Your creativity could bring you back to Europe! EUFICCS logo contest.

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2012 by Mike Manchester

Listen up current and former students of SIS – there’s an awesome opportunity available to you right now.

To Former SIS Students:
Do you miss Siena?
Wish you could have your lunch packed by your host mom each day?
Miss Gianca, Mike, Antonella, and the entire staff?
Wish you could sit in the Campo and get a bit of sun?

To Current SIS Students:
We have three weeks left…Where did the time go?
Not ready to leave?
Already planning a trip back?

If you’re interested, here are the details: SIS, in partnership with Associazione Culturale Ulisse (Siena, Italy), Universidade Fernando Pessoa (Porto, Portugal) and Centro de Lengua y Educaciòn Intercultural (Granada, Spain), is sponsoring a logo design competition.

Essentially, these independent associations are part of something bigger called EUFICCS (European Union Full Immersion: Culture, Content, and Service). They are in search of a logo and are offering a scholarship to the student with the winning design. Requirements: the student must have studied at one of the participating organizations, the design may be hand drawn or computer designed but must be submitted electronically, and the deadline is April 30th.

For more details (and all of the regulations) check out: http://www.scribd.com/doc/85053349/EUFICCS-Logo-contest#fullscreen

Completed designs may be submitted to Gianca via email (juan.carlos@sienaitalianstudies.com).

Best of Luck to All!


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Principianti, intermedi, and avanzati…

Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012 by Mike Manchester

I’m in the advanced Italian class here (this semester there are three levels: principianti, intermedi, and avanzati). For the students who came to Siena with no knowledge of the Italian language aside from Ciao, Spaghetti, and Pizza, the beginner course was the place for them. The rest of us were then divided based on a small pretest. At the end of the day, the goal is just to learn to speak Italian and to communicate with our homestay families and our new community – which we all are doing – but I just thought I’d give you all an idea of how the Italian Language & Grammar courses work!

In any case, my class decided to take some time to find quotes that meant something to us and translate them into Italian. We each read them aloud and then voted to determine which we liked best as a class. Below is a quote chosen by one of my classmates, Annabelle. Yep, it’s in Italian – so today’s post is a bit of a game. My suggestion would be to use Wordreference.com to look up the words you don’t know. Be wary of Google Translate … it’s not always correct!

Preferisco essere abbastanza matto per compiere delle pazzie, piuttosto che abbastanza stupido per credere a delle sciocchezze. -Andrea Mucciolo


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Guest blogger: Whitney Holmes!

Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012 by Mike Manchester

As promised, this week we have a guest blogger, Whitney Holmes, to
describe her trip to Barcelona!

March has come and along with it SIS’s first long-weekend. Now,
apparently when you are studying abroad long-weekends are not to be
wasted by little trips to Firenze. Oh no, when you have three days off
you have to leave the country! And that’s how I found myself on a
plane to Barcelona, Spain.

But we need to go back before the plane. This trip was decided upon
and planned two days before we left. Each of us took a job and
scrambled to get it ready. My job was booking the flight. We found
that taking two different one-way tickets was cheaper than roundtrip
so I booked 14 different plane tickets. Ariel booked us the hotel.
Sarah and Annie were in charge of printing boarding passes. We flew
out of Rome so we started our trip with a bus to Rome. Naturally, we
needed the bus on the day of the nationwide bus strike. By sheer luck
our bus was running and we made it to the Rome bus station, then we
walked to the train station, then we took a train to some part of
Rome, then we took a bus to the airport. That’s when we realized Heidi
and my boarding passes were missing. Now Ryanair is cheap for one
reason, they charge you an arm and a leg for everything else. Even
though we had already checked in they charged Heidi and me $60 each to
print a boarding pass. That will put you in a bad mood. After a two
hour flight that ended in drop, skip, and a bounce the plane landed in
Spain. Oh, but our night was far from over.

We got a taxi to the address of our hotel. I say “address” and not
“hotel” because there was no hotel on the street the taxi brought us.
We were exactly where the confirmation paper said we should be. No
hotel. No sign. No phone number. Its midnight. Just as we were all on
the verge of complete panick another taxi pulls up to the exact spot
we were standing. Out comes an Indian man, looking nervous because
he’s all the sudden faced with seven crazy looking people surrounding
him. All the sudden Ariel spreads her arms wide, rushes at him and
goes “HELLO!! are you here to let us in?” I thought she was going to
hug him. He looks at her and goes “No.” so we start talking to him and
turns out he is renting an apartment here. That’s when we found out we
had rented an apartment for the weekend not a hotel. He had the number
for the owner so he called then waited outside with us. He spoke
incredibly good english so someone finally asked him where he was
from. He looks at us and goes “New Jersey.” Seriously, it was the
Blessed Mary taking care of us that night, sending us an American, at
midnight in the middle of Barcelona. I will never again doubt angels
from Jersey.

