IES Abroad Siena Apartment Tour

Gemma Colsanti Headshot
Gemma Colasanti
July 7, 2024
me, Abby, and Gail all hanging out in one of the bedrooms

If you’re anything like me, then housing is one of the main study abroad things you’re worrying about. I’m not going to lie, preparing to study abroad was really stressful—a lot of the information I was supposed to get came to us late, specifically, our housing, which was emailed to us only about a week before move-in. One thing I would have loved to see before I left the U.S. was an apartment tour, so that’s what I’m giving you now!

I’m going to preface this by saying that for the most part, I got very lucky with my apartment. At least for students studying in Siena, Italy, the apartments are not necessarily in the same complex, or even neighborhood, and are owned privately by different people. This means that each apartment comes fully furnished and supplied with a bed, sheets, towels, appliances, cooking tools, and dishes, but these are not regulated from apartment to apartment (for example, each house has a gas stove, but one of the apartment stoves doesn’t have any knobs to turn it on, so they have to light the stove with a lighter). 

I live with three other people—Gail, who is in the same IES program as me; Abby, my roommate, who is studying at the local hospital through Temple University; and Stefania, our Italian roommate who works for IES.


entry way


In my apartment, you enter into a long hallway with high ceilings (picture 1). The first doorway on the left (not shown) holds a large full bathroom, which is used by our Italian roommate, Stefania. The next doorway leads into the kitchen (picture 2), which is very bright and beautiful. I am in awe of the tile countertop and backsplash; one of my favorite tiles has a little duck on it, which is my favorite animal. On the opposite wall (not shown) are some very tall white cabinets. Though they are big, they are completely filled with dishes, so I keep my unrefrigerated groceries in my bedroom. Behind the small set of drawers on the left side of the photo are our trash bins. 

One thing in Italy that is different than in the U.S. is the trash system. In the U.S., we have a trash bin, a recycling bin, and sometimes a compost bin; however, Italy focuses a lot more on reducing waste, which means more specific trash bins. Behind the drawers are our glass, plastic, and paper bins, and under the sink is our compost bin. Each bin is labeled with a different color trash bag and is taken outside on a different day of the week. We don’t have an “everything trash” bin like some of the other apartments being used by other IES students.

Out of all the IES apartments I have seen, our kitchen is by far the biggest. I like to invite some of my friends with smaller kitchens over to cook!

The next room we come to is the living room (picture 3), which is beautifully furnished with three couches. Along the walls are more shelves—one filled with books, movies, and games, and the other with extra dishes and glassware and tablecloths. We have a working TV and a nice open space. I love doing my homework on the white couch by the window (it is so comfy). The only problem with this room is that the WiFi doesn’t work too well because the router is in one of the bedrooms down the hall. Our living space is very bright and airy, and when we have friends come over we love to sit on the couches or in the kitchen and chat. Although, a living room isn’t necessarily a guarantee—I know one of the other apartments doesn’t have one, and their living space is combined with their kitchen.


living room


As we make our way further down the hallway, we get to the bedrooms (picture 4), the laundry room, and my bathroom (which is shared with Abby and Gail; picture 5). The first bedroom on the left is Stefania’s, then we come to a small common space that holds the laundry room on the left, two bedrooms at the front, and the bathroom on the right. The laundry room holds one washer, which is a lot smaller than the ones back in America, but it gets the job done. Most Italian houses don’t have a dryer, so we all have to hang-dry our clothes either on clothing racks or on clotheslines outside (although some of the apartments don’t have outdoor clotheslines). I am nervous about hanging my clothes outside because my apartment is not on the ground level, so if some of my clothes fall, I don’t know how to get them back. The first time my roommate Abby used the clotheslines, one of them fully snapped! Luckily none of her clothes fell off, but the snapped line was dangling down so far that it got stuck, and it took five people to try to pull it back up!

Picture 4 shows my bedroom that I share with Abby. I think it’s a nicely sized space and gets a lot of natural light. Like the living room, it already came with shelves full of books and games. Gail and Stefania each have their own rooms, which are also very spacious.

Picture 5 shows the bathroom that Abby, Gail, and I share. Not pictured on the right side of the photo are the toilet and bidet (which I do not wish to use). The tile is very pretty and there is enough space to keep all of our toiletries, but if there is one thing to complain about in this apartment, it is the bathroom. When we first arrived, the white space above the shower was noticeably covered in black mold. Because of all the predeparture forms that we filled out, IES knows that I have asthma, which means I am especially at risk around mold. I am upset that IES would put anyone in an apartment with black mold, but as you can see in the picture, it was removed about two weeks into the program (after Gail and I got sick). The bathroom window also looks directly onto a neighbor’s back porch and has no curtain. I have learned to face the door when I get out of the shower.


my bedroom


Besides the mold, I definitely got lucky with my apartment. The other IES apartments that I have seen are all a pretty good size, but not as spacious or pretty as this one. Of course, living in a different country for the first time comes with its quirks! (Did you notice all the artwork of naked women in my apartment?)

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Gemma Colsanti Headshot

Gemma Colasanti

Hi! My name is Gemma and I study writing, Italian, and live event management at Ithaca College. When I'm not at dance class, you can find me reading, crafting, thrifting, and snuggling with my cats, Lyra and Tiny. 

2024 Summer 1
Home University:
Ithaca College
Creative Writing
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