Transition's afoot - both for me and Bel Camino! In the spirit of Bel Camino, I will be taking my own gap year (a.k.a. sabbatical) this year. Which means that the Semester in Siena and Adventures in Mindfulness will be on hold until further notice. Though I will miss Siena, I am very excited at the adventures and encounters that await me! Stay tuned!
Tante belle cose!
Carla Fabian, Bel Camino Founder/Director
While most participants will be between the ages of 18 and 20, the exceptional 17-year-old or 20+year-old will be considered; all will be high school grads; most will be gap year students; a few may be college students. They will likely hail from the U.S. Names and contact information of others attending the Semester in Siena with you will be available to you before the program start date.
We believe that learning Italian is key to understanding the culture of Italy. For this reason, the Semester in Siena includes 15 hours a week of Italian lessons. Participants are expected to show up, physically and mentally, to ALL classes ON TIME. There will be no tests, but there will be about thirty minutes of homework each day. As Italian is not widely offered in American high schools, few students will have studied it before joining Bel Camino. This is not a drawback however, for, more important than a facility for languages is the desire to learn. By applying yourself, you can become proficient in Italian in a short time and the rewards will last a lifetime. If you are NOT interested in learning Italian, please consider a different program.
One partial scholarship is available each semester based on financial need. Interested students should call to inquire about this.
Yes. We have an agreement with a fully accredited American college, which will allow you to earn up to 15-quarter hours of academic credit for your overseas learning experiences with us. Each course costs $435.50 and gives 5-quarter hours of credit. There are 3 course offerings: Hum 293 – Italian language, EDU 291 – World as Classroom, and SSC 297 – Travel Study Experience. You can take 1, 2 or 3 of these classes. All coursework will be submitted electronically to the course instructor, Professor Steve Tash. If interested in the credit option, contact him directly by email BEFORE leaving the US at firstname.lastname@example.org. As it is ultimately the decision of the home institution as to the number of credit hours that you will be granted for work completed while attending Bel Camino, you should also speak with your college or university about this BEFORE making a decision.
Knowing most of the families personally, we will take into consideration what we know about you and match you with the family that seems to suit you best. Personal habits, allergies and dietary restrictions factor into this decision process, so please be honest and accurate on the application. As to the time spent with your family, generally, you will have a quick breakfast and a lengthier dinner with your family. Dinners are often the highlights of the home-stay as they give you the opportunity to put your Italian into practice and to learn more about your host family and culture. Other than mealtimes, the amount of time you spend with your family is up to you. Many families consist of couples with grown children. If they are still working, the parents will be out for most of the day. If they are retired, they may be around the house for much of the day.
The semester is a combination of organized group activities and ample free time for individual pursuits. Opportunities abound in Siena and participants may take classes in: cooking, dance, music (opera, jazz guitar, piano, violin, cello, e.g.), and art (book-binding, stained glass, photography, painting, drawing, clay sculpting, etc.) We encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities and to choose at least one of these to explore (no previous experience is necessary).
One of the highlights of the week, the Monday gatherings are a time to cook and eat together, usually 4 to 5 students at a time, with a different mix of students each week. After the rest of the group arrives, there is a group check-in and a review of the upcoming week. Afterwards, we watch and discuss a Ted Talk on a topic of interest. Yoga or some other mindfulness practice will either be done at the start or end of each group gathering. The resident director is always available after the meeting for those who wish to speak with her privately.
Siena has good doctors in the city center and a nearby hospital should you become ill. It is required that all participants show evidence of a recent medical exam as well as medical insurance, including international coverage, before leaving for Siena. See the Terms & Conditions and/or Important Miscellany for more information on this.
You are allowed to drink alcohol on the program, but only if you do so in a responsible manner and IN MODERATION. Drunkenness is considered behavior unbecoming to Bel Camino and will not be tolerated. Use of non-prescription drugs is illegal in Italy and will result in immediate dismissal from the program. This is discussed in the Terms & Conditions and will also be covered during the orientation period.
Yes, we have a reference list of previous students who would be happy to speak to you about their experiences in Siena. Interested students should call to ask about this.