University of Oregon

Italian Language and Culture in Siena

Program Overview

Combine the study of Italian language (for absolute beginners to advanced) with courses in fields including anthropology, art history, communications, economics, food and culture, history and political science. You can elect to enroll in Italian semi-intensive language courses for 50 contact hours at the beginning, intermediate or advanced levels. You will enroll in the intercultural communications (ICC) course and, combined with a community placement, can elect to earn service learning credit. If you opt to enroll in service learning, you can select from a variety of opportunities, including placements at a pottery arts program for the disabled, a day care center, an elementary school, the Social and Rescue Services or with a retirement center. In addition to Italian language and the ICC course, you can enroll in one to three additional courses offered on-site to round out your Italian cultural experience. In addition to the GEO courses offered on-site, you can also opt to enroll in an extra-curricular Italian cooking course (for an additional fee).

Academic Details

You will enroll in approximately two to three courses in addition to the Italian language and intercultural communication courses, which are mandatory. All courses offered in Siena are recognized and approved for academic credit by various GEO partner institutions. Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information, in particular, how many contact hours are required for internship or service learning credit.

Courses are taught by Italian faculty who have experience teaching U.S. students, including supplementary language tutoring offered by the site director. In addition, visiting U.S. faculty may teach two courses. You will attend classes with other US students, and as part of the ICC course, you will meet with Italian students from the Università di Siena at the Language Lab or in classes at the university. Courses make use of a variety of materials and texts, all of which are provided as part of the program fee. Italian language courses are held in the afternoon. Students should pay special attention to the Italian language level offered by term, as the courses are offered in sequence (i.e., Fall 101, Winter 102, Spring 103). Courses are held Monday–Thursday, with Fridays reserved for longer group excursions as well as time to commit to your service learning placement. There is also a mid-term break over a long weekend for personal travel.

If you opt for the service learning placement, you will be required to make both a personal and a professional commitment. As part of the Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Service Learning course, you will design a project in partnership with your organization host, conducting a needs and skills assessment. Over the course of the term, you will continue to develop your project while reflecting on your involvement and the cross-cultural context in which you are participating. At the conclusion of the program, you will present a portfolio of reflection papers, resumé, and project analysis. A service learning placement requires flexiblity and commitment to the internship schedule and entailed responsibilities. Because of the time commitment required, you may sometimes have to forgo a program activity or excursion in order to fulfill your responsibilities to the organization.

Required courses: 

  • Cross-Cultural Communications/Cross-Cultural Perspectives
  • Italian Language (101, 103, 203, 301, or 302)

Electives available:

Service Learning

An optional service learning placement is an exciting opportunity for students studying in Siena, Italy during the fall or spring to immerse themselves in the local Sienese culture. Placements vary by term. In the past students have volunteered at local retirement homes, ceramic arts programs for community members with disabilities, pre-school and elementary schools, and rescue and social services.

Take it from one of our past participants:

"The most rewarding and unforgettable experience. Teaching the children english at the kindergarten and watching the amazing sculptures the students at the ceramic studio made was great.”
-Gardenia, Italian Language and Culture Participant 2015

"Really a great experienced that opened my eyes and gave me valuable lessons that I will take with me throughout life. It was easy to get there too, made it very convenient.”
-Christopher, Food and Culture Participant in 2015

Students opting for the Service Learning placement will be required to make both a personal and professional commitment. As part of the Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Service Learning course, you will design a project in partnership with your organization host, conducting a needs and skills assessment. Over the course of the term, you will continue to develop your project, while reflecting on your involvement, and the cross-cultural context in which you are participating. At the conclusion of the program, you will present a portfolio of reflection papers, resume and project analysis. 

Your placement will be determined in consultation with the Siena Site Director once you are in Siena. It is your responsibility to work with your campus adviser to understand if or how the service learning hours will transfer back to your home campus as each school transfers credits for service learning differently. These placements hours will not be reflected on your GEO grade report. 

Faculty and Staff

In fall 2015, University of Oregon professor Judith Raiskin will teach two courses in Siena, Italy, alongside local Italian faculty. Enroll in Professor Raiskin’s courses Italy and the Art of Travel Writing and Imagining Italy through Film. Travel in the footsteps of major writers and filmmakers who have imagined Italy, study their various representations of Italian places and people, and learn how to write your own travel essays.

Housing Description

Experience life as part of an authentic Italian neighborhood, living in apartments with other GEO and/or Italian students throughout the town of Siena. Some apartments are within walking distance of the GEO classroom within the old city walls, while others are in neighborhoods just outside and accessible by public transportation. No matter where you live, close by you can find small local grocers, restaurants, and cafés unique to your neighborhood. Each apartment is fully furnished with beds, desks and a kitchen table and chairs. You will share a bedroom with one or two other students, as well as the common spaces (bathroom, kitchen, etc.). The kitchens are equipped with utensils, plates, glasses, cookware, an electronic oven and a gas stove. You will also receive two sets of linens and each apartment has access to a washing machine and drying rack.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearPriority DeadlineApplication/Deposit DeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date
Fall Quarter2015N/A6/1/20159/24/201512/12/2015
Spring Quarter201612/1/20151/30/20163/31/20166/18/2016
Fall Quarter20163/15/20164/15/20169/26/201612/10/2016
Spring Quarter20171/01/20172/01/20174/3/20176/15/2017

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.