Before going abroad, I explained Siena to people as “What you think of when you think of Italy;”the quintessential Italian city. Of course, I said this in hopes people would be able to picture where I was going to be studying…but let’s be real, it’s not like I’d been to Siena (before now) to really validate this description. So in a way, I guess I was saying this to help myself be able to picture where I was going to be studying. I pictured warm colors: yellow, colorful buildings with red roofs and blue and green shutters and I found exactly that in Siena. But what I didn’t expect about Siena was the depth of the city that sadly can’t be justified with a picture. (But it won’t hurt to add one anyway, right?) In certain parts of the city, you can see the different levels of the city..and while the depth of the city is nice, I’m more captivated by all of the different colors I can see at one time…
However, because there is a depth to the city, there are hills. Lots and lots and lots of climbing hills. This isn’t an understatement, I ripped the soles off of one of my boots by the second day (Italian boots, here I come!). The best way I can describe the structure of the city is an uphill circle (perfectly logical right?). The city seems to be circled around the Piazza del Campo, with all streets going uphill from the Campo. I’ve become really familiar with the Piazza del Campo because my apartment is about a 30 second walk down one of the side streets, which is the perfect location! Because our apartment is so centrally located, we’re close to anything we would need (like gelato and food, of course). Oh, and by “we” I mean my roommates, Grace, Christine, Camilla, and myself.
As far as adjusting goes, things have surprisingly been going really well. I know this doesn’t mean that I completely lucked and won’t suffer from tough transitions. I know that at some point during the semester I’ll get homesick, but luckily it hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure it helps that we seem to be constantly busy with IES orientation events, the first of our language classes (definitely more to come on the language barrier on a later post), and settling into our apartment.As a non-coffee drinker I’ve also quickly adjusted to drinking cappuccino and espresso (and for that, I apologize to my dear father, a devoted tea drinker).However, American coffee and Italian coffee are two totally different things. When you go to get coffee in the US, it’s usually some sort of “fancy” coffee (like a pumpkin spice latte) that comes in a to-go cup. In Italy, specifically in a smaller town like Siena, I have yet to see a to-go cup. Everyone has a quick cappuccino or espresso (unless it’s past 11 am…at which time drinking cappuccino apparently becomes a “no no” to Italians) standing up at a bar before going on with their activities.Much like taking time to drink their coffee, Italians seem to take their time doing absolutely everything. Which, for the most part, I love. There just seems to be a laid-back and casual atmosphere throughout the city. However, when you are trying to get your Permesso di Soggiorno (permission to stay) or your Italian cell phone and the process takes about 3 hours, then the laid back atmosphere can be a little frustrating. But I somehow still applaud the postal worker who took numerous breaks to eat his pizza, he obviously has his life priorities in order. Throughout both of these processes (and adjusting to life in Siena in general), though, I’m so glad we had our IES RA, Camilla, with us to make the process so much less stressful. I can’t imagine what I would have done without someone to help us navigate, especially since my knowledge of the Italian language is two words: “ciao” and “grazie”.
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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);">Hi there! My name is Natalie Clark and I go to college in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I'm an English major with Creative Writing and Gender Studies concentrations. While I love my hometown in Arkansas, I've also gotten really into traveling since starting college (as one would assume, considering the fact that I'm studying abroad) and I can't wait to explore while I'm in Italy...okay, okay...and eat a lot of pasta.</span></p>