It’s been a funny old week. My working week begins on Tuesday, and this one got off to a flying start with an invitation to lunch from one of the teachers at the school. Lunch, as the main meal of the day, is a BIG deal in Italy. As we made the vertical descent from the school towards the various central eateries, Prof. Marino asked me if I would prefer a traditional Italian lunch (a multi-course affair where a massive bowl of pasta is belittled to the role of entrée and followed by meat or fish) or an aperitivo. Anyone that has travelled to Italy will know that there is only one sane answer to this question, and so off for aperitivi we went. The aperitivo tradition, I’m told, began when those indulging in an afternoon/early evening drink enjoyed a little accompaniment to their beverage – perhaps a bowl of olives, or a few delicately arranged hams. Something got a bit confused with the passage of time however, and now the food takes centre stage. My expression went from one of eager anticipation to speechless wonder to slight concern as the waiter placed plate after plate of food on the table. It reminded me of that scene in Bagpuss where all the mice come out of the ballet shoe. Know the one? Never mind. There was, naturally, the token bowel of olives, but these faded into the background of a scene filled with dough balls, stuffed tomatoes, fried cheese, savoury croissants, breaded rice balls, pasta, not so mini ham sandwiches, stuffed mushrooms and, well, you get the idea. It was all delicious (ok the stuffed tomatoes were weird but let’s not split hairs), and everything tastes that much better when you can eat outside overlooking the sea. It was also a good opportunity for me to pick Prof. Marino’s brain about life as a teacher, and I have to say the case she put forward was very convincing. Food for thought as well as for my stomach then – if that’s not the definition of a successful meal then I suggest someone passes me a dictionary.
After a day’s work I think we can all agree that I deserved a rest, which is fortunate because Wednesday is my midweek day off! Sadly though, all that remains in my mind of this day is the disappointment of returning to fish m chips only to be served fish m crisps! Let us move on before any more damage is done by their scanty commitment to correctly labelled potato snacks.
On Thursday the theatre came to the school, and we all piled into the main hall (me facing the awkwardness of which student to embarrass by sitting next to them) to watch a show called ‘Tune into English’ – a one-man karaoke production to help language learners get their head around English. While probably very useful for the students, for me this was just outrageously good fun – getting paid to sing along to all my favourite tunes (now I can FINALLY replace my confused mumbling to ‘Budapest’ with actual words!) Admittedly there was a slightly awkward moment when Fergal, the one-man of the production, came over with his microphone to check with me, the only other native English speaker in the room, who Princess Bea’s parents were, only to find me completely clueless on the matter – is that UK general knowledge?? But overall, good fun was had by all, and I even learnt a new hand gesture to show my parents (they’ll be thrilled!)
Winter, in contrast to its normal majestic arrival, fell in a heap on Calabria on Friday. Who needs Autumn when you can go straight from glorious eating outside days to thunder that jolts you awake and torrential hail overnight? The day before I had been borderline ecstatic to feel the first cool breezes breaking up the humidity of the last month, suddenly the prospect of winter, even an Italian winter, seemed unbearable. I’m already picking out my puffer jacket in prep for my return to the UK. Naturally, I got ill: I hadn’t been feeling my best the day before and with my sickly disposition (as Lois affectionately describes it) it was only a matter of time. I pathetically shivered my way through four classes before going home to sleep for a good fifteen hours. Being ill away from home isn’t great – normally my dad brings me Lucozade and my mum will poke her head round the door in case I’m too weak to call out for refreshments. Here I had to make do with Fanta, which I’m not sure possesses quite the same healing properties, but I DID get well taken care of at the school, where Silvana, my mentor teacher/temporary mum kept me furnished with hot drinks all day, lent me her umbrella and drove me home. Although I didn’t quite feel up to going out dancing, as had been the original plan, I did make it to my first Italian class at the Oxford Centre that evening. After all the new experiences I’ve been having lately, there was something immensely reassuring about sitting down with some good old-fashioned worksheets to talk about gli italiani e lo sport. I loved it – the people at the Oxford Centre are super friendly, and for me there’s something about being at school when it’s dark outside that brings back that childish excitement reminiscent of Christmas productions, when we would all troop to school in the dark and be allowed a lie in til ten the next day to recover from the wild night before.
Saturday was a great day at the school. Working with a really nice teacher, I got through two fairly standard lessons about buying tickets (using ma home made role-play cards – could probably afford to up the technological ante a bit), before teaching a last lesson on reality TV. As part of this, I asked my students to come up with their own reality TV show, including name, concept and prize for the winner. I had intended to come up with some kind of reward for the best idea, but, as I completely forgot to organise anything in time, I guess publishing it on here will have to do. The name of the show was ‘Drunk Cake’, in which the contestants each down half a litre of wine before completing an obstacle course, during which they collect the ingredients to make a cake. At the finish line they each bake a cake, and are judged on speed of drinking the wine, speed of completing the obstacle course and the taste of the cake. For this kind of genius – I for one would be well up for taking part in the first series – I feel the group really ought to be moved up a year.
So that’s my week. Heavy on the school-based activities, which like the little swot I am I really enjoy, bit light on the extra-curriculars, but hey, I was ill guys. Next week I can look forward to Saturday off work (those four mornings a week can be a bit much) and to my first of three whole visits before I go home for Christmas!!! Ellie, who’s spending her Year Abroad in Bologna*, is making the long journey down South on Sunday, so we’ll have to be sure to cram all the fun in to make it worth her while – first stop Sotto Zero!
* Here’s a link to Ellie’s year abroad blog, I wanted to do the cool hyperlink thing but I think I must have been ill for the ICT lesson where we were told how to do it. Damn sickly disposition.