Cultural Victories
Nicholas, Siena, Spring 2013
June 10, 2013

My experience so far has been amazing. Just the ability to walk around and learn in a city with traditions older than my country is beyond belief. I cannot think of a more fearful yet rewarding experience than to be immersed in such a rich culture with such dynamic locals. While there have been some ups and downs it has been a great start to what will surely be a fantastic semester!

I have had some struggles though. First, the language barrier is tough. Though I came in knowing a good amount of Italian, just developing an ear for Sienese language and speaking patterns has been an experience. However I have quite a few “cultural victories” as I have had full conversations in Italian and have been even mistaken for an Sienese local! Second, I had no idea the small things would be the big problems. For example, the access to information has really hit me. The fact that I can’t get internet in my house is still something I can’t get over. As well, the bus schedules and times aren’t posted and there are often contradictions in times and stops. However, with all of these problems a healthy amount of patience and reasoning will always prevail. I have maybe missed 5 buses so far but there isn’t a bar too far away for me to wait in!

The most important piece in my opinion is the host family. Just to have a core group of Italians to constantly interact with and reach out to has been incredible. Every night I learn a new word or a new tradition of the culture. I also don’t eat too bad! In the end I am so grateful I picked SIS and got the opportunity to make this long-term goal come true.


— Nicholas, College of William and Mary


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SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.