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There’s no doubt that a study abroad experience has the potential to be wonderful, incredible and even life changing. Like so many things though, it can be difficult to find the time to fit study abroad into your broader educational plan.

Our short-term Maymester option could be the perfect solution for this problem. The program is designed for students who wish to study abroad for a short period of time without giving up opportunities for rich, cultural immersion.

The cozy medieval town of Siena is less than an hour away from Florence and only a few hours away from Rome. Siena is one of Europe’s best cities for students who seek a study abroad experience that is safe and that at the same time will provide lifelong memories. SIS Intercultural Study Abroad is one of the leading immersion programs in all of Italy.

Come see for yourself why SIS is the best choice for your study abroad experience!

Maymester overview

In this special SIS program, students have the opportunity to study abroad for a shorter period of time. During the three week program, students will choose one full-length special-edition course (45 hours) and take one mini-course of 15 hours of Italian Language. All students are hosted with one of our host families, and all meals are provided when with the program. What is especially unique about the Maymester offering is that, for the first time ever, select SIS content courses can be taken in English. No previous knowledge of Italian is required (though beginners are welcome in ALL SIS programs!). As with all SIS programs, a series of course-related and additional cultural activities and visits will be included. 

So what are you waiting for? Apply now or write to!

Program highlights

  • Dates: Sunday, May 8-Sunday, May 29, 2022
  • Experience the beauty of Siena and Tuscany
  • 4 Credits available
  • Choose from 3 special edition courses
  • Use Siena as a home-base for exploring Italy and Europe, or stick around and enroll in the 8-Week SIS Summer program!

Program Dates

All programs include airport pick-up, program orientation, a series of activities and excursions, family home-stays and the opportunity to perform community service in a variety of areas.

Dates: Maymester 2022

Sunday, May 8- Sunday, May 29


Maymester Course Offerings

Special Maymester courses offered:

  • Italian Language (mandatory)
    • 15 hours (1 credit)

Plus ONE of the following content courses

  • International Business: Tuscan Agriculture and Craftsmanship*
    • 45 hours (3 credits) course taught in English
  • Tuscan History Through Art and Literature*
    • 45 hours (3 credits) course taught in Italian
  • A Green Renaissance: Sustainable Development in Siena and Tuscany*
    • 45 hours (3 credits) course taught in English

*Courses may need to meet a minimum number of enrolled students to be activated.

Course Descriptions

The course aims at analyzing the presence of Tuscan businesses in the international market, in particular the sectors where Tuscan exports are prominent, the same ones that contribute to the fame of this region of Italy: wine and food production, leather goods, goldsmithery and ceramics. These products date back to the thriving periods of the Tuscan area i.e. Middle Ages and the Renaissance, developing through the centuries they became famous abroad, and, today represent the strengths of the Tuscan presence in foreign markets (particularly the North American one). Students will thus examine the origins of the Tuscan products of excellence from the agri-food (wine, extra virgin olive oil, cured meats, cheese) and craft sectors (leather goods, jewelry, ceramics) the current presence and shares of those productions in international markets, the fortunate marriages between know-how and art, as well as human economic activities and the Tuscan territory, that constitute in itself a competitive advantage in food, wine and craft making.

Classes will have theoretical introductions and will be complemented by excursions to relevant points of interest (farms, craftsmanship workshops, food and wine producers).

Prerequisite: Intermediate level of Italian language

This course will explore the most important literary, artistic and cultural themes in the Medieval and early Renaissance period. Students will analyze the origin of the Italian language, born in Tuscany, together with the origin of Italian literature; they will learn how important the role of this region was to build a common sense of culture in Italy. Through the poems and the texts of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, Tuscany gave Italy the possibility to create a great and unrepeatable golden age from a political, social and cultural point of view.

The course also focuses on the study of the most important works of art in Tuscany: we will analyze the works of Duccio di Boninsegna, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Simone Martini and Giotto (from the Medieval Period) and of Masaccio, Masolino, Piero della Francesca, Donatello, Brunelleschi (early Renaissance). We will also study the structure of a typical medieval and Renaissance city (such as Siena, Firenze and Arezzo) from an artistic and architectural point of view.

Classes will have a theoretical introduction and will be complemented by a number of excursions to relevant points of interest (museums, special buildings, etc). Students will analyze literary works bringing, where possible, some personal contributions to class discussions.

This course will analyze the main issues related to Sustainable Development, based on the idea that no growth process can be considered authentically sustainable without considering the interactions between the evolution of the economic system and the evolution of the natural environment. Only after a careful analysis of traditional economic theory, of ethical issues and of the contributions of ecology and thermodynamics, will it be possible to define the importance of safeguarding the stock of natural capital and the need for a transition from the traditional approach linked to the concept of growth to the new approach oriented towards sustainable development. We will also briefly present the international debate, both in official institutions, such as the UN (with UN 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals) and the European Union, and in civil society. Everything will be seen in a positive light, thanks also to the presentation of the case studies of Siena and Tuscany, taken as a feasible and exportable example of a virtuous relationship between community and territory. In this analysis we will try to clearly highlight the three economic functions of the environment: that of a supplier of resources, that of a receiver of waste and that of a direct source of utility. An important sustainability indicator, the Ecological Footprint, will also be presented with the aim of measuring the sustainability of our economy on the basis of the study of the impacts it causes on the environment. The course will be completed by excursions, service-learning activities, visits and meetings with important local organizations that will present us with studies, projects and good practices present in our territory.

Included in the SIS Maymester program

In addition to courses:

Airport pick-up (only for groups of 8+); Accommodations in one of our trusted host-families, All meals, City museum visits; Internet use @ facilities; Day trip to Florence; Day trip to Sienese countryside and wine tasting; 2 course-related excursions; opportunities for service-learning in the community; SIS staff assistance.