This time last year, I ventured to Italy for the first time. It happened because I stumbled across the following on my way to class.
I am infinitely thankful for having been a part of this opportunity. Teaching in Italy was an experience I can’t believe actually happened. But since I have photos and old lesson plans to prove it…!
Teaching. I made games out of thermodynamics concepts and created class tournaments out of pre-calculus problems. For their finals, I introduced them to Jeopardy. The students loved the competitions. However, I had to beg them to speak up and interrupt me with questions because part of the reason this program was created was to encourage other nations to adopt innovative teaching strategies. Most Italian students are taught on the chalkboard, where those who speak up with questions are reprimanded. After the program ended, I left the professoressa’s my PowerPoint templates and games. Every year the Highlights for Highschools program expands, reaching more schools in more countries.
Living. My Italian host family (Marcello and Lucia) only spoke a little English, which was perfect because I practiced the little Italian I’d recently learned. Marcello had a public crush on Shakira and would play her music non-stop. They held a family tradition (with their eldest daughters who no longer live at home) to eat a delicious (large) brunch every Sunday. The students I taught (only 2 years younger than I) took me out to my first discoteca and Italian bar. Not like American clubs, where people are in contact, Europeans just like to have a good time. They are very friendly. I visited a place famous for serving pizza by the meter, and traveled around to a few other cities. My favorite pastime was just walking around, getting lost and finding new things or dropping in on conversations.
My advice to everyone: be an opportunist! Pay attention to the little flyers. Make life interesting. Immerse yourself.