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Siena Italian Studies Program
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Siena Italian Studies Program

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Best program out there

I spent a spring semester with Siena Italian Studies as a gap year student when I was 19 years old and I can tell you that this is the best study abroad program you can attend. I didn't know any Italian when I left for Siena and when I came back for college in the US I chose it as my major and received my degree in Italian Studies. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or already advanced in Italian, Siena provides the perfect setting for learning or improving your language skills. The teaching at Siena Italian Studies is also unmatched.

The Town of Siena
Siena is the perfect town in which to live. It is relatively small, which makes getting around town a breeze. The people of Siena are also extremely kind and always willing to help you out. Siena is absolutely beautiful and is in the center of Italy's best wine regions. The food and wine is unparalleled and the hospitality makes you feel right at home.

Host Families
SIS is well connected with many families that host the students. The program has had long relationships with all of the host families, so the families know how to handle exchange students very well. I loved living with my host family and they made me feel right at home. I still keep in touch with them constantly and visit when I can after six years. Host families are also extremely helpful in practicing Italian and learning more about Italian culture, things to do in Siena, etc.

Classes
The classes are very well taught and the course subjects are extremely interesting. I was able to take a business class that actually introduced me to the business school in Milan where I now attend. The language classes may seem like a lot, but it is all worth it. From knowing no Italian at the beginning, I was able to have detailed conversations with my host family near the end of the semester.

SIS Administration
Siena Italian Studies makes it extremely easy for students to get their visas, permit of stays, bus passes, etc. In fact, the organization pretty much takes care of everything. These processes are not very easy and now living in Milan and doing them myself, I can see how lucky I was to have had SIS take care of most of the administrative issues for me. As I said before, SIS is also extremely well connected with the Siena community, so if you have any opportunities or worries in mind, just ask them because I'm sure they will know someone in the town to help out!

Do not hesitate to study abroad with Siena Italian Studies. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Siena Italian Studies is the real deal

You really don't get any better than SIS. I was I their Siena program, and ever since I left I have been counting down the days until I can go back. I was never left with unanswered questions during the application and pre travel time. The pick up from the airport and transportation to Siena was flawless. Then my actual experience....I could go on and on about my time in Siena and that wouldn't be enough. It's a beautiful city full of beautiful people. The SIS staff was so helpful. I would recommend this program 11/10 times.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Community

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    8

Highly recommended

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 be able to go to contrada dinners and parties, etc.

I chose this program because I didn't have time for a full semester, and Siena Italian Studies was highly recommended for me by my advisers at Ohio State.

I lived with a host family outside the city of Siena. I had a roommate and two host parents. I felt very comfortable in the apartment that I lived in.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Highly recommended

So, I throughly enjoyed my two months in Siena, Italy. I would recommend the program to students who are not just looking for a vacation, but want to learn a decent amount about the language and culture of Italy.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    8

Best semester of my life

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.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    N/A

  • Living Situation

    N/A

  • Cultural Immersion

    N/A

  • Program Administration

    N/A

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

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Unforgettable Experience

My experience at SIS was so incredible that it now seems unreal. I was a bit weary leaving for Italy with only one semester of Italian under my belt, but the staff at SIS made the transition less stressful. Although speaking Italian was challenging at times, it was amazing how much I progressed in such a short period of time. The most indispensable part of the program was being able to live with host families. My experience would have never been the same without it. Not only did it help with learning Italian, but I honestly feel that I became a part of their family and will keep in contact for years to come. At times I was frustrated with the required courses other than Italian, but the fact that I was in Italy made me see the positive side of everything. The amount of work required outside of class was light, which allowed for more time to immerse ourselves in Italian culture through volunteering, traveling, going out, and spending time with our host families and friends. I wish I could stay in Siena forever!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

The best semester of college!

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.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

Fantastic Work.

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.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

challenging but exciting and rewarding

I had a blast adapting to the Italian culture. It was a shock, but that was expected. The longer I stayed the more I liked it! The school's professors are unique and work with you to make the most of your experience in Siena. I would return immediately to visit the cool places and hang out with the friends I made there. Definitely worth it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    9

A real "full immersion"

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.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

A program worth attending

This program does a great job of immersing students in the Sienese and broader Italian culture. If you put your best effort forward as a student of Italian and try to use the many opportunities around you on the program (the most important of which is your host family) to practice your Italian, you will learn an incredible amount. The Italian teacher I had did a fabulous job. Most of the staff at the program are helpful and passionate about what they are trying to do at SIS. Giovanni the art history professor for my semester is a wonderful resource for the program.

Academics:
If you are coming here to learn Italian then wonderful! You will learn a lot. All other academics are not very challenging and not that interesting. This is the weakest point of the program. Having said that, I don't think a study abroad program should necessarily be about academics. It is more about immersion and cultural exposure and experience which is what this program is great at.

