It ain’t over til the fat lady sings (idiom). Definition: that one should not assume the outcome of some activity until it has actually finished. It is a perception of Grand Opera, with its stereotypically overweight sopranos… or of an Australian trapped
in an Italian hell of carbohydrates and cheese.
Meaning check question
Was the fat lady singing? (yes)
Is she singing now? (no)
Does this mean that CELTA has finished? (hell yeah!)
CELTA is over. Officially. Thankfully. Finally! I am now proudly qualified to teach English to speakers of other languages. Yay, I say. But the word comes out weak, unstressed and without intonation. I am so bloody tired that I can’t even comprehend what having this qualification means right now.
What a ride my fellow trainees and I have been on this past month. I remember back to one of the very first lessons, when our tutor Elizabeth likened us to being hamsters on a continuously rotating wheel – she wasn’t wrong. We have spent the past four weeks chasing our tails in a never-ending spiral of teaching practice and classes, trying to apply everything we have learned to everything we do. Each class was full of new techniques, new terminology, new methodology. And handfuls of photocopies that I am sure none of us really know what to do with now.
Each day the pressure increased to improve our teaching skills and apply the ‘communicative approach’ to everything we did. To monitor more and talk less. To formulate questions not statements, spreading not echoing, illustrating instead of explaining. MCQs became a swear word… we had to meaning blood check everything! We came to realise that if we didn’t contextualise the students wouldn’t understand, and that everything revolved around our aims. It was like learning a new language, one of which I still don’t quite understand. Apparently I’m not meant to yet. I will have light bulb moments so I’m told.
Thank God for Skype, Facebook and email. These kept us all in touch with each other so we could ask questions, swap files, freak out. Grammar was taught, assignments proofread. I would often get texts from colleagues at midnight asking me how I was going and if I was finished planning. I wonder how people actually studied in the past without all this technology. I think it would have been a lot harder.
Thank you to my beautiful fellow trainees. I can’t imagine how I would have made it through without your support. It has been wonderful to get to know you these past weeks. I am reminded of my early years in London and of how, when you are thrown into a new situation with a group of people from all walks of life, you bond in a special way and friendships are formed. I hope to keep in touch with you all for a long time to come.
So where to from here? A bit of normality would be nice. Like sleep. A massage. A haircut. I’d like to start eating vegetables again as I’ve forgotten what they taste like. I’d read stories of people who’d lost weight on CELTA. Not me. Maybe they had someone cooking for them. Or it was summer and they lived on salads. I bet they didn’t develop an addiction to pastries from the local coffee shop. We kept telling ourselves we ‘needed’ the sugar. My clothes have started complaining.
And pack. I’m leaving Rome next week so I’ve a bit to do before then. I’ve been here three and a half months and to be honest I’m ready to go. I haven’t hated Rome, but I haven’t loved it either… I don’t think this is where I am meant to be. It’s ironic that as I’m just about to leave I’ve made some new friends and have finally formed the beginnings of a real life here… it was just starting to come together. Still, it’s time to go, my next adventure is about to begin. I’m going to help manage a boutique hotel and winery in Maremma for the next six months and I’m very excited. It’s a leap of faith into the unknown so I’ll be better informed in the coming weeks. Think vineyards, olive groves, serenity.
In the meantime I’m off to London to recoup my energy, visit friends and galleries, feast on Asian food and roast dinners… I do not want to see another bowl of pasta for a while. And I have to say goodbye to my cool, ‘very Italian’ neighbourhood Testaccio, the ‘tomato man’ at my local market who always gave me a great selection to try, and of course I must throw an obligatory coin into the Trevi to ensure my return to the eternal city.
Arrivederci Roma, it’s time for us to part… for now.