Reflecting on my time in Siena

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Grace Wolf
May 27, 2024

I cannot believe how fast my time in Siena went. As I pack up my room, I keep remembering what it felt like in my first few days as I put up my decorations and picture frames and made this place feel like home. Now, a piece of my heart will always be in Tuscany. 

As I prepare to leave, I thought I would share some lessons I have learned during my time abroad. Studying and living in Siena has been a transformative experience that has taught me so much about myself, others, and the world around me.

Additionally, I’ve learned to embrace new experiences and step out of my comfort zone. Moving to a foreign country, navigating a different language, and adapting to new cultural norms have all been challenging yet incredibly rewarding. These experiences have taught me resilience and adaptability. I’ve learned to approach unfamiliar situations with an open mind and a positive attitude, knowing that each challenge is an opportunity for growth. While my Italian is still nowhere near perfect, I feel proud that I can carry myself and converse with others; and I love how supportive the community is in Siena and Italy as a whole to help me practice. 

Living in Siena has also deepened my appreciation for the simple pleasures in life. The Italian way of savoring meals, enjoying leisurely strolls through the city, and taking time to connect with others has shown me the importance of slowing down and appreciating the present moment. This slower pace of life has been a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle I’m used to and has taught me the value of mindfulness and living in the moment. I took my time to watch sunsets at the fortress, read in the botanical garden, and sit in the Piazza del Campo to have gelato with friends. I also love the tradition of aperitivo, and taking time to get drinks and snacks with my friends at the end of the class day. 

Lastly, my time in Siena has taught me the importance of forming meaningful connections. Whether with Italian student companions or my instructors, the relationships I’ve built have been a crucial part of my experience. These connections have provided support, friendship, and a deeper insight into Italian culture. They’ve shown me the importance of empathy and the ability to find common ground with people from different backgrounds, and I feel so confident moving forward making friends and traveling abroad. 

As I pack my bags and prepare to leave Siena, I do so with a heart full of gratitude for the experiences that have shaped me. This journey has been about more than just studying abroad; it’s been about learning, growing, and connecting with a part of the world that will forever be a part of me. I am incredibly grateful for the lessons learned and the memories made, and I look forward to carrying these experiences with me into the future.

Living here has really given me a taste of “la dolce vida”!

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Grace Wolf headshot

Grace Wolf

Hi! I’m Grace. I'm a first-generation, Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studying Economics and Environmental Science. I was raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, and I am an active scuba diver, yogi, and gardener. 

2024 Spring
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University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
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