I’m halfway through the course and, surprisingly enough, I’m managing to take gulps of air every so often. Like now. It’s Saturday night and I’m exactly where I’ve been almost every single waking moment of the past two weeks when I haven’t been at school or in transit – at my makeshift desk (a small kitchen table) in my room studying. I’m getting callouses on my elbows from permanently being attached to the keyboard of my laptop and my backside is widening from being seated for so long. Personal hygiene has become an item on my ‘to do’ list… holy fark, I’m busy.
The last two weeks have been a blur of seminars, lesson planning, assignments and teaching practice. Some days I have to take in so much information I think my head is going to explode. By 4.30 in the afternoon I’m ready to fall into a coma-induced sleep but know I still have hours of work to do at home. Most of us are getting to bed around 1am, sometimes later, preparing for the next days lesson, writing plans, making games. I’m often waking in the middle of the night thinking about things that need to change, and spend the mornings I’m teaching walking to school muttering what I’ve scripted to say under my breath like a crazy woman. (I’m fitting in quite well in Rome.)
The advantages of being a native English speaker are unquestionably being able to understand vocabulary, idioms and phrases – even the Italians don’t know ‘When in Rome…’. The disadvantages though are enormous – grammar, grammar, grammar! Who was it that decided English-speaking countries did not need to learn grammar at school? It’s slightly embarrassing when one of your students can explain the past perfect continuous to the class better than you can. Despite this I feel quite blessed as my colleagues are helping me a lot, and I in turn have become the unofficial vocabulary proof reader for all our assignments. Teamwork.
I couldn’t have asked for a better group of trainee teachers to be studying with. We are from Australia, Italy, Brazil, Ireland, Angola and the States. Seven women, and Jim, who is now ‘one of the girls’. Most of the time we are bug-eyed and delirious but we still have time for daily coffees and (slightly hysterical) laughs. We have to laugh really, the alternative would be tears and they would just smudge all the lessons we’ve spent hours preparing. I’m looking forward to some celebrating when we’re done.
It’s time for bed. Tomorrow is filled with, yes, you guessed it, more study. Thankfully it’s so bloody cold here that I’m happy sitting in my room next to the heater.
I’ll be back again in a few weeks. I’ve got exciting news… I’m moving to Tuscany.