ESE Study Abroad Blog
Week of December 4
I can’t believe we are in the single digit countdown to coming home! This has been such an incredible experience it’s hard to believe that we have less than 10 days left. One of the best parts of this experiences has been practicum. Teaching in an italian classroom has been incredible and nothing like what I expected. For starters, I NEVER expected to teach with my hands this much!! And I never expected to teach in a room with no technology. 2 chalboards. That was all I had.
I don’t know what I was expecting going into this experience. It never really hit me until I got into the classroom that I was teaching English to Italian students. When I walked into the room for the first day the students were so excited and all yelled “good morning” at me. That is why it did not hit me until after I sat down to observe and they all started yelling in Italian. I was attempting to make out the few Italian words I knew, like how to say pizza, pasta and thank you….but none of the students were using those. It was very overwhelming…but I was also excited.
My favorite lesson of this semester was by far the last lesson I taught, my Christmas lesson. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas, so it is obvious that this is by far my favorite subject to teach. Throughout the semester I always made it a point to integrate US cultures and traditions into my lessons whenever possible. I liked to show the students how things are different at home and give them as accurate of a picture of America as possible. When I taught the Christmas lesson we compared Christmas in Italy to Christmas in America and found many similarities and a few differences. For example, in Italy there are no stockings hung by the fireplace. When I was explaining it to the students they thought it was the coolest thing ever but did not understand how Santa could fit anything in a pair of tights!! During the lesson the students were decorating paper ornaments and hanging them up on the paper tree I placed at the front of the room. It was an indescribable feeling to be looking around the room at my little Italian 6th graders as they colored ornaments, writing English phrases on them and randomly bursting into song, with those songs being various American Christmas Carols. I saw the students writing things on their ornaments that I taught them weeks ago. It was such an incredible feeling to see that the students were actually learning and understanding what I was teaching them.
So now as practicum has come to a close, all the weekend trips have ended, and we are in the final single digit countdown, I am realizing more and more how grateful I am for this experience. It has changed me in ways I cannot describe, but I am so thankful for. Florence is a beautiful place to be able to call home for 4 months, but I think I am ready to be back in Friartown!!
Caitlin Whitaker ESE Study Abroad Blog Week of December 4 I can’t believe we are in the single digit... MORE
Ciao Friars! We are Kelsey and Julia, Elementary & Special Education majors here in Florence!
It is so hard to believe that the last few weeks of our time in Florence are already here! Our final day of practicum was on Monday…so sad to leave our students! Both of us taught in fifth grade English classes and the kids definitely could not have been any sweeter! For Julia’s last lesson, the students read Snowmen At Night by Caralyn Buehner and then completed a creative writing prompt about what they would do if they were a snowman that came to life at night. For Kelsey’s last lesson, the students learned about Possessives in English (‘s) while tying in Christmas and Caroling. The class had been practicing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “White Christmas” for the last couple weeks and were excited to show off to their English Professor Fracareta when she came in to observe. The goodbyes following the lesson were so bittersweet–students swarmed us in hugs and didn’t want us to leave! There were definitely lumps in our throats as we waved bye to our students.
As the semester comes to an end, we have realized how much this experience has taught us. We feel so much more confident teaching ELL students. Speaking slowly and clearly, providing visuals as well as multiple models, and differentiating are some of the tools I have added to my teacher tool belt. We are more confident with maintaining control of the class, getting defiant students to do their work and wanting to do their work, and teaching to the students not the class as a whole. There have been so many take-aways we have from this semester that we hope to carry with us throughout the rest of our teaching career. This experience has taught us how fun it is to teach ELL students. We know this will not be our last time working with ELLs. It has been amazing and we can’t wait to do it again sometime in the future. We will never forget this experience and will cherish every aspect that it has given us.
For our electives here, we both took a Mediterranean Diet class, complete with a cooking lab component. This class was really useful in teaching us more about the health benefits and ways to incorporate this diet into our everyday lives. The food was not too bad either 😉 We loved our professor (and chef!) Cecilia, who is pictured with us. This week we learned how to make couscous in our last cooking lab. It is definitely a recipe that we will try back at home in our own kitchens!
There is not a day that goes by where we are ceased to be amazed by Firenze! The city is so charming and unique. This time of year is really special. The entire city is decorated with sparkling Christmas lights, which illuminate the city at night. The view from our backyard is also incredible and continues to take our breath away… just the other day we saw a gorgeous full rainbow arching over the Synagogue, which is the view from our balcony.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere in Firenze! On top of all of the lights finally coming on, the Florence Christmas market opened on Wednesday. There is food from all around Europe and adorable little shops selling everything from soaps to ornaments to clothing. We are lucky enough to walk by the markets everyday when we go to classes. For our Italian class on Wednesday, we had to go to the market and interview an Italian with questions only in Italian. Definitely a little uncomfortable but such an experience. It is hard to walk into the market without smiling. It makes me feel like I’m at the North Pole! Only making it harder to accept the fact that we have to leave in two weeks.
Ciao Friars! We are Kelsey and Julia, Elementary & Special Education majors here in Florence! It is so hard to... MORE
Ciao from Firenze! We’re Hannah and Danielle and we are junior elementary and special education majors studying abroad this semester in Florence! We’ve been here for two and a half months so far and there is so much that we could talk about but we will keep it short and sweet.
