My most memorable experiences involved the festivities surrounding the Palio. Seeing contrada life up close is something that not many outsiders have the opportunity to do, so I felt very lucky to... ACM3390
Best semester of my life
Submitted by GapYearStudent - University of Richmond | January 08, 2014
SIS was everything I could've hoped for. I was a Gap Year student when I enrolled, and it was initially pretty intimidating to be the youngest in the program. Those fears were swept away immediately when the faculty, other students, and my homestay family made me feel completely welcome. The academics were challenging but not overwhelming, and I felt that my schedule had a well-rounded balance of work and play, which consisted of exploring Siena, travel elsewhere, nightlife, etc. I had the time of my life with SIS and credit them so much with making a Gap Year student feel years older in maturity.
The best semester of college!
Submitted by Erika - Ohio State University | June 14, 2013
I had a great time in Siena. I came to the program with a relatively high level of Italian knowledge, but my ability to communicate grew exponentially in the semester I spent there. I loved my host family and all of my teachers, and I would not change a thing about my abroad experience. I also think the volunteering aspect of the SIS program really helps you become more a part of the local community instead of remaining a foreigner for the entire semester, sequestered in dorms with other English-speaking students. I think this program is amazing for anyone looking to really improve their language skills as well as to develop a deeper understanding of the Italian, specifically Sienese culture.
Submitted by NoahC - Lewis and Clark College | June 10, 2013
SIS was an incredible experience that i had the privilege to be a part of. I lived with a great family, the cultural immersion was beyond comparison, for setting students, such as myself, up with incredible relations with locals through schools, shops, and families.The Art History class I took while in Siena was one of my favorite class to date. SIS showed me everything to love in Siena. I couldn't be happier with the experience i had many thanks to SIS.
A real "full immersion"
Submitted by rockb - Lewis and Clark College | June 10, 2013
SIS does an amazing job putting the program together. At first, being fully immersed in the local culture is daunting, but if you are open to it, as SIS understands, it is the most conductive way to thoroughly learn Italian language and culture. SIS provides many opportunities to not only learn through their academic courses, but through interactions with host families, and through community involvement through service. Everyone on the SIS staff is helpful and friendly. If you're looking for the Italian experience, and not the stereotypical American Italian experience, SIS is the way to go.
Submitted by RAK - Siena College | January 07, 2013
I had the most incredible experience abroad. I came into this program with a background in Spanish and absolutely no knowledge of Italian. By the end of the semester I'd like to think I was at an intermediate level of speaking. I successfully wrote the 10 page papers in Italian and speaking in Italian was just second nature. I was very close with my host family and made many Italian friends. It was a big adjustment being in Italia and I loved every minute of it. You don't really realize it while you're there, but you grow so much as a person. You are put in tons of situations that you never would have been otherwise and you learn a lot. Do not stress the fact that all of the classes are in Italian, do not stress the fact that you can't really understand your host families at first. One day you're going to realize you can speak Italian and communicate, maybe not as well as others, but it happens. I'm so proud of myself and all that I accomplished because of this program. Also, everyone on staff is so great. Mi mancate tutti! Grazie mille.
Shout out to everyone in Acquacalda
Health and Safety:
I never, ever felt unsafe. Sometimes I would walk home a few miles at night. There were never any issues.
Definitely nothing like America and college life.
Time of my Life
Submitted by Justin Lapidus - SUNY - Geneseo | January 07, 2013
In short this was my semester ever being in college and I had the absolute time of my life. SIS was not only welcoming and helpful I actually believed they cared about everyone of us. The staff was great and really taught me. Before I did this program I knew no Italian and after 3 and a half months I was not fluent but I could communicate.