It turned out that our apartment was amazing! It was brand new with
three bedrooms and a couch for Nathan. Two big screen TVs, a balcony,
A TOASTER!, dishwasher, and two showers that were so amazing all of us
showered about 5x that weekend. In the morning we walked down the
street to a fruit and vegetable stand and the market and bought food
for breakfast. It felt so nice to choose my meals and take care of
myself for a weekend. We felt more at home in that apartment then any
of us have at our host families, only for that fact that we didn’t
feel like guests at someone else’s house.

We spent the day wandering the city. Gaudi is a famous architect who
designed much of Barcelona. His work is very fantasy-like and is
mostly decorated with mosaics. We got to see his house, Park Guell,
and Sagrada Familia. The last one is a church that is funded by the
people so it’s never been finished. It is the most amazing thing I’ve
ever seen. Every piece of it is unique. I really don’t know how they
can’t afford to finish it, however, since they charge $15 a person to
go inside. Barcelona itself is just an amazing city. There is so much
to see. That night we went shopping and Sarah cooked us an amazing
supper. We wanted to have tacos but apparently that’s a mexican dish,
not spanish. The Spanish don’t have tortilla shells or chips.

The next day we were off to what we called the Rumbles (definitely not
the real name) which was a street lined with vendors, restaurants, and
entertainment. We got to go into this huge market that had every kind
of fruit, chocolate, meat, seafood, fish, pizza, bread etc etc. We ate
seafood on a stick for like 2 euro. It was amazing. They even had cow
tongues and skinned sheep heads with the eyes still entact. I didn’t
buy those…couldn’t think what I’d do with them for the life of me.
Next, we found an outdoor restaurant and ordered sangria. After, we
bought a lot of artwork and we got to meet the artists and watch some
of them work. The Rambles ends in the ocean so we sat on the docks and
watched the water then went to see the replica of the first ship to
sail around the world. Looked more like the black pearl to me. After
that was the part of the day I had been waiting for all weekend! THE
AQUARIUM!!! It was very exciting. We saw sharks and penguins and

That night, after another amazing dinner by Sarah, we all squeezed
onto Nathan’s bed/couch and watched Disturbia…in Spanish. Nathan kept
yelling at us not to spill wine on his bed and we kept saying we
wouldn’t but when the scary part came all of us screamed like little
girls (Nathan rolled his eyes), Heidi dove behind me spilling her wine
on me, Sarah, Ellen, herself annnnddd Nathan’s bed. The best part of
watching this movie was that we didn’t understand a single word of it
and yet felt the need to yell at each other to be quiet.

The next day was another 12 hour trip from Barcelona to Siena. None of
us wanted to leave but we got our butts out the door by 7am for the
taxi. Heidi fell down a flight of stairs. We had another terrifying
flight on ryanair. When we landed the loud speaker voice said “We have
reached another destination on time, 90% of ryanair flights land on
time” Yup, and the other 10% don’t land. Since we flew into Venice
this time we had to find our way back to Siena. A bus ride and train
ride later we made it to Florence where we thought the next train left
in 10 minutes. So we start running to the platform. We needed to stamp
our tickets but these two Chinese women were in the way and couldn’t
figure out how to stamp their tickets. Instead of helping them, Ariel
pushes them out of the way to stamp hers. So we start running and the
chinese women think they’re late so they start running with us! So we
all get on this train so thankful that we made it. Well about 10
minutes later the train hasn’t left yet and this man gets on and comes
over to us.

Man: Where are you from?

Us: (after a few seconds of silence) America

Man: Where are you going?

Us: Siena

Man: The train leaves at 15:10

Us: yes, 10 minutes ago

Man: yes. 15:10. Are you going to wait here?

Us: umm ya we’ll wait on the train

Man disappears. So we think about it for a while and decide something
was not right with that conversation so nathan (according to Sarah)
pranced off like a reindeer to go ask the man again. Turns out his
english was wrong and the train didn’t actually leave until 17:10. So
we waited on the train for 2 hours. The best part of it though was
those two chinese women were still running on and off the train in a
panic because we had made them think the train was leaving. Poor

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Introducing Sally Wade. Our newest blogger!

Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 by Mike Manchester

Ciao a Tutti!

The semester is well underway and it’s time to get the blog up and running. My name is Sally Wade and I’m a sophomore from The College of William and Mary, majoring in government with a focus in international politics. I’m back in Italy as an SIS student after spending my summer in Florence (I decided five weeks just wasn’t enough time…). My hope is to keep this blog updated weekly throughout the next few months!

The semester began by talking about culture. How SIS provides opportunities for students to confront, experience, and interact with the Sienese (and, in general, Italian) culture. Since then, we’ve been moving at break-neck pace settling into our new surroundings.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the place we are in at this point in the semester. To me, it feels like a breaking point. We’ve finished the intensive language course, started our volunteer positions, been paired with a language partner, etc. All of the tools are before us and now is the time to either take advantage of them or not. To learn Italian or not. To form lasting and real relationships with Italians or not. To immerse or not.
I guess what it comes down to is that the FICCS approach (Full Immersion: Culture, Content, Service) and the SIS staff provide us the resources to immerse fully, offer us support and guidance, but the rest is up to us:

When the Italian flag is up in the Fontebranda office, it signifies that we should be speaking only in Italian that day – i.e. an opportunity for immersion. Yes, we absolutely could get away with speaking Italian to the staff and then talking in English amongst ourselves, but then we’re only inhibiting our own language acquisition…

We have been paired with Italian students who are interested in speaking in English / Italian. We had apertivo last week at the Fontebranda office to meet one another, exchange phone numbers, make plans to meet up, etc. But, after that, it’s up to us to forge a relationship…

In our homestay we can appear only for meals and then disappear into our rooms or we can do more. Talk more. Interact more…more seems to be the operative word. I, for one, am excited to take advantage of it all.

This weekend is our first three day weekend (no classes on Friday!) and the majority of the group is out travelling. Among us, we’re covering three different countries: Spain, France, and Italy to see Barcelona, Paris, Milan, Bologna, Perugia, and Assisi!
Be on the lookout next week for pictures and stories from our travels this weekend!

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Una Pausa Rilassante Dieci Giorni!

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 by Mike Manchester

Ciao a Tutti!

Siena Italian Studies has just ended their ten- day break and its back to studying and hitting the books! There is great talk about the many places the group traveled to. While some students decided to stay and explore Italy, others traveled great distances, to places such as: Spain, Greece, London, Ireland, France, Turkey, Czech Republic, Austria and the list goes on…

Through the many delays and cancelations, we all managed to have a great traveling experience with our friends. Ending the previous week with numerous tests and essays, it was definitely time for a break! My group and I had the privilege to travel to Madrid, Barcelona and Greece (no delays!). After five flights, it is safe to say that we all had an amazing time.

First stop: Madrid. Spain’s capital city offered us many beautiful places to visit. While walking through the city, we were able to visit the Plaza Mayor, where we met our travel guide. Plaza Mayor was built during the Habsburg period and is a central plaza in the city. The rectangular shape as well as its nine entrances makes this plaza unique and popular year round.

Carmela, Erica and I in Plaza Mayor

The crowded streets of Madrid had a subtle, yet significant piece of history. The largest city in Spain also happens to have a small area that is the “Center of Spain.” The piece of sidewalk contains a compass, where people are always standing to take pictures.

Carmela and I posing in the center of Spain!

Next Stop: Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. The weather was amazing, perfect to lie on the beach. Thankfully our hostel allowed us to walk about ten feet and do just that! If we weren’t found on the beach, we went sightseeing and explored the famous Barcelona nightlife. We were definitely not disappointed! We ventured down the boardwalk to the famous Ice Bar, where we were given coats and gloves to keep warm in the below zero temperature.

Tom at the Ice Bar!

Today, Barcelona is one of the world’s leading tourist, economic and cultural- sport centers. The lively city attracts tourists for its commerce, entertainment, media, fashion and arts. We were unable however, to keep up with the infinite sites Barcelona offers. Although, we were sad to leave, we were on the way to our next destination…Greece!

Last Stop: Rhodes, Greece. Arriving in Greece was absolutely an experience. As the taxis took us from the airport to our hotel, we noticed that the potential crazy island was completely dead. We had missed the busy season by two weeks! Apparently in the summer up until the beginning of October, Rhodes is heavily populated; packed with tourists and college students. We were lucky however with the weather. The beach was gorgeous and the weather perfect for a much needed tan.

On our third day, we explored a little further and found a place where we could all go banana- boating and parasailing. For a pretty cheap price, all ten of us hopped in the banana boat and began to see different parts of the island.

The water was crystal blue and not even the slightest bit cold. I could literally see all the way to the bottom! As the speedboat stopped, the driver insisted that we jump off and swim into one of the caves. The banana-boating experience was a special one. Being able to explore the island by boat was breathtaking; it made the whole trip worth it.

After, some of the girls and I went parasailing. The view from up above was just as amazing, though I had been screaming the whole entire time. This was the day that turned our Greece adventure right around.

While my group traveled to Spain and Greece, others made it to Ireland and London!

The Guinness Factory!

London is a beautiful place, but even here students were able to see “Occupy London”

All in all, the stress of making our several flights, busses and trains was completely worth it. The ten-day break was the perfect opportunity for our group to relax, unwind and enjoy the beautiful sights these places offered!

Addio per ora!

-Alexandra Vigliarolo

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