CET Siena

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CET Academic Programs, Italy, Siena
CET Academic Programs, Italy, Siena
CET Academic Programs, Italy, Siena
CET Academic Programs, Italy, Siena

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. Ideal for study abroad and Gap Year students.

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

93%
based on 23 reviews
  • Academics 7.2
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.5
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 23 of 23
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Karen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
More class selections.
Default avatar
Cassie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
More class selections would be nice.
Default avatar
Connor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Absolute Must

This past summer I spent two months in Siena, Italy and had an unforgettable time. I learned so much about not only the Italian language and culture, but also of actual Italian people themselves. I made it my goal to speak as much Italian as possible so I could interact with the locals and make new friends. Plenty of people speak English in Italy but I think that showing Italians that you can speak their language is a great way to start a friendship. I made many friends and even had the privilege of going and staying at two of their house's after the program was completed. It is not easy of course to get to a level where you feel completely immersed. True immersion and fluency take a long time and many people can get discouraged and revert back to English. I did this many times because it was the easy thing to do, but I found that when I really tried to speak Italian only, it became easier and going back to English became less common. I would encourage everyone studying abroad to speak the language as much as possible and try to meet local people. The friends I made in my program were fantastic, and I also made friends outside of it who were equally fantastic. Siena is a great place to live because, unlike Florence or Rome, it is a smaller, less tourist heavy town, and it feels like a more authentic Italian experience. The program was incredible and I already wish I could go back.

What would you improve about this program?
I think that the apartments were a little to heavy with Americans. I lived with five Americans and one Italian and I found I was almost always speaking language while at home. There was also not the largest selection of classes during the summer, which is understandable. I was in an Italian language class with three people who had taken one year more of Italian than I had.
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Mike
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience

Living in Siena, Italy was a life changing experience. The people, the food, the culture it really is hard to describe the extent of the experience in words. the support staff for the program, namely Christina, was always helpful and got us out of quite a few problems that we ran into on our adventures. Hiking Cinque Terre, visiting Paris, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Venice, Rome,etc was nothing short of incredible. I would highly suggest this program for anyone looking to learn the language of Italian or anyone who likes the beauty of Tuscany. I can't emphasize how lucky I feel to have gone to Italy and been a part of the program.

What would you improve about this program?
The class size could be much bigger and there could be more courses to take. There were only nine of us in the program which turned out OK, but I would have much preferred to have been in a slightly larger program.
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Tim
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Advertising

I didn't really have a good feel for what the program and the city were like before I went. The website and literature could be much better about giving possible applicants an Idea of what they should expect. things such as enrollment numbers and gender breakdown for past semester. explanations of how course enrollment works. lists of most popular courses and courses that are normally offered. sample schedule of a student. local nightlife descriptions. pictures of the city and pictures of some of the housing. All of these things would give students a better Idea of what the program was like before they show up.

What would you improve about this program?
be more clear in advertising what the size of the program is and what typical classes are offered. Many of the classes on the published list were not offered and some hadn't been offered for many years so the site was misleading.
Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to offer us feedback on GoOverseas Tim. We value student feedback and strive to improve our programs based on the feedback you and other students give to us each semester. We're sorry that you did not feel that our website and pre-departure materials gave you a full understanding of Siena and the program. Knowing what information that would have been helpful to you can help inform the changes we make to our website and printed materials each year and the pre-departure orientations we offer each semester. We would welcome the chance to receive the types of photos and lists of popular destinations in Siena from you to include in our materials for future students. Please be in touch with CET (800.225.4262 or cet@academic-travel.com) if you would be willing to work with us on this type of project and offer some of your photos and resources to us to help future participants on the program.

Default avatar
N/A
6/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Worth It

Italy is the most beautiful place. Traveling was pretty easy and cheap, as was staying in hostels. A plane ride to Paris only cost me 14 euro with Ryanair.com, and most hostels were less than 20 euros per night. The academic side wasn't great though. It was much more work than I expected, without learning a lot from it. I did learn a lot of Italian but my class was extremely stressful. I got better at Italian by hanging out with the locals, but there isn't really a great social scene that suited my interests. In Siena there are a few bars, but not really dance clubs or party opportunities. I was very surprised to learn that Italians don't really drink. They may have a glass of wine, but rarely do they get any sort of drunk. The contrada parties are so fun though! Lots of dancing. CET has a great set-up with a group of Italians from the University of Siena - we got drinks (aperitivo) with them every week. It was my favorite part of Siena; I made some great Italian friends. Most of my dislikes stemmed from not getting along very well with the students in my program, but by the end, we were great friends, and everything was smoothed over. The food is INCREDIBLE. I ate everything in sight and still lost five pounds because the food is so organic and well-made (compared to American preservatives). Going to soccer games was very fun too. Italians are SO into it! Siena is very small: within the walls it's about a 30 minute walk from one side to the other. It's also very safe. No one had any trouble with pickpocketing or any theft. The housing was great - I had my own room and an Italian flatmate. Overall, though I wasn't very happy for most of it (it's really hard feeling lonely or depressed in a foreign country), it ended up being a really great, life-changing experience. If I'm being SUPER honest though, while I think studying abroad in general is very important, I may have chosen a different program (maybe even a different country) that was bigger and better suited to my personal needs.

What would you improve about this program?
The program isn't well-organized. Some of the teachers are really not very good, which meant a lot of time in class was wasted and pointless. Also, I wish there were more people in the program (not CET's fault), because nine was just WAY too few.
Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to offer us feedback on GoOverseas. We value student feedback and strive to improve our programs based on the feedback you and other students give to us each semester. To us, the academic piece of the study abroad experience is the most important part of what we do. We strive to offer academically rigorous courses in all of our programs and would love to have additional feedback from you on the courses you feel did not provide this level of rigor. Please be in touch with CET if you would like to have a conversation with one of our staff members about your courses and how you feel they could have been improved. You may reach us at 800.225.4262 or cet@academic-travel.com.

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Megan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazingly Immersed

I had the most amazing time in Siena and traveling the rest of Europe. My experience would not have been the same without my homestay mother. After leaving Siena, I felt like I had become Italian. My language skills improved miraculously.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish the program size was larger.
Default avatar
LaceyP
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A summer in Siena

I had a wonderful experience in Siena. I lived with a home stay family and my host was Stella. Stella was amazing and like a mother to me. I had a roommate from my college also and we became best friends. My roommate and me would travel together on the weekends. We would attend class Monday through Thursday in the afternoons and had Friday off to allow a long weekend for travel! We made it to Florence, Rome, and Naples/amalfi coast areas. My classes were fun and I love my teachers. The director of my program was so helpful and I loved getting to talk with we about her Italian experiences. I was surprised by how much free time I had during the week. I spent many afternoons in the medieval fortress park studying and enjoying the beautiful views is Siena. It truly was the best summer of my life and I would do anything I go back.

What would you improve about this program?
The travel getting in to Siena from Florence was more difficult than I expected. Everything else was actually perfect.