I know that the standard American abroad experience involves traveling somewhere new every single weekend, but I’ve spent a couple of mine in Siena.
I think staying in your city for the weekend has been highly underrated by students generally. Obviously I am pro-traveling, but staying in your city has some serious perks.
First of all, I highly recommend taking full advantage of the Erasmus student network. I have met some extremely interesting people and been making awesome friends. The friends I’ve made through Erasmus are part of the reason I love my ‘home weekends’.
Erasmus students come from all over. There are English students trying to speak Italian, Italian students trying to speak English, and a surprising amount of French being spoken generally. These are the people I spend my home weekends with, sitting in Piazza del Campo together and talking. We talk about each other’s countries or we just talk the same way my college friends back home and I talk about everything and nothing.
Staying home for the weekend also lets you get to know your city. I am absolutely in love with Siena. I love its energy and its architecture. I love the history I’m learning about and the life I’m experiencing here. I even love the twisty streets that I still managed to lost in.
Sometimes staying home involves, for me, a field study for my language class.
Today, we went to this amazing bakery and watched them make different types of pastries. We even tried to make a few ourselves. Some people were naturals. I was definitely not a natural, but my efforts were admirable.
The bakers were incredibly nice (and funny). They let us try cookies that were fresh, warm and gooey in the best of ways. It was worth waking up at 8:00 on a Friday, and how often will you ever hear a college student say that?
Afterwards, the professors showed us some of the different stores to be found in Siena, like an organic-type store and we went to the Church of San Francesco. Everything was incredibly beautiful, but there was no photography allowed inside, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Siena is a city that attracts a lot of tourists. I walk past groups every day on my way to class and every afternoon on my way home. It’s not a city people visit for more than a day or two. Everyone I meet who lives here describes it as a very small city. One that has some sights, but not enough to warrant more than a weekend visit for most people.
I disagree. Siena might be smaller, but it also feels more like a home to me. I’d feel lost somewhere huge and I wouldn’t be able to meet people in the same way, just relaxing in the Piazza.
Siena might be a ‘small’ city, but it’s too incredible to just label it small. Staying here for more than a few tourist-y days has revealed a city that I appreciate for all it has to offer.
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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! I'm Taylor and I major in English and minor in History at the University of Richmond. I am a novice traveler at best, and have never been anywhere a car couldn't take me, so I am incredibly excited to be studying in Siena, Italy for the next academic year. In addition to my major and minor, I also am incredibly passionate about music, voice and piano being my preferred instruments, and can't wait to see what musical outlets I find in Siena. I can't believe I'm spending an entire year in a city I know I'm going to fall absolutely in love with and I can't wait to share my perspective of Siena with you!</span></p>