CET Siena

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About

CET Siena is for those who want to dive in to the Italian lifestyle. Take one or two semester's worth of Italian language. Electives in economics, international relations, history of art, studio art, film, literature, politics, and more provide the chance to immerse in Italian culture or to fulfill major requirements. You'll practice your Italian outside the classroom, where it counts. Visit a contrada to learn about the Palio horserace one day. Head to Florence to see Michelangelo’s David and the Medici chapels the next. Local roommates or homestays and a faculty-led Traveling Seminar open additional windows to the local landscape. University of Virginia oversees academics, making this program a good fit for serious students of all majors and Italian language levels. Students from all colleges and universities are welcome.

Highlights
  • Traveling Seminar to Sicily
  • Out-of-classroom learning & assignments
  • Option for 1 or 2 semester's of Italian language
  • Live in homestay with a local family or an apartment with an Italian roommate
  • Elective offerings in both English and Italian

Questions & Answers

The program had no classes that were specifically geared toward education, but the year I went (2014) we were all given the opportunity to teach English to Italian elementary school students. This would be great experience for a teaching major. Otherwise, the program was focused on Italian language, history, politics, art, and architecture. So humanities-based in general, which of course is great...

Reviews

92%
based on 21 reviews
  • Academics 7.1
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.4
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 15 of 21
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Alexandra
10/10

The best semester of my college career

CET Siena has all the basics you might be looking for: a supportive and incredibly kind teaching and administrative staff, immersive language learning, amazing homestay opportunities, etc. What really made my semester incredible was how everyone in the program went above and beyond what was required to make me feel comfortable and also to help me explore Siena and Europe! The environment was incredibly supportive, and I made amazing friends and learned so much about Italian culture and the language!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Emma
9/10

Siena Summer Study Abroad 2018

The CET Siena study abroad program is organized very well. The staff is extremely supportive and caters to your every need as well as offering helpful tips. The teachers were very attentive and due to the small class sizes they were able to personalize each course towards the level of their students. In fact, every student improved drastically in Italian. I also really enjoyed my Sienese Art and Architecture course since it offered historical background on the local Sienese culture.
Siena is a great town to study abroad in since its small size allowed us to actually explore the whole city on foot and by the end of the two months we all knew our way around. The location in Tuscany makes it a perfect place to do day trips from and explore the surrounding beautiful rolling hills. Also, the tuscan food is superb, we even learned how to make pasta from scratch in our cooking class. Another fun activity that CET planned was a wine tasting course. However, the most important thing in Siena is the Palio. We waited in the piazza for 5 hours to watch the horse race, and it was worth it.
I stayed in an apartment with 3 other college students and one local Italian student. I really enjoyed this set up since we had our own kitchen and a large living room to hang out in. Living with an Italian student allowed me to practice my Italian and it offered an authentic view on Sienese culture.
The program was organized perfectly since classes were only Monday through Thursday, allowing for many weekend trips. For instance, I traveled to the Amalfi coast, Cinque Terre, Elba, Capri, London, the Alps, Milan, Bologna, and Lake Como. From Siena it was easy to hop on a bus or train and explore the nearby tourist attractions. The traveling was tiresome but it was so enjoyable traveling in groups with new friends and exploring foreign cities.
Overall, I highly recommend this program. Not only are the teachers great but the CET staff is super supportive and Siena is the perfect study abroad town.

How can this program be improved?
This program could be improved by adding more group get togethers especially at the beginning of the trip in order for everyone to meet since I feel like some of the homestay students were often left out. Also, it would be helpful to show the students the main modes of transportation, the train station and piazza Gramsci for the buses.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emma
9/10

CET Siena Summer

I studied in Siena through CET Academic Programs for the summer of 2018, and it was by far the best summer of my life. Siena is an incredibly unique city, unlike anywhere else I've ever been. Big enough to feel like a city but small enough to feel like home, the sense of community in Siena abounds. Although I wasn't a local, by the end of my two months there I came to feel like I belonged as I saw the same familiar faces in the park each morning and at my favorite cafe's and shops. The most amazing part was to see my Italian improve as I became more and more comfortable conversing with the friendly locals.
The academics in Siena were also amazing. My teachers there were honestly the best that I've ever had. Class sizes were small so I formed close relationships with my teachers. My Italian professor was incredibly passionate about teaching and making sure we were happy and successful. My elective was Sienese Art History, taught by another dedicated and passionate professor, and our field trips to see the artwork we studied allowed a connection between the classroom and my life in Siena that was absolutely priceless. The head staff at CET were always cheerful and attentive to each of us, always striving to make sure we were having a wonderful time.
Siena is honestly such a wonderful place. Between the Piazza del Campo, the beautiful city square where one can relax and study by day and come to socialize by night, the experience of the Palio horse race and the sense of community held by each contrada, my cherished morning runs at the fortress (a park with amazing views of the city and countryside), the stunning Duomo in the heart of the city, the endless gelato, and the overall safety and comfort that I felt in this city, coming back to Siena after a weekend exploring the rest of Italy felt like coming home.

