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Closing Thoughts

It’s hard to believe that we leave for the states in the morning. I feel like I just got here! Each day seems to go by faster than the last. This experience has given me so many memories that I will never forget, and helped me to grow as an educator and as an individual. I have so much respect for this culture and all of the people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

There was not one class that I didn’t enjoy teaching. My kids (they felt like mine) were so sweet and I wish I had more time with them! From them, I learned patience. I now know what it feels like to be the “foreign” student who doesn’t speak the native language. I know how it feels to need visuals, and for people to speak a little slower at times. It required patience from my students and from me. I know I can take this life experience and become a better teacher to my students when I get home, especially my ESL/ELL students.

To anyone thinking about studying abroad, DO IT. It’s an adventure you’ll never forget. You’ll meet amazing people, travel to breathtaking places, experience different cultures, be forced out of your comfort zone at times, and grow exponentially as a person. Thank you Western for giving me this opportunity. Thank you mom for making the trip possible. And finally, thank you Italy for giving me the best 3 weeks of my college career.

Until next time..

Arrivederci, Italy. ♥

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Venice & Da Dorino

This is it. My last weekend in Italy. *cue tears* Our very last Saturday was spent in Venice and today we went to Da Dorino (a restaurant owned by cousins of Rico Tyler, a teacher at WKU) in Vigoleno and ate about 1000 courses.

 

Venice:

I know you’re all wondering, so I’ll get straight to it. I RODE IN A GONDOLA AND LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. Check that off the bucket list! The city was breathtaking. All of the canals running through the city made me feel like I was in a movie. It was too perfect! Of course all of the cathedrals and older buildings added to the beauty. It was a day well-spent and something I’ll remember forever.

 

Da Dorino:

Oh my word. I have never eaten so much food in my life. We ate for 3 straight hours! There were 5 courses and they were all sooooo delicious. I had to slow down after the first course and eat smaller portions just so I could try everything!

Week 3

SCHOOL

The Italian culture plays a big role in the educational environment. For example, most Italian families have a set time in which they come together and eat their 3 meals. Lunch is typically had between 1pm-2pm. Because of this tradition, school ends at 1:30pm at the high school, Respighi, and 2:00pm at the middle school, Dante. After school, students return home to have lunch with their families. Vlad finds it strange if I try to eat at different times during the day (I’m just so hungry!).

It is also known that the dominant religion in Italy is Catholicism. In America there is separation of church and state. Here, the line drawn between the two seems to be a little less important. I have noticed a few crosses hanging on the walls, religious paintings, etc. placed throughout the two schools. The publication of religion in the school does not seem to effect the students’ learning in any way. The school even offers a religion class.

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Turin & Rome

Friends/Family: I’m sorry I haven’t posted any pictures from my recent trips yet. As you can imagine, we’ve been very busy. Since my last post, we have been to Turin and Rome! Both of which were amazing. Especially Rome.

First, Turin.

We had the opportunity to go to Turin last Wednesday as part of a school field trip. While there we visit the Museo Egizio, an Egyptian museum. It was HUGE and very interesting. We had an audio tour guide that explained everything in English (thank goodness). I completely forgot to take any pictures while at the Museum and in Turin in general. Below are the only pictures I took. Sorry I don’t have more!

Next, Rome.

We spent last Saturday and Sunday in Rome. Rome has been my favorite city BY FAR. It’s incredibly historic and so, so beautiful. Two days is not enough time to see all of the wonderful history Rome has to offer. We really wanted to stay longer so that we could take our time touring the city. Let me tell you though, we made the most of our short time. We left Piacenza at 6:30am Saturday. The train ride took about 4 hours. Thankfully, Lucia gave us a map of Rome with pictures of all of the major sites bolded so that we had some idea of where to go. On our way to our apartment (which was AMAZING), we stopped at a few of the sites and, of course, took plenty of pictures.

Once we dropped our backpacks off at the apartment and took a quick breath, we set out for the Colosseum. Yes, THE COLOSSEUM. It. Was. So. Cool. And don’t worry, I took lots of pictures this time. I mean, this thing opened in 80AD. 80! Just look at it!

Right next to the Colosseum is Palatine Hill and Forum Romanum. “Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 metres above the Roman Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other.”

