I’ve been in Rome for exactly eighty days. Even though I’ve left and returned several times it’s still eighty days since I stepped off the plane from Malta. It doesn’t seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but to me it’s starting to feel like forever. A lot of wonderful things have happened in the past eighty days, but a lot hasn’t happened either. I’ve spent the past eighty days looking for a job, eighty days living in an expensive city without earning an income, eighty days trying to find things to do that don’t cost a bomb, eighty days window shopping. I’m used to being busier than this. I’m bored. (Stu, I wasn’t bored while you where here. You either Renate. In case you were wondering.) In just a few days though everything is going to change.
At 9am on Monday morning, I will be sitting in a classroom on the first day of a month-long intensive course to learn how to teach English. Known worldwide as CELTA, I think – from the reports I’ve received and forums I’ve read – is that it should be renamed HELL. I haven’t even started the course and I’ve already been handed a thirty-two page task to see how up-to-speed I am with my grammar and vocabulary. Noun, verb, adjective, right? WRONG! I’ve been slogging away at it for most of the afternoon and am not even half way through – what the hell is a present perfect progressive verb! I don’t remember learning those at school. I’m really hoping that my years of studying Italian are going to help, otherwise I am in serious trouble.
Not only is understanding grammar going to be a major hurdle in getting through this course, there are other factors I foresee that are going attribute to a very tough month ahead. Firstly, I’ll have to get up early. I can’t actually remember the last time I needed to set an alarm. Even though church bells wake me EVERY morning I certainly don’t get out of bed until I’ve checked my mail, looked at the weather forecast and played Words With Friends on my phone. Then, correct me if I’m wrong, I think I’m going to have to use my brain for tasks slightly more complex than mapping routes, organising tickets and buying groceries. I know for certain too that my thriving social life is going to have to be put on hold for a while. As my circle consists mostly of an Italian girl I met at the cinema who is so busy studying four languages that we rarely see each other, and two ageing relatives on the outskirts of town, I don’t think this is going to be a problem and have only really mentioned it to get your sympathy. There’s going to be lots of homework and assignments, study every night and all weekend.
In retrospect it really doesn’t sound that bad. The workload is heavy but seems manageable. And it’s just one month. However, when I applied to do the course way back in November, then when I passed the entrance exam and the interview, and finally even when I paid a small, non-refundable fortune to enrol, I failed to acknowledge that the single, most important component of being a teacher, is that you have to stand up in front of a class and talk. Oh shit, I’m so crap at that! This week I’ve been reliving twenty-five years of fumbled design presentations and sick days used up to get out of team building exercises. I just don’t do public speaking very well. When my nerves kick in I mange to forget every word I’ve ever known my entire life. But worst of all is that I ALWAYS turn the brightest shade of crimson, which is so impossible to hide that I can’t even fake confidence. Oh. My. God. What was I thinking!
I AM terrified, that is evident. But I’m excited too. Excited about having something to sink my teeth into, a focus, a purpose. Excited about what doors might open for me when I am qualified, where I could go, what I could do. Excited even about the small things like walking past the Colosseum every day on my way to school – that’s going to be hard to take. And I’m also proud if I’m allowed to be. Proud that I’m jumping in headfirst and taking on another new challenge on this journey. That’s why I came wasn’t it?
See you when it’s over.