The best experience of my life
Submitted by Ag03stra - Siena College | December 25, 2012
My experience in Siena was incredible, eye opening and transformative - it showed me true meaning of community. My home stay family was amazing and through them and their involvement in the contrada of the caterpillar I experienced the palio, a tradition which predates the medieval period, not like a tourist but like a Sienese. My study abroad experience provided me with unprecedented access to a beautiful culture that is still very much alive to this day. In the day's preceding the palio I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Senese and participated in the cultural duties which belong to the contradaoli ( the people of the contrada). As tourists lined the streets to watch the processions which lead up to the historic cultural event they watched in amazement from the outside with the cameras in hand, and I as an American was in their pictures. I too was in amazement with the singing, parading, flag tossing and drumming but my amazement came through participation.
Submitted by Julie Guseman - Ohio State University | September 10, 2012
My experience in Siena during Summer 2012 was amazing and really gave me the opportunity to get immersed in the Italian culture. Staying with a host family really made me feel like a part of the community and gave me a chance to use my Italian in a real-life setting. The service opportunities in Siena also really gave me insight into the lives of the Sienese people. SIS took us on some great excursions and gave us the opportunity to see so many things in and around Siena, including the Palio, which was amazing. Our classes were laid back but very interesting. I felt like all of the experiences I had with SIS really helped me to gain confidence in my Italian skills while learning so much about the Italian culture. Overall, this was an amazing summer and an incredible first time in Italy. I wish I could have stayed longer!
Submitted by MBL - University of Colorado - Boulder | June 26, 2012
Enjoyed all my experiences with SIS!
Inspirational... an opportunity not to be missed!
Submitted by Stephen Sudano - Siena College | May 09, 2012
Siena Italian Studies was a paramount part of my collegate experience. Fall 2008 was my first time in Europe, and coming from Italian discent, I was very excited. The program exceded every expectation. I got to know my peers very well and traveled a buch with them. My classes were intimate, fun, and valuable. Although immersion may be rigorous at times, in hindsight it was a transformative experience that has made a lasting impression. My time spent living in Siena, Italy while studying with this expert group proved to be an invaluable and irreproducible experience.
I leaned such wonderful things in class as a direct result of the small groups of students and discussion-based lessons taught exclusively in Italian.
My host family was so warm and encouraging. I was consistently surprised and delighted by their charisma, engagement and joy. They made me feel like part of the family.
Authentic. It was equally as intense as it is rewarding. This is no Mickey Mouse operation. This place is real. They people are real. The best kept secrets of everything Tuscan / Italian are shared openly. Nothing has really come close to my semester at SIS.
Wonderful people. It was obvious that everything was thought-out, planned and executed keeping in mind theory and academic goals. I still keep in touch and have already visited once since. I'll certainly be back again. They made a lasting impression on me.
SIS was the best decision that I ever made.
Submitted by Trevin Stahly - Montana State University | May 09, 2012
My time at SIS was incredible. I ate great food, learned about the language and culture, saw awesome places, and made amazing friends. Siena is a gorgeous Tuscan town, and the program gives you a great mix of organized excursions and free time to travel on your own. The professors and staff will become your friends, and they truly care about you and your experience.
Amazing Gap Year Experience
Submitted by Spencer - | May 09, 2012
Amazing way to spend half of my gap year. I got to learn so much Italian and make some life long friends. All of the staff, professors, and other students were absolutely amazing. I cannot say enough great things about my experience!
The most unforgettable experience I have ever had.
Submitted by Hayley Samela - | May 09, 2012
This program is well structured, the host families are amazing; it really is experiencing Italian culture at its best. I made lifelong friends from across the country, Siena's central location gave me the ability to travel anywhere, and the program coordinators/professors are the friendliest, most helpful, warm people. I really had the best experience studying in Siena, Italy.
Overall wonderful Italian immersion program
Submitted by Matthew - University of Southern California | March 03, 2012
My study abroad experience was one of the best times of my life.
I stayed with a host family who lived 10 minutes walking distance from the nearest bus stop in the Tuscan hills. The location and the relationships I built with my host dad (Mauro) and host mom (Lella) were something out of a movie. The house was this big villa overlooking several farms. Lella cooked excellent and authentic Italian meals. I gained 5-7 pounds during my 4 month stay there.
