The experience of arriving in Siena was nothing less than I had expected. Then again, I didn’t really know what to expect, other than what I’d seen in pictures and people telling me how much I would love it. Over the last four days, I’ve come to feel at home in Siena. One of the first things I noticed was the comforting, relatively slow pace of the Sienese- and Italian- lifestyle. The only people pushing through crowds in the streets, running to catch their bus or just walking fast in general, seem to be Americans- mostly fellow English-speaking students.
My host family consists of one single, older, retired woman, who has been very accommodating and kind to my roommate and I. She is very lenient with us, and always asks what we would prefer. I am particularly enjoying the simplicity of life here; the ability to live with only the necessities by choice. Nothing is particularly overdone or flamboyant here. When my roommate mentioned the cars being so small here in Italy, our host mother retorted saying that it is not Italy that has small things, it is American that makes everything “troppo troppo grande”, way too big. Even the meals our host mother has prepared consist only of the essentials necessary for a well-balanced, delicious meal. Everything is fresh- no preservatives or chemicals. She even has a garden where she gets many of her vegetables. Our most recent dinner was perfectly plain and uncomplicated, with a course of pasta followed by lightly dressed vegetables, one dish being “carote tagliuzzate con limone”, shredded carrots with lemon.
Overall, the transition into life in Italy has been relatively easy. I’m a homebody, but I mentally prepared myself for months before leaving home and it definitely paid off. Italy is no place to be wishing you were home, when you could be going out and exploring a place with such beautiful history, welcoming atmosphere, and clear sunshine.
Ellen is a current student at Southern Connecticut State University studying at Siena Italian Studies during the Fall 2012 term.