Leaving Siena was incredibly difficult and while I'm happy to be seeing friends and family again there is so much I miss. Our last few days of the semester were filled with finals which were partially stressful because there were a million other things to do before leaving and kind of helpful as it definitely distracted us from sadness of it. Saturday we had a little get together of everyone in the program and their language exchange partners and Italian friends. It was really fun having everyone together and meeting new friends. It was really cool to see myself speaking with these people I've never met and being able to communicate everything I wanted to in Italian without feeling nervous. This Sunday, after studying together for a bit, we went to Siena's last soccer game of the season. Especially since most of us didn't get a chance to see a European soccer game earlier in the semester it was definitely a worth while study break. Monday and Tuesday had absolutely perfect weather. To make the most out of our free time after our various finals or presentation, we studied in Piazza del Campo, absorbing the beautiful view of Palazzo Publicco. Wednesday was tough, not only because of my three finals, but also because it was the last day we were all going to be together in Siena. That evening we had our farewell dinner and some tears were definitely shed as we laughed, ate and reminisced on all the wonderful times we spent together. Thursday was my last day in Siena. After being in this city for so long it was a mix of stress and emotions as I tried to say bye to a city that has become a second home for me. I packed in the morning spent a relaxing day soaking up the beautiful weather spending time with the amazing friends I have made. I had my last dinner with my host family and spending time with them after made me really emotional. I really felt welcomed part of their home and leaving them was really difficult. We had our final with the rest of the people who didn't leave yet all met up for a last goodbye that night. Coming home I've been hyper aware of all the little cultural differences. It's definitely a shock and really eye opening to how I have changed and grown with this semester. There are plenty little things that I'm really going to miss that made my study abroad experience truly remarkable.The city itself, everyday there were little things that proved to be constant reminders of its past history and culture which is still thriving city today. In preparation for the Palio, everyday towards the end of the semester you could hear the different contradas practicing drums and if you walked by certain areas you could see the flag throwers practicing. Every week until the Palio is dedicated to a certain contrada. Just by chance I got to see the Valdimonte processional my second to last Sunday as they took their tour around the city. It was really amazing to see and I can only imagine what it will be like the day of the Palio when all 17 are together marching around the Piazza del Campo. This and so many more events I have stumbled upon are part of Siena's traditions and are part of the reason why it's not just its medieval streets that set Siena apart. The Palio among other things has brought the people of the city together just as they have in the past. Pieces of history are everywhere in this city. One particular memory was a trip to the archives of Siena and by chance we went to a part normally not open to the public and saw scrolls dating back to the early 1200s. Of course a huge part of what I'm going to miss are the people. From the people at IES, to my amazing host family and all the people in my program, they all have made this experience so special for me and it would not have been the same without them So its been a week since I've been home and while I might still be sad and missing Siena I will always look back on all the happy memories I've made and take them with me. Italia ci vediamo presto!
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<p>Jessica Heymach is a junior at Lehigh University with a double major in International Relations and Sociology and Anthropology. She cannot be happier to be studying abroad in Siena, Italy this spring. Jessica is from Long Island, New York and loves adventures, whether it is hiking in the Adirondacks or scuba diving in Maui. She has a passion for photography and art. Traveling has always been her dream, and she cannot wait to explore and experience as many cultures as possible.</p>