IES Abroad Siena (Fall 2013) student, Nicholas "Niko" Athanasatos, dispels the myth that only history majors can study in the charming Tuscan city. A junior studying physical therapy at Ithaca College, Niko chose Siena because he felt it was "the most authentic and genuine of the options" available to him for study abroad in Italy. Securing an internship for credit in the field he plans to pursue post-undergrad was just the cherry on top.
As part of his coursework, Niko is interning at Fisiomedical Check-up, a private Physical Therapy clinic near the Fortezza in Siena. His responsibilities include cleaning up after the physical therapists, helping clients find out next appointments, and observing. While he admits his favorite part is socializing in Italian and perfecting the Tuscan dialect, he says, "I have also become very acquainted with some of the machines and did Ultrasound on a patient once."
According to Niko, the internship has helped him understand the differences between Italian and American workplace culture, and has made him more excited to become a physical therapist: "I love meeting new patients and creating bonds with them. Seeing people's recovery fills me with joy."
In addition to the part-time internship, Niko is enrolled in courses on Italian language, Gender Studies, and Art History—Italian being his favorite. He says, "My professor, Roberta Resti, makes learning Italian a blast. [She] creates a warm atmosphere for all of us to talk about things we would normally talk about in English."
Thinking of studying in Siena? Consider Niko's advice: "Come here with the intention of being immersed in Italian culture. Stray away from your English and enjoy every moment in the city. Try not to travel too much on the weekends because that is the time to meet other locals and truly experience the Italian culture. The Piazza Del Campo is an amazing place. It is the heart of Siena. You can strike up a conversation with anyone and make many friends."
Click here to learn more about IES Abroad Siena.