How can this program be improved?
Absolutely no room for improvement!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Stephanie
10/10

The best four months of my life

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.

How can this program be improved?
It can't, it was perfect!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Olivia
10/10

An immersive and enriching experience

First, if you're deciding between CET's Florence and Siena programs, I highly recommend Siena for a more "Italian" and less chaotic experience. I had done study abroad three times prior to CET Siena program and can honestly say that this was the most immersive, authentic semester for me. I stayed with a host family (Luigina & Giorgio) and my Italian improved remarkably thanks to them. We had our routine - every evening we had dinner around 7:30 and watched our usual TV programs, and when the weather was nice we would eat on the terrasse. There is less temptation to spend money and fly to another country every weekend on the Siena program than on the Florence program because there is no airport in Siena. On the weekends instead I did a lot of train travel to other towns in Italy and I could not recommend that enough. I am terribly sad the semester is over and already planning when to return. I don't feel that I did an American study abroad program in Siena for a semester, I feel that I actually lived in Siena for four months. I have friends and family and a life there, and that to me is the whole point. Go to Siena and learn about their charming and unique and profound culture. It is the opportunity of a lifetime, I promise.

About CET specifically -

The school is right in the center of the city, a short and beautiful walk from no matter where you live. The professors and director, Vicky, as well as the Italian student staff, are all wonderful. They become your friends. The classes are serious and interesting (with a lot of trips to see things in person), and you actually learn more information in a more wholesome way than you would on campus for a semester. It doesn't feel like school though, it feels like "how did I get so lucky!" everyday. The Italian language, art history, and inter-cultural communications classes are splendid. Teachers teach with passion and students are engaged. There is also a trip to Palermo and Catania, Sicily. We did walking tours of the cities and their markets, a mafia tour, a food tour, went to the beach, had dinner with Sicilian students, and stayed in lovely hotels. I truly cannot think of one thing I would change about the CET Siena program... I already wish I could go back.

How can this program be improved?
It can't!
Yes, I recommend this program
Owen
10/10

CET Siena: Spring 2018

CET Siena has been my favorite experience of college so far. If you are looking to have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a smaller Italian city, this is the program for you. All of the teachers and staff of CET are some of the most helpful people I have met. It is clear that they care about the students and want them to succeed. CET Siena is an extremely positive atmosphere, that caters to the individual students on a personal level, and at the end of the three and a half months, you won't want to leave! I highly recommend a homestay if you would like to practice a lot of Italian, all of the host families are wonderful and you cannot go wrong. I highly recommend this program!

How can this program be improved?
I don't think it can be
Yes, I recommend this program
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Maria
10/10

Beautiful Program and People

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with CET Siena for the Spring 2018 semester. The people, both staff and other students, made my time in this program absolutely delightful. The program manager, Vicky, was a delight to work with. She helped all of use if we ever needed it, and was always supportive of our wants and needs. Each professor that I had was amazing. They really cared about us as people and about our academics. They were all very engaging in our courses and very approachable. The courses themselves were at a challenging level that I was looking for in a study abroad program. They were challenging enough to make me know that I was still working hard enough and learning many new things. Yet, they were not overwhelming or super stressful, so that I could also enjoy my free time to travel around Italy on the weekends and get to know Siena better during the week. I must say, however, that the other students definitely helped increase the ambivalence of the ambiance that was set up by the staff. I think this is an excellent program for studying abroad, but the other students do make it or break it. I would still recommend this program for anyone interested about learning Italian, specifically Sienese, culture and art. Many if not all courses are also very interactive and many times hands-on.

