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
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
On Monday, November 16th, Dr. Hauerwas extended an invitation to me and my friend Brooke, also studying in Florence through the PC ESE program, to attend an English teaching class at the University of Florence. Initially, I thought we would be sitting off to the side of the class observing the English teacher teach the Italian elementary education students. However, that was not what the Italian professor had in mind.
Dr. Guerin asked us to discuss the different elements of our lesson plan structure to the class. Normally, that would not be a problem. However, this was a class of 300 Italian students whom I did not know if they would be able to understand us at all. Brooke and I stood in front of the class and went section by section through our lesson plan format, describing the main components as well as examples of information you would find in each section of the lessons we both brought along. The class seemed very interested in what we had to say.
The English teacher explained to Brooke and I that the structure of the Italian University has them learning the theories discussed in education for the first two years. It is not until the third year they begin their internship and start observing students in a school setting. That struck me as very interesting because from the start the program PC offers requires some amount of interaction with school-aged kids, whether in the classroom or in an after school program, starting freshman year. Because the group of students we were presenting to was a group of third year students, they had a lot of questions about lesson plans in general. It was really nice to be able to share and compare teacher education programs internationally.
Following our presentation, groups of Italian students came up to present their final project topics to the professor and class. The final project required the students to incorporate theories they had learned in class to a lesson. The lesson utilized a piece of literature and five concepts they were going to cover when teaching English to the first year group of students in an Italian primary school. The project asked for an overview of the curriculum for the year, month to month, week to week, and day to day if the group chose to split up the responsibilities required of the project in that manner. Since the Italian students have not been asked to write lesson plans at this time, it is more informal. They explained daily procedures as well as specific activities that they were planning to implement when teaching the youngest group English.
I’d be interested to read some of the final projects and see if the structure of the Italian teacher education program prepares them to complete this project with realistic assumptions and expectations of their students. Although the theory is necessary to learn, as you are becoming a teacher, the experience you gain from working with students directly is not something you can learn from a textbook. That’s my personal opinion. Overall being involved in this experience is truly a representation of the unique experience I have had studying abroad compared to being in the US.
On Monday, November 16th, Dr. Hauerwas extended an invitation to me and my friend Brooke, also studying in Florence through... MORE
Hello fellow edu majors! As the days begin to get darker a little bit earlier, and the warm Florence air has been replaced with a crisp, autumn breeze, it seems that we are in the home stretch of returning home back to the states, which is definitely a bitter sweet feeling. I think this point in the semester is such a nostalgic time, as you look back at all the places you’ve been and the things you’ve seen, and realize you only have a limited time to cross any final things off your bucket list before going home. Just yesterday my friends and I had the once in a lifetime experience of seeing the Pope! He literally drove right by my apartment, in his Pope-mobile, nonetheless. Another crazy experience which happened to my friend and fellow edu major, Meaghan Creamer, was finding her picture on the cover of an Italian newspaper, as she completed a local half marathon!
As I reflect back on so many of the things I have done throughout my study abroad experience, such as drinking a beer at Oktoberfest, having a croissant in France, riding a gondola in Venice, sailing the Mediterranean with my family for Fall Break, amongst so many other clichés, you come to realize how very few people can say they’ve also seen and done these things.
As someone who was a bit apprehensive about leaving home, and my small, quaint Connecticut hometown, I can firmly say that going abroad was the right decision. With the great friendships you make, and the indescribable memories you will take away from this experience, missing home (and Dunkin Donuts ice coffee) seems like such a small price to pay.
Corny Study Abroad Tip: Take every chance, drop every fear!
Here are some of the highlights from my experience thus far:
Savona, Italy (View from the cruise ship)
My friend and I, on a gondola in Venice.
The Pope driving by my apartment!
Hello fellow edu majors! As the days begin to get darker a little bit earlier, and the warm Florence air... MORE
Hello Everyone! I am writing this blog post as I return home (Florence) from Copenhagen, Denmark … My third (of 8) countries that I will be visiting here while I am abroad. Let me begin by saying that I am a homebody, I come from an extremely close family and I also have a twin sister, who is back home in the United States. So for the past 19.5 years of my life I have always said no to “Studying Abroad.” And I thank God every day that I (eventually) decided to apply to the study abroad program.
I don’t think I have ever once been homesick here in Florence. Sure I have had those times where I wish I could experience these things with my family, but its never put a damper on any of my experiences. The best thing about the Providence College Education Study abroad program is that you’re surrounded all the time with education majors from Providence. These girls (and guys) become your family, in your home away from home. You’ll find yourself running to class with them … gelato in hand, taking 12 hour bus rides just to say you’ve been to Croatia, or devouring two entire pizzas without a second thought (Yes you’ll learn to order your own pizza here … and eat it all within minutes too.)
Today, traveling home from Copenhagen, in the Zurich, Switzerland airport, a barista from Starbucks asked me where I was traveling. I explained to her that I would be going back to Italy because I am studying abroad there. As she handed me my Starbucks she said ‘Have a safe flight home … Does Italy feel like home?” And without even a thought I quickly answered, “Yes, it really does.” So if you have the opportunity to study abroad … DO IT!
Study Abroad Tip: Go beyond your comfort zone. You never know what you are capable of unless you try!
Here are pictures in Italy and Copenhagen with PC Edu Majors!
The picture above was taken in Copenhagen at a place called Cristiania also know as Freetown Cristiania. We learned a lot about the place because it’s separate from the European Union and functions as it’s own community. It was really interesting to see the buildings and artwork because their entire community is build by hand.
Hello Everyone! I am writing this blog post as I return home (Florence) from Copenhagen, Denmark … My third (of... MORE