Siena vs RomeRome, Fall 2010

Ciao tutti,

Come state? Hope all is well with everyone.

This past week was Thanksgiving, or so I was told. The holiday nearly came and went without my knowledge. The leaves are still green and in their rightful places on the trees, halloween wasn’t celebrated, and all other fall characteristics are completely absent here. With the exception of the pumpkin suddenly showing up in every grocery store one would still think it to be a September here. Thankfully, the weather has finally dropped a little so as to make scarves and a jacket necessary. I do have to say that I do officially miss snow. Instead of snow here it rains, and rains, and rains. I love a good thunderstorm and puddle jumping as much as anyone else, but the constant cold rain simply isn’t the bright, fluffy cheerful snow that I’m so accustomed to.

I did celebrate Thanksgiving here in Italy but it was far from the holiday I knew it to be. There was no pumpkin pie, no sweet potatoes, not even turkey. This year’s feast consisted of assorted breads, carrots, and a pasta tuna concoction. While all was delicious, it simply wasn’t Thanksgiving. I spent the ‘holiday’ in Siena, Italy, which is about three hours north of Rome.

Siena is located in the region of Italy called “Toscana.” Possibly my favorite region in Italy, I greatly enjoyed the train there as one can see several vineyards, rolling hills, little Italian villas, and numerous small towns on the way. I had been invited to the IES Siena Thanksgiving get to together to meet with the staff and current students of their program as I will be attending IES Siena for the spring semester. The program in Rome is extremely different from the one in Siena to say the least. The city of Siena has a population of about 56,000 people  verses the metropolis of Rome with a population of 2.8 million. So, naturally, with the gap in city size, the gap in the size of the IES programs is also fairly substantial: IES Siena having 13 students and IES Rome currently having 108 students. While I love Rome, I will say that I have had trouble making the enormous city a my-own. There is still so much in Rome that I am yet to see or know about that I still feel like a complete tourist some days. Talking with the current students in Siena, all of them spoke about the town as if they were truly part of the Sienese people. Passing people that you know on a daily basis is a common event in the small town of Siena, and going out at night often could mean seeing fellow class mates or faculty. It is that home town feeling that I wish I had in Rome. Walking around Rome at night as a 5′ nothing female, I am yet to feel one hundred percent safe as I would on my home campus in Minnesota. That night in Siena I felt that hometown friendliness again and am extremely excited for my coming semester in Siena.

Don’t get me wrong though, Rome is great. But as someone put it, “Rome is more like Disneyland than a home.” With so much to do all the time, one feels almost constantly overwhelmed or as if spending a day at home to relax is a waste. Also, for those students that enjoy the constant partying atmosphere I feel like Rome a suitable city for that lifestyle. A huge selling point for me in leaving Rome for the following semester is the fact that there is less of a constant partying atmosphere. I have never really been a huge party person. I love going out, yes, but I am not the type to go out monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday like some of my fellow classmates here in Rome. Either way, regardless of your personal desires, Rome has a lot to offer to everyone.

Buona giornata,

Dani

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