- About Siena Italian Studies
- Accreditation & Certification
- Educational Approach
- Siena, Italy
- Siena Semester Program
- Siena Summer Program
- Multi Destination Programs
- European Students
- Customized Opportunities
- Contact Us
Expand your horizons and earn optional college credit studying abroad with this semester gap opportunity with SIS. During the SIS Gap semester, students will have the opportunity to enjoy life in Siena with a local Sienese host family, learn the Italian Language, and get to know themselves and this fascinating city through service-learning in the community. Unlike other SIS programs, this program was specifically designed for the gap year experience, allowing students to spend a bit less time in the classroom and more time out in the community or participating in cultural activities.
After meeting the group on the arrival day at Pisa International Airport (PSA), SIS staff will accompany the group to Siena where host families meet the students. Orientation activities take place in the three days that follow. During Orientation, students get to know the city of Siena, other students of the various SIS programs as well as staff and are introduced to various aspects of the coming semester. They will start exploring the intriguing, though sometimes contradictory, characteristics of Italy and Italians today.
The Orientation days also include a series of group activities, a welcome reception with host families, faculty and staff as well as a group historical tour of the ancient city.
Then the Intensive Italian Language Course begins. These first three weeks of the semester are dedicated to learning Italian, exploring the territory, visiting service sites and getting to know the host families.
Following the three-week course, the gap semester officially begins. The Gap semester is specifically designed to give the student enough support and structure to navigate their months abroad, but also enough independence to explore and learn through their service activities. In fact, the only courses Gap Semester students are required to take are Italian language (both the Intensive 3 week course, and the semester course) as well as our Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy and Global Citizenship course, which guides the students in Intercultural Reflection linked to their service activities. However, for those inclined to spend more time with the other SIS students in the classroom and take home some additional college credit, there is also the option of taking another SIS content course from among those offered during the semester. Classes are held together with students participating in the standard SIS semester program.
Service-learning in the community will play an important role in the Gap semester experience. Here, think about what kinds of activities you might like to do while getting to know other volunteers and community members. Students will have a series of introductory meetings with our service-learning coordinator and then decide on which service-sites best suit their interests and schedule. They’ll be accompanied to the service site(s) the first time by a staff member and will discuss their service experience often with their Intercultural Dialogue and reflections instructor.
There will also be plenty of activities and excursions throughout the semester, together with students in the other SIS programs, as well as certain activities reserved just for Gap students. The group will take one 3-day weekend trip to a selected off-the-beaten-path destination within Italy. Past trips have been to visit Genova and the Cinque Terre, explore culinary wonders in Emilia-Romagna or to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast to the south. There is also a 3 day trip to Brussels, Belgium and a series of shorter day-trips and afternoon activities.