Every single need was met by the admin. They were responsive and competent. The instructors treated us like family. I got close with each and every one of them.
The town of Siena is a quaint little place with immense personality and character. My study abroad experience would not have been the same if it were in any other city. Siena was just right in terms of size, geography relative to other parts of Italy, and people.
The Italian language portion was quite good. The other courses weren't as serious but who does a study abroad program in Italy for the coursework.
Submitted by Nicholas Cicchetti - Siena College | March 01, 2012
I tell people that my experiences in Siena, facilitated by Siena Italian Studies, was the best time of my life. I was exposed to different places, people, foods, language, and ways of living. All this could have been a daunting experience without Siena Italian Studies. They set me up with a wonderful host family, gave a comprehensive tour of Siena, and taught me the language well enough in all of about 3 weeks so that I could make my way around the Siena and the country. A must for anyone who truly wants the full Italian experience.
Great Program All Around
Submitted by ctragni - Ohio State University | February 29, 2012
SIS is a really wonderful experience in Italy. I had never taken Italian, and was in a technical field at school so the language and cultural classes at SIS were something new for me. The teachers were all very knowledgeable and helpful. They go beyond just teaching a subject, and really get to know the students. The host families are amazing - I immediately felt like I had a new family in Italy, and I still keep in touch with them to this day! The activities and travel with the program are great, and I especially liked the volunteering aspect of SIS. Overall, the people at SIS are doing a fantastic job giving students in Siena a memorable experience.
Submitted by camilla - Smith College | February 29, 2012
Siena Italian Studies was fantastic in all areas. The people make it incredibly fun and constantly hilarious, the academics are in-depth and personalized, and the setting couldn't be better. If you're looking for an authentic experience abroad as well as a great time, this is a stellar choice.
Submitted by nb797 - Swarthmore College | February 29, 2012
If you are looking for a cultural immersion program, awesome food, great teachers, an excellent program director, and to learn another language, SIS cannot be beat. I had the best time and learned so much Italian, about Italy, and about myself. It is one of the things I am most happy I did during college. It can be challenging - immersion is difficult at first, but it is well worth it. I highly recommend this program to everyone I know.
Classes were awesome. Having things taught in Italian was a challenge at first, but I was amazed how fast I learned. My teachers were knowledgeable and dedicated.
I loved my host family. I still keep in touch with my host mom after 6 years. I consider her like family.
You are totally immersed in it - speaking Italian, living with a host family. It was great.
Lavinia and Roni are amazing.
SIS is the best Italian program!
Submitted by hlear - University of Georgia | February 28, 2012
I loved, loved this program. If you want to experience Italy and learn Italian, this is the program you need to go on. Stop looking at the other ones and email Siena Italian Studies right now.
If you want to learn Italian, this is a great program. You are fully immersed in the language and they give you specialized help depending on your language level.
I loved my host family! They were so nice and helpful with anything and everything. Living with a host family is definitely the best way to live on study abroad.
The staff at SIS give you so many opportunities to experience the culture in Italy, first of all by living with a family and also through trips, events and tours around the city. I was there for the summer semester, so I got to experience the Palio like a local, which is the most Sienese thing you could ever experience.
This program is the one for you.
Submitted by gsbaetti - University of Georgia | February 28, 2012
Picking Siena Italian Studies was the best decision I could have made. The program was filled with students from universities across the U.S., most of which I am still extremely close with today. The complete cultural immersion was the best way to improve my Italian speaking skills and understanding of this amazing little town in Tuscany.
This programs rocks so much...
Submitted by thechrisreid - University of Georgia | February 28, 2012
... that I had it tattooed on my ribcage!
In all seriousness, I had the time of my LIFE studying abroad in Siena a few years ago. Being an Italian major, the program was PERFECTLY suited to my degree requirements and the professors were amazing. Classes are very project-oriented and there were so many cultural immersion activities that they all blur together.
