Learning from Living August 10, 2018

By (Hope College) - abroad from 01/15/2018 to 05/04/2018 with

IES Abroad: Siena - IES Abroad Center

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to be more confident in myself. There is a thrill that comes from going abroad on your own and making a life. My time abroad left me feeling as if I could truly handle myself in more ways than I previously believed.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The courses were very rewarding, and the wonderful part was that I rarely felt stressed out for any assignment!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

I have celiac disease and Siena was a hard city to live in to accommodate this dietary restriction, though it was doable. Rome and Florence were wonderful cities to travel to because they had a lot more options for me.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Siena is a very safe feeling city. Do not go here unaware of danger, but while on my study abroad trip I never felt scared walking the streets by myself, even at night.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

Though I loved my program and would not change my first experience for any other city, if I went back to study again in Italy, I would like to try Rome. Siena was a good gateway into the Italian life.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $80
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy groceries and go out for appertivo!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Basic Italian
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Go to any place with locals and try holding a conversation. LISTEN to others and learn from what you hear.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • People
  • City
  • Traditions -- Palio
* What could be improved?
  • More community involvement
  • Pre departure Preparation
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That it is okay to figure things out as you go. Not everything detail has to be planned out ahead of time.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.