How can this program be improved?
I am not entirely sure what I would improve about the program. Perhaps, just the course selection process at the beginning of the semester. For the Siena program there was no option to change classes once the semester began. I know that there was some confusion and a little bit of frustration because the process was not well-explained. Neither were the Italian class options (taking one semester versus two semesters of Italian language). Better direct communication before class selection would have been nice, but also explaining or removing the incapacity for an add/drop period. Even if it was just 1-3 days at the beginning, would be appreciated.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Caitlin
8/10

Siena

My time in Siena this summer was incredible. I loved waking up and starting my day with a cappuccino or expresso from down the street. After the bar, classes started at 9 and then by 12:30 I was out finding an authentic lunch down a random street or cooking in my apartment. On Wednesdays there was a big market with fresh vegetables and fruits and some of the best baked chicken. I was only a short walk from the campo where much of the tourist would crowd during the day, but then by night all the locals would be having an aperitivo or dinner later. Siena was a great place to study abroad for me, because I really wanted an authentic experience. Siena had tourists, but for the most part they only were on a day trip to the city. Also many of the shop owners and waitresses would speak Italian with us to allow us to apply the skills we were learning in class. However, I noticed this was not always the case in other places we travelled to in Italy, therefore Siena was a great choice. Classes were Monday through Thursday with an exception of one or two Fridays which was very helpful when traveling. Because of the longer weekend, I was able to travel to Budapest, Amsterdam, Capri, Venice, Cinque Terre, and many other little towns or cities. This was amazing because I was able to compare cultures to the Sienese culture I was living in everyday. I would highly recommend this program if you are looking to learn a lot through classes and then be able to use your knowledge out on the streets in your free time.

How can this program be improved?
The only critique of the program would be the living situation. I wish I had lived with fewer americans and more Italians. I felt that five american girls to one Italian girl was not as immersed as I had hoped for by living with an Italian student.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Isabella
10/10

An unforgettable summer

This summer in Siena with CET was everything I could ask for and more. Siena is a great place to be, especially during the summer. It's a small enough city that I was able to feel adjusted in only two months without running out of new places to explore. I loved being a part of the preparations for Palio, including a contrada dinner and tour organized by CET. My professors were great and I especially enjoyed the excursions part of my Sienese Art and Architecture class. My Italian class helped me reach a new level of confidence speaking Italian and taught me a lot about the culture of Siena and Italy. I loved being able to travel on the weekends and even got to connect with some relatives in Italy. My Italian roommate Giada is the sweetest person ever and it was great having the opportunity to learn about each other's cultures.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Margot
10/10

An experience to give you a different perspective

Leaving my business focused university for a semester in Siena could not have been a better decision. In Siena, I took classes on cultural topics that were a huge change from my classes in the USA. I experienced the art, language and culture everyday in and out of class.

The everyday pace of life was also such an important change. It is easy to get wrapped up in the due dates and academic piece of college, but being able to slow down and enjoy life in Siena was wonderful. The food is fresher, there are fewer cars, the history is richer...

This experience did not, however, make me resent my school back in America; it gave me a better perspective. I am now back at school and I keep pieces of Siena with me. Whether it is walking down the street a little slower without looking at my phone, taking the time to cook a fresh meal, or joining the Italian club at school. CET Siena has given me a better perspective for which I am forever grateful.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Avery
10/10

Un Giorno In Paradiso

I would never stop talking if I tried to cover all the amazing stories and memories that I have from studying abroad with CET in Siena. The people involved with the program made all of these memories possible, and I will never forget the impact that they have had on me and as cliche as it may sound, I am a changed person because of this summer. The food, the friends, the teachers, the events, all contributed to my ever growing love of Italy, which now could be deemed as an unhealthy obsession. However, one day in particular will always stick with me as the most incredible day of my life. Myself and three other girls ventured to a castle for a wine tasting early in the morning, which had the most breathtaking view of the tuscan countryside (Castello di Poppiano). After a blissful morning there full of great wine and appetizers (including home made cantucci, which you will love if you go), we took an impromptu trip to Florence to stop in a leather store called Sabani. Marco, the shop owner, immediately offered us wine as soon as we walked in the store, which just added to the intoxicating smell of leather. After 5 hours of what was supposed to just be a quick "stop-in", we left with copious amounts of beautiful leather goods, full from tons of free pizza, more wine, some espresso, and a beautiful new friendship. This is and always will be my paradise, but not just because I was treated like a princess, but because this day truly represents everything I love about Italy: the generous and friendly people, the amazing food and wine, and Italians' love of life and spontaneity. I only got to experience my paradise because of CET and the unforgettable people I met, so all I can say is go, and find your own paradise.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change about this program would be the amount of work done within the classroom. I would have loved to have class outside or to have spent less time inside the classroom, however I do understand that it is study abroad and not just vacation. Everything else I would never change if possible. I hope everyone gets a chance to experience a summer like I did with CET in Siena.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emma
6/10

Small City: Feel the Love

CET Siena was an amazing, extremely unique experience. My homestay was the best part of my four months in Italy-- I lived with a single grandmother and she was amazing. All of the people in my program were EXTREMELY happy with their homestays and I highly recommend doing a homestay. HIGHLY. LIKE DO IT. DO IT!

