10 Top list for a Summer Abroad in Siena
Once upon a time, in 1979, there was a little program named China Educational Tours. It offered cultural trips to China for non-profit organizations, but it did not include any kind of academic credit for those who participated. In 1982 it extended its scope by teaming up with Wellesley College, and the tour included a language program to American students. Within 10 years, there were nearly 100 students participating each semester. In 1994, this growth resulted in the creation of the CET Academic Programs. Today, CET Academic Programs offers study abroad opportunities to American students in China, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Tunisia, and Vietnam!
In honor of the 30 year anniversary of CET, I compiled a “Top 10″ ranking of my activities/experiences in Italy. This could possibly be more difficult than the 6 page paper and 10 minute presentation I just finished! But, here’s my attempt:
- Venice/Murano – Venice is definitely not like anywhere else in Italy, but it has never been my favorite place because its so touristy. I enjoyed Murano and our exclusive look into the museum exhibit!
- Caribia Frappes – Caribia is our favorite gelatoplace, right off of the Campo. When we discovered that their frappes are to die for delicious, it was a regular meeting point after a long 7 hour class day.
- Our American 4th of July – The night our group all got together to celebrate that wonderful day of American Independence was definitely one of my favorite nights. We were all together, and even though we loved the culture and the country we were surrounded by, it was nice to remember where we come from and the things we love and miss about it.
- Capri & the Blue Grotto – I’ve always been a sucker for beautiful beaches, but the beauty of the Blue Grotto literally took by breath away. Then to lay out and swim on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world was not too shabby either.
- Rome – Rome was my favorite city I visited with my parents, and it does seem true that all roads lead to Roma. The history is just so rich, monuments so ancient, there’s a certain romance that even the medieval city of Siena is too new to have. Even getting lost in the streets of Rome was enjoyable!
- Cinque Terre – This was our first weekend excursion, and I loved every minute! The hike on La Via dell’Amore was beautiful and the weather was perfect for us. I had never been to a ‘beach’ that was only rocks, and I love pesto, so it was my kind of place!
- PG & our Sienese Art & Architecture class adventures – We’ve slowly discovered our SAA professor may be world-famous. Or definitely Italy famous, at least. He is just the most intelligent man, and he is hilarious. From the ‘spicy’ frescos he showed us, to all the ‘bullshit gossip’ time we had about the painters or the stories behind the art, it was a great time. I’ve never taken an Art History class before, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to again because it just won’t match up.
- Seeing Roberto Benigni live – After studying Benigni last semester, seeing him live had all the more excitement and significance! He was absolutely incredible, and I definitely want to see him again and continue to study his works.
- Renting a Tuscan Villa – The most relaxing weekend we had was in the Chianti Region of Tuscany. I don’t think we’ll ever know how we got that to work out, but it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. We spent the whole weekend by the pool in awe of how awesome our lives were.
- The Palio weekend – That was the weekend I saw the real Siena. I watched the city transform like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The Palio is life, the Palio is war, but even more so than that, the Palio is a time where Cantrade, families, friends, come together and unite to remember not only their personal histories, but the history of their home.
There are two things that just can’t be put on the top 10 because they are too important to me: Seeing my friends from Clarke County in Italy and my experience in my home stay with Sylvia. I am so grateful for the friendships I have had for all these years, and I will never forget how I met up with two of the coolest girls in the world in Italia! I also don’t have enough good things to say about Sylvia and my home-stay experience. I really believe my Italian improved so much because I was always speaking it at home, and I am grateful that Sylvia creates an atmosphere that is homey enough to not be worried about making mistakes and how she is always willing to answer my “Come si dice (insert word in Italian)?” or telling me about the little cultural nuances and history of Siena that only a native Sienese would know. I will miss the dinners she cooked and the discussions we had around the table, as well as our fusion of cultures on the nights Molly and I made food. Sylvia gave me a home here in Italy, and I will always be in her debt because of it!
So, in 2 months, I completed 3 classes and 9 credit hours, had many adventures, conversed in a new language, and made memories I’ll never forget! Now to go out with the group and celebrate!
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”