Deciding between the CET- Florence or the CET- Siena program was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. I was very tempted by the comfortable atmosphere that Florence would provide me with because of the immense American presence in the city. Siena is a small city where waiters, waitresses, and shop owners actually speak to you in Italian, even though they may be able to tell you are not Italian. The streets are not crowded with another 700 study abroad students, but rather with many Italian university students and Sienese families. Siena still has an extremely lively and fun young population, but you don't hear English at every corner you turn as one does in Florence.
Saying I made the right decision is an understatement. I truly cannot express how grateful I am for the CET-Siena program. I made lifelong relationships with my host mom, teachers, and friends, and I look forward to my return to Siena. There was something incredibly special about the small program size, which allowed all of us students to get to know each other extremely well. We joked that we were a family, but after four months of seeing each other all day, every day, that is truly what we became. I woke up every morning excited to get to school and see everyone, and I hated saying goodbye in the evenings or nights, even though I knew I would wake up the next morning and see them all again.
It was very clear that the teachers and the program director, Vicky, loved their jobs and were passionate about what they were teaching us. Although I found Siena to be a much less stressful environment than the University life in the States, I still learned just as much, if not more. I found a unique excitement to learn here in Siena and in the CET program in particular. Although we were allowed a certain number of hours to miss class (that were appealing mostly because of having extra days to travel) students didn't use them. In fact, I know many students that did not miss a single class because they didn't want to. Just like everything else in the program, classes were FUN.
If you want a completely immersive experience in terms of communicating with locals, practicing and learning/improving your Italian, and experiencing more authentic taste of Italian food culture, Siena is the place for you.