My program was very small, unfortunately. There were only five of us-- but this isn't always the case. Next semester there are 17 people! Yet Siena is definitely small. This means that compared to the programs in Florence you will actually learn Italian and use it every day! It also means you can walk everywhere, and that at times, the social scene isn't that big or easy to find. It's also hard because there are very few Americans studying abroad in Siena, so most of the people you meet will speak only Italian.

The CET staff was great, very helpful and always there to help out with all questions. The teachers were overall pretty good-- some of the classes are long (like 3 hours), but the homework wasn't overwhelming. The Italian teachers are AMAZING, the best language teachers I've EVER EVER had.

How can this program be improved?
Have more people enrolled in the program.. reach out to us more for social things on the weekends... plan more out-of-class activities
Yes, I recommend this program
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Casey
10/10

CET Siena Summer 2014

There is nothing I could say badly about this program. I was placed with my good friend from school In a home stay, with Stella, the most amazing Italian woman and basically my second mother at this point. The food was incredible, the wine delicious, the people were wonderfully friendly, and the city is remarkably beautiful. The group of students becomes very tight-knit and we would do everything together. We traveled on weekends, relaxed In the piazza, or just did our homework or had Italian movie nights together. The professors all deeply cared about not only our academic progress but our personal comfort and happiness as well. We would often meet them outside of class just to grab a snack or to chat about current events. Siena is a vibrant city with so much local culture and history to offer if you're open to branching out and experiencing it. Not to mention, they have some of the best pizza and pasta I've ever had in my life.. If you're presented the opportunity to study here, do not say no.

Response from CET Academic Programs

Thank you for taking the time to post this positive and thorough review of CET Siena! It sounds like you appreciated all aspects of the program: the location, our housing arrangements, the classes, our incredible professors, our dedicated staff and the overall feel of the program.

We are glad you said "YES!" to studying abroad with CET in Siena!

Sarah Dixon; CET Academic Programs; [email protected]

Yes, I recommend this program
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Karen
10/10

The Most Memorable

CET in Siena is an incredible program. Not only are the academics rigorous with wonderful teachers, but the housing situations are also fantastic. The resident director, Christina, is also extremely knowledgeable about basically everything, and she is always so willing and available to help with anything, be it buying bus tickets to Naples or where to find a good pair of jeans in Siena.

I chose the homestay option for my semester, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I had an American roommate from my program, and we lived with an Italian woman who had a grown son and a 4-year-old grandson. My host mother was an incredibly sweet woman who really took the time to make sure we felt right at home, and she was also a fantastic cook! We had breakfast and dinner together every night and listened to her tell incredible stories about her life and Siena.

Siena itself is a wonderful city. Since it isn't as big as one of the major cities like Florence or Rome, there are less people that speak English and you are able to use Italian every day, in shops, the market, and just on the streets. Don't worry though if you are just beginning to learn Italian - Italians are so helpful and they'll understand if you get some words or grammar wrong, and many people have a basic understanding of English. However, don't be afraid to use your Italian! The locals love it when you make an effort to speak their language. Siena is also so full of rich history, and I loved how I was able to learn about the city's past by just walking around the streets. There are a LOT of hills though - so be sure to bring good comfortable walking shoes! The food in Siena is incredible, my favorite restaurant was Fonte Giusta however La Mossa is a close second so I would recommend trying both of them!

Classes with CET are great and while I really enjoyed all my classes, I still wish there had been more of a selection of classes. However, it is understandable since there were only five students in my study abroad group. Each student takes an Italian Language class - I had only one other student in my class so it was great to have real one-on-one experience with the professor, a native Italian. Each student also is required to take the Italian Cultural History class, and this offered a really interesting perspective on Italy and how its past influences its present and future. Then each student takes two electives, I took a class on Sienese Art & Architecture and also one on Etruscan and Roman Art & Architecture. Both teachers were very passionate about the material and really enjoyed teaching - it was obvious how much they cared about their students.

