sunset boat cruise in Barcelona

Cheek Aches and Challenges

On May 7th, 2019, I hopped off a bus in front of a giant, white palace in the town of Ariccia. I had no idea what I was doing halfway across the world, away from friends and family, or what I was about to get myself into. I was too jet-lagged to see the numerous cars barreling down the road almost running me over, too tired to realize how astonishing the view was from the bridge, and too out of place to take in where I was standing. Grabbing my suitcases (yes I brought 3) I headed down the steep cobblestone driveway to the front door of Auburn’s international campus, took a deep breath, and walked inside. Ever since taking those steps, I’ve had constant cheek aches from smiling so much.

I never knew how much happiness living abroad would bring me. As a nutrition major at Auburn, I am challenged solely through academics. Here, I am challenged not only with academics but also socially, physically, and mentally. Many classes and field experience activities have forced me to step out of my comfort zone. For instance, navigating through Rome with solely a map and teammates, public speaking in our leadership class, and ordering dinner at a restaurant where no one speaks English. I should also mention getting used to living with twenty-one other students. Everything I have been forced to do while abroad, either in Ariccia, Rome, or on a weekday trip to a spontaneous Italian city, pushes me to be a better version of myself. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds, and I am anxious to seek the adventures that remain undiscovered. 

Here’s to continuing to be challenged, facing my fears, laughing until I cry, and smiling until my cheeks ache!

From Ariccia with love,

 Chapman Giles

All smiles when successfully navigating to The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument!

We Are Here and We Are Empowered

It’s a little crazy to me that we have been in Italy for just over a week now! It just doesn’t seem real because things are already off to such a great start, it feels like we are in a movie!  I was definitely scared coming here, because I don’t like not knowing what to expect. But this has been a breeze! I already feel connected to all of the other students and even our first week has been amazing. I spent my first weekend here with four fellow new Chigi Babies in Rome, and we had the time of our lives exploring, eating, and simply taking it all in.

           One of my favorites experiences so far was today. Lacey told us we were going to be doing a four hour “leadership workshop” and I could tell by everyone’s faces that we didn’t know what to expect. Little did we know that we were about to have the best day. Carmen Westbrook came to talk to us about leadership and led us through group exercises. The mood instantly changed when the activities began and we realized it wasn’t what we expected at all. We took turns talking about where we see ourselves in five years, and then decided how we were going to accomplish it. She placed us into groups and we brainstormed how each of us could accomplish our dreams. Everyone was glowing and you could feel the excitement from talking about our futures. I am so excited to take back this exercise to my Interior Design cohort because I know that it is something everyone can truly grow from.

           The four hours went by like it had been thirty minutes, and because of those four hours all of our attitudes have completely transformed. Everyone was already so supportive and kind, but now we are fully ready to conquer these next ten weeks and help each other become the best versions of ourselves!

It was empowering.

Allison Elrod

These smiles aren’t just for the picture, we are all truly so happy here at JSB 🙂

Three Thoughts for Abroad

The gang on the steps of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument!

We have finally arrived in Italy! This experience is something that I have been anticipating for so long and being here definitely feels surreal. I have always dreamed of traveling to Italy, but I never thought I would have the opportunity to live and study here. After living in Italy for almost two weeks, I have learned three very important things: to have zero expectations, to practice open-mindedness, and having gratitude are the key goals to make this the best experience possible. 

Throw Away Expectations: As young college women, our outlook on study abroad experiences is often influenced by Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or other social media platforms that portray study abroad opportunities in glamorous ways. However this experience is so much more than fun, partying, or getting the perfect Instagram. It’s about immersing ourselves in a new culture and stepping into a world completely different from what we are used to. It can be hard to not constantly compare yourself to others’ experiences when you see these amazing photos, but again, throwing those expectations out the window is key for experiencing it from your own perspective. 

Open-Mindedness: When signing up for JSB, the only thought in my mind was “that will be fun!”, little did I know that this would be a huge growing experience that would help me expand my personal horizons. It also opens up a world of personal and professional opportunities. It can be tempting for me to overthink, over-plan, and over-worry, but for going abroad I couldn’t understand what I was doing until I got here. That has been a huge blessing. This experience is something that you can try to prepare for as much as you like. But being here has surpassed any expectations. 

Gratitude:  Lastly, whether the experience is going the way I thought or not, I feel that it is so important to simply take a step back and be grateful for an opportunity like this. Each day, I have stepped outside and just looked around—literally looked around—and thought about where I am standing. We will never be presented with a chance like this again, and I am extremely grateful to be on such an incredible journey with an incredible group of students. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds! 

Con amore, 

Clara Williams 

Ariccia I See Ya

Where to start? Ariccia, I just adore you. So far, this trip has been one-in-a-million. It is absolutely unbelievable to think that we are only on the second week of our three-month journey abroad. Ariccia has already fit into the category of my home away from home, due to the simple kindness that every local exudes to their new American neighbors. Our random group of 22 strangers has been accepted into this sweet town for the summer to create life long relationships and memories.

I believe that this group (the 50th JBP group EVER!!) is going to be one of the most relational groups to come through the program yet. Everyone is truly fantastic. After our leadership class today and hearing everyone’s five-year plans, I will never forget the amount of encouragement that flowed through each individual after sharing. The support and desire of each person to see their friends succeed is something that I hope we can only continue to pursue these next few months. Everyone is so talented and able to conquer their dreams, today just set the tone for how this program will equip us for more than just a good adventure. We learned how confidence and self-esteem are vital for conquering our future. I believe we can push each other to become the best version of ourselves. From living in such a close vicinity all summer, we get to see each other at our highs and our lows, and because of this, we can create unique and meaningful friendships with our experiences at JSB. Two weeks in and I already see how the Lord brought together each indivdual to Italy for His greater purpose in refining, strenghtening, and growing ourselfves. Looking forweard to all the joyfilled moemnts and travel stories to come!

xx, maggie leigh

survived the rain as we traveled around the local towns of our (mini) grand tour!