Finally made it to Siena, Italy after two days of adventures and mishaps. After a successful, albeit emotionally exhausting departure from Grand Rapids, the other Hope College student who is studying in Siena and I had a smooth flight to Chicago and a subsequently smooth flight to Frankfurt. After a 5:30 a.m. arrival in Frankfurt, we hung out in the near-empty airport for our 8:55 flight to Florence. This flight ended up canceled due to freezing rain, and while waiting in line to reschedule we randomly meet 5 other students in our Siena program–little did we know how wonderful this would be! The 7 of us ended up booking a noon flight to Rome and camped out in the airport for a few hours to rest and stock up on food. This flight was also canceled…the airport was a MESS…300 canceled flights! We then got on stand-by for a 4 o-clock flight to Rome and ended up not getting seats on the flight. Finally, we got on stand-by for an 8:55 pm flight to Florence and proceeded to find a corner to curl up and get some much needed sleep. Luckily all 7 of us got on the flight and were off to Florence 12 hours later than expected. After 12 hours in a freezing German airport we were all exhausted and frazzled but oh so thankful that we had each other.
We arrived in Florence and miraculously all found our luggage but no way to get to Siena. After a bus ride and a trek around a train/bus station we gave in and got a hotel for the night. In the morning we spent 30 minutes attempting to find the bus to Siena which involved dragging our luggage up and down stairs and across and back across crazy streets until we finally bought train tickets and ended up literally sprinting to make the train. We had a gorgeous ride through rolling hills scattered with big villas and cities with balconies and clothes hanging out to dry (despite the current rainy conditions)!
IES met us at the station and after a short drive with the wrong host dad, everything got sorted out and I was escorted through the city to my host family. And let me tell you….it was all SO WORTH IT. What a beautiful, beautiful city. Beyond blessed to call it my home!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ciao! I’m Mary and I’m blessed to spend the semester in Siena, Italy. I’m a junior double major in Psychology and English at Hope College in the charming West Michigan town of Holland. I grew up in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and love to go on adventures, have deep conversations, drink unnecessary amounts of chai tea, play the piano, become totally engrossed in books, and most of all—learn. I am very excited to be immersed in the Italian culture and beautiful language, learn to cook, and have the experience of a lifetime! I can’t wait to share my journey with you!</span></p>