The CET Siena program is an absolutely incredible program and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. If you're looking for an experience that is unique, intimate and off the beaten path, then look no further than CET Siena.

How can this program be improved?
More class selections.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Cassie
10/10

The Sweetest Thing

My favorite travel quote is "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." I made a rather impromptu decision during my senior year at Vanderbilt to study abroad because I realized that I had been "stuck" in the same blah-humdrum chapter, and desperately needed to turn to the next page. I was drawn to Siena, Italy specifically because I always had a sneaking suspicion that Italians had an undeniable love of life (this is, afterall, the country where talking with your hands is a sign of passion, and basically their honorary second official language); and there, under the Tuscan sun, loving life is contagious. Pretty soon, I was savoring and indulging in every little innocuous moment, enjoying friendships, and developing a rather spirited palate for all the sweeter things in life. And most important, taking time to simply BE where I was.

If you are looking for a world-class, yet quaint, off-the-beaten path Italian experience, then this program is for you. Of course, Italy boasts cities like Florence, Venice, Milan and Rome-which are admittedly very beautiful-but take my advice: For inspiration, sometimes you must look beyond the bestseller list; (this goes for cities as well; as you will soon discover, even the most obscure cittadine in Italy hold a hidden, special treasure so NEVER turn down the opportunity to travel). Though Siena is a less well-known city, there are many perks to CET's "History of Art and Italian Studies" Program such as : accelerated Italian language courses that cover one year of Italian in a semester, ample opportunities for immersion including language parterns, academic traveling seminars, local roommates, and volunteer placements. The combination of these factors have allowed me to achieve proficiency in oral and written Italian, to demonstrate a deep understanding of the history of Italian literature and culture, and to develop and awareness of the ways Italian Studies intersects with other disciplines.

I think it's only right that I begin my review of CET Siena's "History of Art and Italian Studies" with the backbone and soul of the program: Christina Angellili, the Resident Director. She will be your point of reference for any problems, questions, or concerns you may have and will help you to get settled in Siena. She's very approachable and accommodating. I'm tempted to say that just having her as the RD of Siena should quell any doubts you may have about the program. From buying tickets for class excursions, to teaching you phrases in Italian, to 4am emergency room visits, Christina will always be there for you. It's her job, but you can tell that she genuinely cares about the students.

The major complaint about thsi program is that the class selections are too few. When I was there this Spring, there were 6 classes offered: Italian Cinema (3 hours), Etruscan and Roman Art (3 hours), European Banking System (3 hours), Sienese Art and Architecture (3 hours) Italian Cultural History (4 hours, mandatory for all), and Italian Language (6 hours, mandatory for all; levels Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced). Each student takes 4 classes for a total of 16 hours. The Italian Language course can be demanding for some, but if you want to pursue graduate study in Italian, or learn Italian well enough to successfully live there, then this course will prepare you if you take it seriously. For example, I was the only student in my Italian Langauge course-initially, this made me uneasy but there invaluable benefits to CET's small class sizes: 1) you get the most personal academic attention possible, 2) being the only student in class, the course was taught at my pace, and 3) I had a stellar participation grade, go figure! There was no competition ;-) I did not particularly enjoy the Italian Cultural History course, but it had more to do with the teaching style of the professor (who no longer works for CET) more than the material being studied. Etruscan and Roman Art and Italian Cinema were great, I learned a lot!

Some of my projects, presentations, essays etc. included Hadrian and the Classical Revival 117-138AD, A Comparison of De Sica's "Ladri di Biciclette" and Fellini's "La Dolce Vita," Storie di immigrazione, discriminazione razziale e cittadinanza in Italia, Race Relations, Family and InterMarriage in Italy, and the final essay on our traveling seminar to Catania. Trips to museums, libraries and archives around Italy helped to complete research. Each project was a final essay, or an oral exam conducted in Italian only, or a combination of both.

