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Siena Maymester & Winter Term


Discover the best choice for your study abroad experience with SIS Intercultural Study Abroad. Our short-term Maymester and Winter Term options offer a convenient solution for students seeking rich cultural immersion within a limited timeframe. Experience the enchanting medieval town of Siena, located just an hour away from Florence and a few hours from Rome. Siena offers a safe and unforgettable study abroad destination, where lifelong memories are created. As one of the leading immersion programs in Italy, SIS Intercultural Study Abroad ensures a transformative educational experience. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see for yourself why SIS is the perfect choice for your study abroad journey.

Maymester & Winter Term 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 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: Winter Term: Wednesday, December 27 2023– Saturday, January 13, 2024  and  Maymester: Sunday, May 12 – Saturday, June 1, 2024
  • Experience the beauty of Siena and Tuscany
  • Use Siena as a home-base for exploring Italy and Europe, or, for the summer, stick around and enroll in the 8-Week SIS Summer program!
  • 4 Credits available:
    • Italian Language Course
      • 15 hours = 1 credit
    • Choice of 1 course below* (45 hours, 3 credits, *courses will need to meet a minimum number of enrolled students to be activated)

Course Descriptions

Through a full integration of experiential approaches, service-learning and
reflective education, this three-week course offers the possibility to
explore Italy’s migration history in an active and participatory way. The
departure point of the largest emigration from any country in recorded
world history, seeing more than 13 million Italians leaving their homeland
between 1880 and 1915, Italy represents an ideal laboratory to learn about
the many facets of the migration issue.

Against this historic backdrop of emigration, newer patterns have
manifested, making Italy a destination for migrants from various regions,
whether for permanent settlement or as a way station.  Furthermore, by
accident of geography, Italy has played an outsized role in the current
European migration crisis, receiving vast numbers of irregular arrivals via
the Mediterranean over the last 10 years which present Italy and the
European Union with new challenges in curbing asylum seeker and migrant
journeys across the often treacherous sea.
The 45 hours of this course will be taught by experts in the field who will
analyze these historical, political, economic and social aspects related to
Italy as a theater of migration. Students will have the opportunity to meet
with representatives of NGOs involved in the reception of migrants, as well
as other figures such as journalists & historians. Students will also
actively participate in literacy and citizenship education activities for
groups of refugees in the territory of Siena.

(45 total contact hours) This course is dedicated to exploring the history of Costume in Italy over the centuries, with examples from major works of art from the classical Roman world to the Medieval and Renaissance eras, arriving to the Futurist oddities of the Twentieth century, bringing together art, history, culture and fashion. Museum and gallery visits will be an integral part of the course. Students will observe these trends in paintings and frescoes in museums such as the Museo Civico and Pinacoteca in Siena and the Uffizi Gallery, as well as a visit to the Galleria del Costume in Florence.


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.

(45 total contact hours) This course is meant to trace the history of Italian cooking from the Etruscan era to today through the description of recipes, recipe books, ingredients, changes in taste and different ways of eating, over the various centuries. Particular emphasis is given to the historical and linguistic dimensions of our peninsula’s resources, to the regional variations of the so-called “Italian” cooking and to the history and the characteristics of Tuscan cooking in particular; some observations will concern the anthropological and symbolic aspects of food and of eating as part of a community. Classes are organized in an interactive way: students are continuously asked to read and discuss, reflect and taste. The course includes an integral out-of-class element. Students are required to participate in excursions that involve visits and tastings at cheese, ham and olive oil producing farms as well as wineries in Tuscany, visits to museums such as the Chocolate Museum in Perugia and the Museo della Mezzadria agricultural museum. In addition, students will participate in two hands-on cooking lessons. Readings for this course include historic, contemporary and regional cookbooks, as well as historical and sociological texts and articles. Students are asked to complete written exams and oral presentations as well as a research paper that focuses on a topic of choice.


Calculus is a very important branch of mathematics because of the various fields in which it is applied. As you learn the techniques of calculus in this course, you will also see a variety of applications for them, and you will finally begin to experience the payoff for your years of diligent study while being told that the algebraic techniques you were learning would be applied in later mathematics courses. In calculus, we see some immediate, powerful applications. This course begins the study of the most important functions you will use in this course. It is followed by an exploration of the important concepts of limit and continuity. The major focus for this course is the concept of the derivative of a function and several applications in various fields of science.

Archaeology, as historical anthropology, is a discipline falling between the humanities (given the research subject) and the sciences (given the peculiar materials and methods of research). Modern interdisciplinary and contextual approaches are the outcome of the rich debate in the second half of the last century (between the ‘60s and ‘80s) and of the consequent methodological and theoretical rethinking of discipline. Simultaneously, the outstanding development of technology allowed us to reach impressive results (unthinkable only a few decades ago) and, perspectively, new advances will be achieved in the near future.

This course will introduce students to the discipline’s theoretical evolution and current approach, focusing both on multidisciplinary and interconnections between different research fields. This course will follow the main steps of theoretical and methodological evolution of archaeological thinking (e.g. New/Processual Archaeology vs Post-processualism). It will frame the main methods (e.g. survey and excavation) and “lineages” of discipline, focusing the interconnection between the different fields of research “in action” (e.g. anthropology, zooarchaeology, paleobotany, sedimentology and archaeological stratigraphy, lithic technology, pottery analysis, quantitative and spatial archaeology, excavation/survey approach, dating methods, geophysics, etc.). Moreover, special attention will be placed on specific themes of the Past, as the reconstruction of social and economic structures of societies, behaviors and production organization, mobility, exchanges, and the cognitive world. Practical activities will be also included in this course, allowing to better understand how archaeology works (e.g. reading and documentation of the stratigraphy by drawing, profiles, forms, reports and Harris’ matrix, analysis of archaeological materials, experimental archaeology). Some of the practical activities will be carried out to the Department of Earth, Environmental and Physical Sciences of University of Siena, where students will get in touch with research, and they will observe archaeological materials from the didactic collection of the Research Unit of Prehistory and Anthropology.

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; One day trip within Tuscany, 2 course-related excursions; SIS staff assistance.