Here it is (finally) – the one post that is supposed to sum up my entire “Cremasca” experience so far. I certainly feel the pressure – two months don’t easily fit into a nice, neat blog post. Of course, I’m not going to bore you with the ordinary every-day routine – wake up, see the Pre-Alps in the horizon from my balcony on the 6th floor of a sunshine-yellow apartment building, have a cappuccino at some point in the day, get fresh produce at the local market, drink copious amounts of Spritz – you know, the little things.
So far teaching has been everything I expected and more. The classes, while full of intelligent (and lazy) students, are super chaotic and loud. Order is not required nor is it easy to achieve – lots of teachers bang on desk or shout until they are hoarse. However, since these students are humans and not dogs that just peed on the rug, I prefer to just give them the silent treatment. I absolutely understand why they act that way – imagine staying in the same classroom for more than 5 hours with a barrage of teachers lecturing you, rarely asking for your opinion and even more rarely telling you “good job.” Italian schooling makes me so thankful for the educational system I experienced in America and it makes me reflect on what really makes a good teacher or a good student – is it all a big popularity contest? Is it really all about the grade? (Since I’m a graduate now I can ask all these super-meta, rhetorical questions).
Crema, the town where I’m working, is pretty small in comparison to, well, everywhere. But as the holiday season approaches and stores begin to put up twinkling lights, I start to feel just a little more at home. Then I arrive to my apartment where we have a 10-liter water heater (for those of you who can’t convert, let’s just say it’s barely enough for a hot shower), radiators that decide to stop working when you need them most, and a bed whose metal springs are aching to bust out. Don’t even get me started on the inadequate kitchen. Aside from that, I find myself excited to get home, lock myself in the kitchen, turn the heat all the way up and correct exams or plan lessons. The honeymoon phase of teaching still hasn’t worn off, thankfully, and I’m still amazed at some of the witty responses these Italian kids come up with (in English, of course).
I’ve had many opportunities to travel because free time is pretty widely available here. In early October I went to La Scala, the famous opera house in Milan, to see Don Carlo (for your opera-newbies like me, it’s not the best thing to see as your first show – it lasts a good 4 hours). I also get to go down to Bologna often and visit friends, which is a nice way to staccare (unplug) from Crema. I also was fortunate enough to pick up a second job at the Elementary school that hosted one of my ACLE camps this summer. It’s in the center of Crema and I started there this month. Walking in the first day was the biggest self-confidence boost ever; all the kids from camp recognized me and ran up to me, exited to show me they still remembered my name and a few of the songs from camp.
So that’s a summary of what’s been going on so far in Cream, as we Americans call it. I have a great crew of fellow SITE teachers with me in Crema and I don’t know what I’d do without them. Sometimes you just need someone there to understand your American pop culture references. (We’ve also started a blog where we post funny happenings of our year abroad – http://caspitane.wordpress.com/)
And if you’re wondering, the answer is yes, this year I had turkey to Thanksgiving. Or rather, I will. Saturday night we Americans have organized a big (so for Italian standards, it’s ginormous) Thanksgiving feast, 13-pound turkey and all, at our boss’ house. The Americans are making all the typical Thanksgiving dishes while we let the Italians do what they do best and cook some typical regional cuisine. I’ll make sure to throw some pictures on the blog from our Sabato del Thanksgiving (Saturday of Thanksgiving).
Alla prossima! (Until next time!)