Traveling around Italy, and Europe in general is relatively cheap. A bus ticket from Siena to Florence cost about 8 euro. To reach cities like Bologna, Milan or Rome, tickets can range between 20-45 euro, but hostels can surprisingly be really cheap ranging between 15-20 euro per person (but I've stayed in cheaper). Italians are VERY hospitable, so if you have friends in a particular city, they will usually (in my experience) be happy to host you and show you around their city! So traveling around Italy can be easy and a non-hassle if you're smart and proactive about your departure from Siena. The Chianti Region is only 45 minutes away from Siena. CET organized a trip to Castello di Brolio so we were able to tour a 12th century castle and enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting together. Likewise, getting around Siena is a breeze and you can walk just about anywhere from class at the CET Center, to restaurants (Fonte Giusta was my favorite), to bars and pubs (try Barrone Rosso, Bar Corsa or La Diana), to the train and bus station (which are just outside the city walls, and in Piazza Gramsci, respectively), to La Fortezza (well-preserved fortress where students go to practice yoga, run, dance....also, good news for night runners:there are usually people there until about 9pm...as you will soon discover, Italians do everything a bit later...including eat dinner, YIKES), and of course to Piazza del Campo where you can meet tons of university students, have aperitivi, and grab a gelato and relax on days when you need it most.

If you are worried about the language barrier, you can take comfort in the fact that you will have access to English speaking doctors, psychiatrists, services etc. should you need them. But generally, as long as Italians can tell you're making a genuine effort to speak the language, you'll be fine, at worst-you'll learn that albero genealogico and albero ginecologico are NOT the same thing, and at best-you'll get a good laugh a make a friend (story of my life there).

I was lucky enough to experience Italy for the first time with what I would call a group of...eccentric intellectuals...there were only 6 American students which ended up working out perfectly for our group. I and another American girl stayed in an apartment with three other Italian students from the Unviersity of Siena, while the other four students stayed in two separate homestays. Our apartment was bigger than I expected. I shared a bedroom with my American roommate and the Italian roommates had their own bedrooms, and we all shared two bathrooms. I thought I would be missing out on something by choosing an apartment instead of a homestay, and as hokey as it sounds, I really grew to know my Italian flat mates as my "host family." We went on adventures, connected, grew, and it was clear that everyone believed in good energy because, as you will soon discover, once you make a friend in Italy, they're your friend for life! :-)

Things you MUST take with you to Siena: any preferred or necessary medications (the farmacia may not carry your specific brand); an umbrella; international plug adapter; photocopies of your passport, visa, health insurance, or any other vital documets, etc; RELIABLE walking shoes (don't even board the flight to Italy without these); a debit card with a bank that doesnt charge international fees (check Charles Schwab or Capital One); at least 350 euro cash because the first week, you must pay a housing deposit fee and for your permesso di soggiorno (note: try to convert cash at home bankt to avoid high airport fees). AND last but not least? A sense of adventure, an open mind and a positive attitude!

There are at least three pre-set traveling outings set my the RD and the Italian roommates: to Viareggio's world famous Carnivale (so much fun), rock climbing, and a day trip to La Terme (basically a spa and pool facility). My favorite however was the traveling seminar to Catania with the Italian Cultural History course.

In Catania, we visited Libera`, an anti-mafia organization that confiscates land once owned by Mafia bosses and converts it into viable farmland. We picked oranges and lemons, and learned about the history of the Sicilian Mafia. Afterwards, we visited Museo dello Sbarco, which recounts the history of Italy under the Fascist regime. Later we visited the "Pupi Siciliani" Museum and were in for a real treat! The owner of the museum talked about how puppetry is connect to Sicilian culture and his own family, and he even performed for us! The best part? We got to come on stage and hold the puppets (BEWARE: some are over 100 pounds).

From volunteering to teach English at a local Siense elementary school, to to pushing my Italian to intermediate level, to to serving as a CET student correspondent, building lasting friendships and freshly off the most beautiful experience of my life, I understand the value of study abroad on a personal level, but on an academic level, as well.

CET Siena has provided the linguistic and cultural groundwork to proceed with my plans to pursue graduate education in Italian for the Fall of 2015; it inspired my Senior Thesis "Renaissance Humanism and the Arc of the Italian Chivalric Epic" and the confidence I built in Siena gave me the courage to return to Italy: I'm currently living and working in Manerbio, Italy at Mazzolar ITC teaching English with high school students through Dickinson College's SITE Program, and I'm in preparation for the B2 level CELI Italian Language Competency Exam at the Istituo Pacioli in Crema.

"E` stata veramente l'esperienza piu' bella della mia vita" is always my response when asked about my time in Siena. The city will always be in my heart because it and its people gave me experiences and memories, in 5 months, that I've dreamt of having for a lifetime. Even though I was thousands of miles away from home, I never felt more free, challenged, or at home than I was right then, right there. Now I can scratch "trust your instincts on new, exciting opportunities off of my life's bucket list! Grazie mille, CET.

How can this program be improved?
More class selections would be nice.
Yes, I recommend this program

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CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio...