SIS Summer Language + Service

SIS Summer Language + Service

Siena Italian Studies prides itself on offering opportunities to engage with Italian culture through its “gentle” full immersion programs for motivated and curious students. These short-term summer program options were designed specifically to give students an opportunity to study the Italian language in this fascinating city and then put it into practice in the community through service-learning and via accommodations in host families. 

Program Dates (2020):

  • Maymester: Sunday, May 10th – Sunday, May 31st, 2020 
  • 8- week program: Friday, May 29th – Sunday, July 26th, 2020
  • 6-week program: Friday, June 12th – Sunday, July 26th, 2020 
  • 4-week program: Friday, June 12th – Sunday, July 12th, 2020


Italian language course ( from 45 up to 100 hours)

Siena Italian Studies provides Italian language courses for any level of Italian proficiency.   All books and didactic materials will be provided by the program.

If desired,  students my opt to take the CILS/PLIDA exam at the end of the 8, 6 and 4 week  summer programs (not the Maymester),  and receive the Internationally recognized CILS/PLIDA certification. NB, the exam is at the student’s expense. 

Intercultural Reflections Seminar

(1 hr/week) Structured and guided reflection is key to the Intercultural Reflections Seminar. Our students are stimulated to reflect on every single intercultural encounter they have, which can include but are not limited to reflections on: the surrounding environment, historic testimony, the host family, relationships between men/women, his/her peers, service.

The objective is to create a reflective awareness that allows students to open themselves to the world without getting lost, to discover the confines of their own culture interacting with those of the host culture, to see reality from different perspectives and to feel common ties of humanity under the flow of apparent differences. Reflective writing is the student’s personal tool to create his/her own personal understanding and knowledge.

All students enrolled at SIS take the Intercultural Reflections Seminar. The class meets once a week, during which students submit weekly entries concerning their studies and their overall experience/service and share them with their peers. Class is led by the Intercultural Reflections Facilitator, who serves as a bridge between the two cultures by facilitating students’ process of decoding and encoding cultural signs.

Service-Learning in the Community

In addition to taking classes, participants in all SIS programs are encouraged to perform service-learning in the community. This service can range from 5-10 hours a week and opportunities are in a variety of different service sites. Students might assist refugees adjusting to life in Siena, visit with the elderly at a nursing home, teach English or other languages to local children at elementary schools or summer camps, or help other volunteers to clear brush and maintain the medieval city walls. Volunteering in the community is an unparalleled way to improve language skills, get involved in the local social fabric and make a genuine contribution to the host community. For a list of summer service learning sites and descriptions please click here.

Included Activities

Participating students will be provided with a transfer from the Pisa airport to Siena*.  Each session begins with an orientation session and a welcome cocktail for all students.  The following is a list of activities:

  • Guided trekking in the historical center of Siena
  • Participation in Palio and introductory lessons (except Maymester, which includes only an introductory lesson)

*Enrollment must meet a minimum number for airport pick-up on designated arrival day.

Optional Activities

SIS staff is happy to organize extra activities for students.  Please inquire about prices for the following optional activities.  

  • Local wine and cheese tasting
  • A Visit to Siena’s underground tunnels, i bottini
  • Local museums: Il Museo Civico and Santa Maria della Scala
  • Excursion to the seaside (1 night in the hotel. Dinner, breakfast and dinner.)
  • A day at the pool in the Chianti region
  • Tuscan Cooking Classes
  • Dinner the day before Palio di Siena (ONLY available on July 1st)
  • Visits to local farms and/or vineyards to experience local products
  • Visits to Florence and museums such as the Galleria degli Uffizi or Duomo di Firenze
  • A final dinner at the end of the program with all participating students.  

Not Included

  • Airline tickets
  • Medical Insurance
  • Personal expenses

Accommodations in the Host Family

 All of our students in the SIS Summer Language + Service programs live with host families. The home stay is an integral and indispensable part of all SIS programs, offering students the opportunity to make life-long friends and reinforce the language skills acquired during daily lessons.  Living with a host family is the best way to experience modern, Italian culture from “the inside”.

Host family accommodations include:

  • A room in an apartment with an Italian family.
  • Breakfast and Dinner (Monday to Friday)
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (Saturday and Sunday)
  • Weekly laundry

* Host families will provide lunch on the weekends if students are in Siena but they do not provide lunches during the week.  SIS provides the option for lunch coupons that are valid Mon-Fri at two local cafes near the school.  This option is 120€ / month.  Students can also choose to explore the many options in Siena and eat on their own.