Sunday we went straight to the Vatican, Vatican S. Peter and Castel S. Angelo. The line to go into the church as about a 2 hour wait. We simply didn’t have the time to stand in line. There’s too much to see! BUT we did get to go into the center and see the Pope speak. That’s right, THE POPE. It was awesome!

Next, we saw the Pantheon. That was pretty cool. It used to be a Roman temple. It serves as a church now.

Next, the Trevi Fountain! It was SO beautiful (I know I use that word a lot, but it really is!) It’s extravagant and stands 85 feet high and stretches 65 feet across. We actually made a stop here on Saturday and again on Sunday. We could’t get enough. And I made sure to throw a coin in and make a wish…both times.

Our next big stop was the Spanish Steps, or Scalina Spagna. Unfortunately it was SO busy that you can hardly see the steps in my pictures. But they are wonderful, trust me.

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I won’t include all of the details of the rest of the places we stopped (because there are a LOT of places), but I will share all of the pictures. Like I said before, there is no way to see all Rome has to offer in just 2 days. I would love to come back and spend a week in this city. Anyone want to join me??

 

Here’s the map we used to navigate and record our experiences!

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My next excursion post will be about Venice! We are going there tomorrow to spend the day. You have no idea how excited I am to ride in a gondola. No. Idea.

Week 2

SCHOOL

As I stated in my last post, there are many differences I’ve noticed between school in America and school here. For example..

  • School ends at by 1:30 or 2:00
  • The teachers are the ones who switch classrooms (even school buildings)
  • Teachers do not take attendance. The students have an ID card they scan as they walk in the building.
  • The classes students take at the high school are more directly related to their chosen field of study (similar to college) instead of everybody taking general courses.

The three most noticable similarities..

  • There was more retention when the lessons were engaging, and involved real world content.
  • Students love playing games
  • Maturity levels between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd years in the middle school (6th, 7th, and 8th graders).

For the first week of school, I was placed in Respighi, a high school in Piacenza. During that first week I spent the first half of class introducing myself and answering any questions the students had about America/Kentucky/me. The second half of class was the tough part. During the next half, I attempted some cooperative activities that required the students to be social and active, something they weren’t used to seeing in a classroom. I made lessons based off of a very broad topic with no idea of where the students were with the content or what prior knowledge I was working with. So this was no easy task. I had both math and English classes. All of the math classes requested a different topic, so multiple lessons were required.

WELL, the first Saturday after that first week I learned that Andrea and I had switched placements and I would be at Dante, a middle school, for the remainder of my time here. While I was excited to hear that I would be working with middle school students (my favorite), I was definitely frustrated that I had to relearn my schedule, my teachers, my students, my classrooms, and my content after an entire week at a different school. At Dante, I am only required to teach English Speaking classes to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd years. Let me tell you. I absolutely LOVE every single one of my classes. I already feel like these are MY kids. For the first week of classes I introduced myself, talked about sports and food in America, and played a fun “Heads Up” game with the kids. They loved it! They couldn’t believe they were allowed to leave their seats and work with a friend and talk in class. I can’t wait for my classes this next week. We will be discussing holidays and celebrations in America followed by another game.

Pisa & Lake of Garda

URGENT UPDATE: I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa! After teaching 2 classes Monday morning, we decided to ride a train for 4 hours (one way), only to spend 1.5 hours in Pisa before we had to catch the last train home (which took another 4 hours). Was it worth it? YOU BET. The weather was perfect and what we saw of Pisa was beautiful. Unfortunately, there was a 3-hour wait to actually go inside the tower. We had a pretty tight schedule, so maybe next time (there will definitely be a next time).

Today we all travelled to the Lake of Garda, which is only a couple hours from Piacenza. We were able to enjoy the amazing scenery, do some shopping (a lot of shopping), eat at a delicious restaurant, take a tour of a castle, and of course eat more gelato.

 

We are going to Turin tomorrow, so be on the lookout for my next post! Ciao amici!

 

ALSO: I am now at the middle school in Piacenza and I cannot possibly express how much I love this school. My students are so stinkin’ sweet. Some of my favorite questions/quotes:

  • What shampoo do you use?
  • Do you have an Instagram?
  • Will you move to Italy?
  • Can you stay longer?
  • You are just so beautiful (my heart melted)
  • Can I have your Instagram name? (she reallllly wanted to follow me)