After just a few weeks here, I have already fallen into a pretty steady routine.
On Mondays and Wednesdays I have class 9-11 a.m., and then 2-6 p.m. This may seem like quite a big chunk of time, but my teachers always try to get us outside of the classroom with museum visits or city walks.
Every morning I get dressed and head to the bathroom to get ready. Luckily, the daughters of my homestay have to be at class by 8 a.m., so there is never any conflict with five of us sharing one bathroom. After I look socially appropriate enough to leave the house, I’ll eat breakfast. My family has a large drawer full of breakfast foods for me: croissants, biscuits, etc., and they leave me tea bags and fruit out on the table. Usually, by the time I am up and ready, everyone has left the house so I have a quiet breakfast as I prepare for the day.
After classes on Monday and Wednesday I usually stay in the IES Abroad Center or go back to my house to finish my homework. The homework is significantly less than at my homeschool, but it can definitely pile up if you are not staying on top of things.
At one o’clock I meet up with some friends to eat lunch. Luckily I have found some cheap lunch places around the town (like 1.80 euros for a hefty slice of pizza!). When the weather is nice we will take our food and sit in the piazza eating, people watching, and soaking up the sun.
After class, I always get gelato. Not an exaggeration. Every single day. The workers and I are now friends. It feels nice to be recognized and be a regular in a city that is not my hometown. Getting a snack after classes are done is also a nice way to relax, destress, and have something to tide me over as dinner isn’t until 8 p.m. or later.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays I only have one class in the afternoon. I take the mornings to relax as weekends are usually spent traveling. It’s nice to have time to myself and still be able to continue my hobbies such as reading.
I usually return to my homestay at about 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. and dedicate some time to doing any homework I may have left. 8:00 p.m. is dinner, which I eat with my host family. The food is always amazing, and they always anticipate my needs.
Overall, my school days in Siena are not wildly different than ones spent at my home university. Things are similar enough to make me comfortable, but some actions—like sitting outside in the piazza for lunch—are unique and make me feel part of an entirely different culture.