It’s sunny and 60 degrees here in Florence this week, which is not the typical weather you’d expect two days before Thanksgiving, but we’re not complaining. Speaking of Thanksgiving, that is one of the strangest parts of being here, seeing all of our friends at home posting pictures of going home for the holiday and hearing our families plan their Thanksgiving dinners when in fact Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here. Luckily for us, our program directors are putting together little dinners for all of us so we aren’t completely missing out on the holiday and we get a little taste of home. In fact, since Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday that is celebrated here we’re both going to be on our way to different countries on Thanksgiving day, Danielle is going to London for the weekend and Hannah is going to Switzerland, so I guess you could say it’s a pretty worthwhile trade off for missing Thanksgiving.
Travel has been one of the best parts of our experience here. It is so easy to go to so many different countries at such cheap prices. Also being able to visit so many different countries that we didn’t know much about beforehand has helped us to learn so much more about other cultures and people from other cultures. We are so happy to have been able to see and experience so many new places and are sad that we are approaching some of our last trips of the semester.
Another great part about our time abroad has been living in Florence. This city has so much to offer. You can walk EVERYWHERE, no exaggeration, which is nice compared to some cities we have visited where you have to take a bus or taxi to get from place to place. The food of course is delicious. There are cafes, gelato shops, and Panini places around every corner with delicious coffees and foods. Also, the central market in Florence has an amazing selection of cheap and fresh food as well as a large leather market where bargaining is half the fun.
One of the best things that our program offers is the opportunity for us to student teach in the local Italian schools. This has truly been an eye-opening experience for all of us. Teaching an entire classroom of ELL students is one of the most rewarding classroom experiences we have had so far. It is definitely hard work planning the lessons extra carefully to make sure that our students will understand what we are teaching, but when the students understand and enjoy your lesson its worth every second. Danielle is in a fourth grade classroom this semester with twenty students and Hannah is in a third grade classroom also with twenty students. Although we weren’t exactly sure what to expect before we started teaching in the Italian schools, we are so grateful to have had this experience.
We could go on for hours, but we’ll end it there. Good luck to any sophomores currently making study abroad decisions, but just know that whatever you decide will be amazing. We have both loved every second of our experience abroad and know that you will too! Ciao for now!
Ciao from Firenze! We’re Hannah and Danielle and we are junior elementary and special education majors studying abroad this semester... MORE
Ciao Providence College students!I have been in Florence for the past 11 weeks and am loving every bit of it! I personally did not have a very hard transition and luckily haven’t been very homesick. So far, my teaching experience has been awesome! I am in a 6th grade classroom filled with 26 bright and well-behaved Italian students. When I first found out I was going to be in 6th grade, I was nervous because it seems so old. However, they are still young and seem to be much more mellow than a 6th grade class in America. Also, because they are older, they know more English which makes it easier to communicate with them. Communicating definitely has its challenges but using lots of hand gestures and speaking slowly works better than you would think. Their normal English teacher does not speak perfect English, so they are definitely
benefiting from being taught by an American. So far, I’ve taught them the verb to be, the verb to have, telling time, and family. I’m currently planning a lesson to teach them there is/there are. I have also done a lesson on Halloween and have one on Thanksgiving planned. The students enjoy learning about American culture and are excited when they have prior knowledge about it. Every lesson I’m reminded that the hours of lesson planning and preparing really pay off. It is definitely challenging balancing school work with traveling, but you learn to make it work! The semester has gone by extremely fast as it’s hard to believe I only have just about a month left. With this in mind, I plan to make the most of my teaching experience here and do the best I can to teach them English. It will definitely be interesting to go back to an American classroom and compare it to my experience teaching in Italy. I am very thankful for this opportunity and cannot wait to bring what I’ve learned back home! Although I am definitely going to miss my students here!Bridget Corcoran ’18
FUA had fall break during the last week of October, which gave many of us the cruel realization that we were already halfway through our study abroad experience.
While some people spent their break relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the Greek islands, a few of my friends and I decided to check multiple cities off of our travel bucket lists. Between 7 a.m. flights and many stops for coffee, we managed to explore Prague, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and London. I saw so many incredible things in those busy ten days, from amazing sights such as the London eye, to inspirational images such as the John Lennon wall, to places that make you think and question, such as the Anne Frank house. Traveling is by far one of the most enriching aspects of the study abroad experience, and this break reminded me of how lucky I am to have this opportunity!
Classes resumed on Halloween, and I returned to practicum to help my teaching partner with her Halloween lesson. The students were very enthusiastic about the lesson and loved getting to make Halloween masks, which they looked adorable in! The students from my 4th grade class put on a performance for some of the other classes, and it was so cute to see them dressed up and singing some Halloween songs.
Practicum can be challenging at times, as the language barrier is very obvious, but it has been by far my most rewarding placement so far. I have found that just being in an Italian school immerses me in the culture more so than anything else I have experienced so far. As you make your final decisions about applying for study abroad, I hope you consider the positive effects of teaching in a foreign country on your growth as a teacher!
Hello Friars! FUA had fall break during the last week of October, which gave many of us the cruel... MORE