I'll try to paint a picture for you:
Tuscan hillsides. Medieval palaces. Amazing dinners with host families. Hot-spring spas. Opportunities to volunteer locally. Wine tastings. Vineyard tours.
I could go on and on, but I don't want to lose your attention. I met some of the coolest people in my life doing this program, and I'm certain that I'll stay in touch with them forever.
People always ask if I have any regrets about studying abroad, and unfortunately, I do: I regret only studying abroad for a summer instead of an entire semester! Seriously, if you have the opportunity, DO NOT PASS UP THIS PROGRAM! It will show you a side of Italy that you will not otherwise be able to experience.
Submitted by Red1990 - Montana State University | February 28, 2012
If I could do it again I would! They are such a fantastic group of people with a love of their culture and sharing it.
I wish there were more class options :) But the ones they offer are fantastic
The host families are warm and welcoming!
Health and Safety:
I always felt really safe walking around Siena. I never felt particularity unsafe. I always did worry about forgetting my house keys though.
Submitted by KaylaO - Siena College | February 28, 2012
Loved this program. I am kind of shy but everyone there made me feel welcome. Opportunities there are awesome and the classes are not bad at all! I am really wanting to go back right now!
If I could do it again, I'd do it at least 3 more times.
Submitted by bekahfaye - University of Georgia | February 28, 2012
I went on the SIS program in the Fall of 2010, and loved it so much that I had to stay for the Spring of 2011. I loved everything about it, from the staff, who were more than encouraging and uplifting, to the host families, who were experienced and welcoming, to the food, which was the best I've ever had, to the classes, which taught me more Italian than I thought I'd ever learn. As one would expect, I was nervous leaving the country for the first time alone, and going to live with a host family that didn't speak English. It didn't take long before I got comfortable with everything because of the efforts of the staff, and my host parents had hosted many American students before me, so even when I didn't know what I was doing, they did. And the entire Italian culture is just so laid back, that I couldn't help but feel at ease. The classes were interesting, the teachers knowledgeable and attentive. My favorite part of the entire experience was the evening dinners with my host parents. My first semester host parents were alive during the second world war, and when they took an evening to share with me their memories of that time, I knew I'd made one of the best choices I could have made for the advancement of my college experience by choosing SIS. Where else would I have had that one of a kind conversation? Where else would I have taught English to Italian 3rd graders? Where else could I have learned so much Italian so quickly? See so much Art? Try so many different foods? Surely no other program offers such diverse opportunities all in one program. I would recommend SIS to everyone and that you go with an open mind and a will to try and experience new things. Given the opportunity, I'd choose SIS time and time again. My time with them has really changed me as a person, as well as my life.
My area of study included both Italian and art history, and the staff made an effort to work with the needs of my major requirements for my university, which was very much appreciated.
Living with host parents that didn't speak English was probably one of the best features of the program - it makes you use the Italian you're learning, which I've found more effective than any other method of learning a foreign language. I enjoyed my host family and still write them now that I'm back in the States.
With SIS you're immersed in the language and culture, but can dive as deep into it as you please. The city of Siena itself, along with the staff of SIS, provide many opportunities to delve even farther into the local culture. There are volunteer opportunities, musical events, festivals, etc.
The staff is like a family, they communicate well and they have very useful resources. They make it a priority to help their students and I always felt that I could approach them about anything from host family topics to grades to extra curricular activities. They're welcoming and open, and one of the most involved staff I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Health and Safety:
Siena is so safe - I felt completely comfortable walking around at night by myself.
You get to know your fellow students pretty well, but also get the chance to get to know locals, especially through language partners and volunteering.
Submitted by mvisconsi - | February 28, 2012
I wish I could go again! SIS was the best program with the best people. It really improved my Italian language skills. Also, the administration was very involved which really enhanced the experience.