December 18, 2017

Studying in Siena

Lila Jones '19

When I decided to study abroad, I had a few goals. These related to creativity, academics and personal growth. Specifically:

I wanted to be inspired. I am a Creative Writing major, working on a story I intend to finish by graduation. My writing is full of beauty, ancient imagery, stylized language and spirituality — all of which I expected to find in Italy. I hoped that the Siena program would challenge and thrill me as and writer.

I also wanted to study something completely new. I hoped my academic course of study, which focused on the business of food and wine, would expose me to an area that was entirely new for me. And, the added challenge of learning and communicating in Italian would only heighten the academic opportunity.

Elba, Italy, is a beautiful island with yummy seafood, lovely clear water beaches, and many other hidden treasures. Fun fact: Napoleon Bonaparte was imprisoned here.

Socially, I hoped studying abroad would push me out of my comfort zone and offer the chance to share adventures with new friends and mentors. At Guilford, I visited home frequently. Before studying abroad, I’d never been away for such a long time. This trip, away from my family and familiar environment, offered a unique opportunity to grow as a person.

The big tower in the center of the city (that you can see in this photo) is called Torre del Mangia and it's located in Piazza del Campo (the main square of the city where the famous Palio takes place every year during July and August).

So, how did I do? Overall, the semester has been a success. In my creative processes, I took inspiration from many aspects of my life abroad. Although I didn’t make progress on my story, the beauty of Italy and the people I met along the way inspired me to write a lot of new things. I also began journaling more frequently, which I found to be both healthy and relaxing.  Academically, I learned even more than I imagined I would. We went on a lot of field trips into different cities and towns — a cheese farm in Montalcino, a cathedral in Pienza, a winery in San Gimignano, a balsamic vinegar warehouse in Bologna (during which we got to taste a 150-year-old balsamic vinaigrette!), and even more places. It was all so exciting and wonderful. Socially, while there were some kinks, I made some really great friends.

Overall, I’m grateful for the experience. It met and in some cases even exceeded my expectations. I’ve grown from this program and recommend study abroad to others.

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