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Academics

    2

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    4

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

Let's Be Students

Past the clichés often used to describe studying abroad, I do genuinely feel like the experiences of this time have genuinely enhanced the scope of how I can understand the world as a result of the change in perspective that I have been fortunate with which to experiment during my time hereFor all my experiences and observations discussed above, my approach throughout the semester has been that of a student. It is a role with which I am familiar, and is the role that I assumed I would be playing when I arrived in Italy. I didn’t expect to be taking a break from my studies – rather, I hoped to use my experience as a traveler as a supplement for continuing study.
To my surprise, the role of student was not the role emphasized here. Of course, we all took classes, and participated in the routine of study with which we were all familiar, but the all-consuming experience of scholarship that I encounter and love at college in the United States was simply not present or available here. I do understand that the limitations of place and academic institutions in Italy make it impossible for the same level of study to exist for me here. However, I do wish that I had spent this time, an eighth of my college career, in an environment that forced me to formulate my ideas carefully and support my ideas with the constructions that academia has in place to create civilized, intellectual discourse. In order for these constructions to be practiced, both sides of the discourse must recognize their validity and take them seriously, a reality that certainly was rarely the case here. I have had a remarkable experience, and do not wish to diminish everything that I have learned, but I do believe that if one is participating in higher education as a student, teacher, or administrator, he or she should take seriously the responsibility of exchanging ideas.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    7

Keep Working

The SIS program, from what it seems, has come very far from humble beginnings. However, I feel that the program has a long way to go still. Yes, they are better than most study abroad programs because of the atmosphere they create, which give family like values in a foreign country. However, they do not treat all of their students consistently, and do play favorites. The staff should not separate themselves further from the students, but maintain the same level of friendship with all students. One large way this can be achieved is by not allowing the student body gossip to influence the teachers perspectives. All teachers should be serious while in class with students, and aim for the goal of ALWAYS speaking Italian in order to help students earn the highest level of language development possible while abroad. The place where the language was LEAST spoken was within the SIS program and this should certainly not be the case. With a little more effort and constant support of the students, SIS can become the idealized goal they aim for.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    5

It Was Interesting For Sure.

I enjoyed this program very much. This program has a major focus on "cultural immersion." Because of this, I was still able to have a good time since I did not grow close to many of the students. I was on my own a lot of the time, so because of the focus on immersing, I was able to go out and meet other Europeans, and act more like a European. I also made friends from the service opportunities the school had. The program did a good job providing ways to become part of the culture, which I think is a major part of being abroad. The program truly helps you to grow as a person, whether or not you are alone.

Academics:
I learned fairly well in my classes that I took, but I was not offered the classes I wanted. Before becoming a part of this program, I saw the classes offered, and there were many I wanted to take. When I got to Italy, none of the ones I wanted were offered, and I ended up taking very few courses.

Living Situation:
I really wanted to live with a family, but I lived with one elderly woman, and another student in the program. I was a bit upset at first, but I did enjoy my time with her. My roommate did not. The other students absolutely loved their housing arrangements. Overall, the program did a good job putting the students into a welcoming home, but I believe they could still do better.

Cultural Immersion:
This was a primary focus of the program, and they did a very good job trying to get us to be a part of the Italian culture. We went on various trips to different cities which helped to learn about the culture.

Program Administration:
They were all very kind, and very knowledgable when it came to transportation, and any other question you may have. They were very helpful when it came to offering places to go, and how to get there.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

Loved it

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.

Living Situation:
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.

Social Life:
Definitely nothing like America and college life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

Time of my Life

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.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

The best experience of my life

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.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

An amazing experience in Italy

It's an amazing program in which students are able to become part of the Italian culture through a full immersion experience. I'd recommend Sienna b/c you live with a host family and the staff is very helpful. I learned a lot of Italian because of the home stay and because the staff was helpful.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

Un'estate bellissima!

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!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

Solid program.

Enjoyed all my experiences with SIS!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

New Family

This program caught my attention because of the home stays and high level of cultural emersion. What I was not expecting is the new family I would have, both with my host family, and the other students. Still to this day three years after I still talk to my family and friends I made doing this program! I truly felt a part of the culture of Siena Italy.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    N/A

Immersion Opportunities

I was looking for a program which allowed me to really see Italy and learn Italian. This program did just that. They offer all courses in Italian (even for beginners!) and ample opportunities to immerse. Through homestays and service opportunities (I taught English in the Elementary Schools), my Italian improved rapidly. Not only that, I felt like I was part of a community. Cannot say enough good things. This program really allows you to step outside your comfort zone, learn a new language, and see the world from a completely different perspective!

Academics:
I came in with about 1.5 yrs of Italian instruction and came away speaking Italian not fluently, but comfortably. I learned a ton during the Intensive Course (having only four students in my class meant I was able to practice a lot!). My only comment would be that because content courses are not separated by skill level, it can be difficult to find a language level which all the students understand. That being said, absolutely loved the two content courses I took (Emigration and Italian Cinema).

Living Situation:
I had two wonderful host brothers (7 and 10) and great parents! Living outside the city center was really no problem - buses are fairly simple!

Cultural Immersion:
I chose a small program and a small city so that I would be immersed and I was not disappointed at all! Siena and SIS allowed me to fully immerse.

Health and Safety:
Location wise - Siena is perfect! Very small and safe-feeling!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Inspirational... an opportunity not to be missed!

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.

Academics:
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.

Living Situation:
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.

Cultural Immersion:
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.

Program Administration:
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.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

SIS was the best decision that I ever made.

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.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Community

    N/A

From a parents view exceeded all expectations!

I sent my daughter to Italy with some trepidation, and all my fears were unfounded. She had a great time, learned so much and was safe the entire 4 months. Thanks SIS for giving my daughter a truly unique experience that she will never forget.