My program ended a few days ago, and there are so many aspects of my time in Siena that I miss with all of my heart. Here are a few.
1. My friends. Since my program is small and there are only a few classes, it was easy to get really close to the other students. We were with each other for almost four months, seeing each other almost every day and traveling together on weekends. We ate together, studied together, went out on weekends together, and I miss them all so much. We had inside jokes that people at home just don’t understand.
2. Being able to walk everywhere. Siena is a small town and you could practically walk anywhere you want to go. At home my huge, gated neighborhood now feels a bit like a prison. I despise being so car-reliant but with urban sprawl and living in the suburbs I don’t have much of a choice. This also made me feel healthier and it encouraged me to be outside more.
3. The food. This is pretty obvious, but Italian food in Texas is just not the same. It will take awhile to adjust, but for the near future I think I will be avoiding Italian restaurants. I miss my favorite Italian snacks as well, such as Ringo cookies and all of the wonderful breakfast foods my host family bought for me.
4. Being able to stay at restaurant for however long you want. In the States there is a pressure to eat and leave so the waitstaff can have more customers and earn more tips. However, in Italy tipping is not a thing, but rather you are often charged a cover charge. This means you can stay at the table for however long you want and have a great, stress-free time with your friends. I wish our dinners at home could be longer.
5. Public transportation. In my home town of San Antonio, TX there is limited public transportation and the limited options are unreliable. I became spoiled in Siena, taking buses and trains across the country at a moments notice. Getting out of Texas, let alone my city, is quite difficult.
6. The Piazza. The Piazza del Campo in Siena is so beautiful and it is a great place to sit for hours on end. My friends and I would often grab some pizza or a drink from the grocery store and just sit, relax, and talk. In my hometown we don’t have anything like this. I loved having an outside public space where I could meet people or even just sit and read by myself.
Siena is a wonderful place to study abroad and I could not recommend it more. Even if you are not choosing to study here, it is definitely worth a visit. I miss Siena so much.