Authentic living in Siena includes the incredible experience of living with an Italian family; most families host two students per household. The greatest advantage to a homestay is the opportunity to know and love your adopted Italian family, a relationship that often lasts a lifetime.
Living with an Italian family ensures cultural immersion - preparing you to understand another way of living and gaining a global perspective. This cultural understanding will change the way you view the world, and students interested in international careers find this added benefit an important part of the application and interview process after graduation. Homestay benefits may also include:
- Breakfast and dinners M-F and Sundays provided by the host family (YUM)
- At-home laundering facilities in most locations (negotiated by the host family)
- Comfortable living conditions
Almost as important as studying history, art, literature, or architecture is getting a feel for the fabric of a place; the way that people, institutions and ways of life all come together. Just walking around the city, buying your food, shopping for things you need or want should be considered part of your studies, too. Believe it or not, it will actually relate back to the things you are studying.
Shopping for food links you into Italian culture – you discover what the locals buy and you'll start to watch what they do. You might have embarrassing moments at first but soon it all makes sense as you realize why the locals buy what they buy and do what they do. As you become a local you'll begin to bypass the extra-cultural tourist traps in favor of your neighborhood shops, like the alumentari (a locally owned shop not much bigger than your living room). Of course, you'll frequent your favorite gelateria and join the argument over which one is the best.
Wednesdays in Siena find tourists and locals alike visiting the expansive open-air market of traveling vendors. You will enjoy learning the art of bargaining Italian-style as you shop for leather-goods, clothes, scarves, shoes, food, and any number of other treasures.
The most common and economic mode of travel in and out of Siena is by bus. There is a well-developed bus system for inner-city travel in Siena that runs frequently with convenient stops. Bus transportation to/from Siena through the bus terminal at Piazza Gramsci gets you just about anywhere you need or want to travel in Tuscany - you may want to spend a Saturday traveling to Montalcino or any number of Tuscan cities. One of your frequent trips will be a short and comfortable 45 minute bus trip to Florence's Santa Maria Novella terminal with easy and convenient transfers to airport shuttles and extensive train service.