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! Study abroad so far has been an incredible experience. I wish that I could tell you everything about this semester so far, but I will try to keep it short! First and foremost, I taught my first lesson on Monday. I am in a sixth grade classroom (I have previously only been in kindergarten-3rd grade classrooms) teaching English to Italian students. The students are at a very low proficiency level and I am currently working on my lesson for next Monday. I can already see that this semester will be very challenging in terms of practicum, but I have also been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Imagine teaching a classroom a new language-that’s pretty amazing. This semester I will be using a variety of different strategies to reach my new students including multimedia presentations, interactive games, and role playing dialogues. I am excited to see myself grow this semester and continue working toward being the best teacher that I can be.
If you are thinking about studying abroad, here are some more reasons that you definitely should:
1. The Food: The food in Italy is typically fresh, natural, and traditional. I am taking a Food, Culture, and Society class in which we learn all about the food culture and traditions in Italy. We also participate in cooking labs and different food tastings. The food around the world has also given me the opportunity to try different dishes that I have never even heard of back in the states (although I do miss Chicken Nugget Thursdays).
2. Personal Growth: The pictures may indicate that study abroad is four months of living fabulously in a glamorous new city. While study abroad is a wonderful opportunity to travel and see the world, it isn’t always easy. I have had intense moments of missing home, my family, and Friartown. I have struggled with adjusting to a new city that has very different customs from that I am used to. However, these aspects of study abroad push you to pretty much grow up. You will become more of an adult here for many reasons. You can’t just go to Ray when you’re hungry and you can’t always call your mom or talk to your friends that live down the hall from you. It’s a different world here but you will grow into a mature, sophisticated, worldly traveler.
3.The Travel: On most weekends I am able to visit a new place. Each country seems to be a different world! I have been to Croatia, Germany, and Denmark so far. I have plans to also visit Prague, Budapest, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I feel as though each city opens my eyes a little more to how diverse and ever expanding the world can be. Each new place holds a little piece of my heart and makes me fall in love with traveling the world more and more. I want to give a special recognition to Dachua, the concentration camp site in Germany. This was the most powerful place I have ever seen; I can’t even put it into to words. I learned to go to places that make you think and feel, not just places with pretty views.
Ciao Friars! Study abroad so far has been an incredible experience. I wish that I could tell you everything about... 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
Hi fellow EDU majors! Let’s just start off by saying I love food. When coming abroad all I could think about was the amount of pizza, gelato, and cheese ravioli I would eat. However, it wasn’t until I got here that I realized how much those costs could add up. In order to save money I started to cook my own meals…if only I knew how to cook. Early on in the semester I figured out that I had to teach myself. At first, I was nervous about it, and just wanted my moms home cooked meal. But as the semester has gone on I have grown a liking for cooking. This week we have midterms and I have found that cooking is my break in the day, and I look forward to it. One meal that my roommate and I cooked is chicken parmesan. In order to do so we made a quick call to my mom so she could send us the recipe. Teaming up with my roommate we went to Conad (the grocery store here) with the goal of making chicken parmesan set in our minds. We cooked it in our apartment reading over the steps on the recipe, and the work paid off. Abroad you will learn to be more independent and one of those ways you gain independence is through learning how to cook! Now when it comes to dinnertime I am excited to make food. It will be so helpful when I am back in Providence to have the ability to make something and not have to go to Ray or Alumni.
Being abroad is all about adventures, and exploring. Just this past weekend my roommate and I were studying for our midterms, when we needed a break. As we left a store we were in, we noticed that it was just about time for the sunset. In that moment we decided we should go watch the sunset over the city at Piazza Michelangelo. The view once we got to the top was beautiful, however the walk over was just as pretty. In Florence I will often be walking to class finding myself looking around, always in awe of what is around me. When walking to watch the sunset I walked past this view, and couldn’t help but take a picture. Every day here in Florence is another day of finding something beautiful. I find I don’t just walk to class with my head down, but rather up so that I can look around at everything in Florence.
Hi fellow EDU majors! Let’s just start off by saying I love food. When coming abroad all I could think... MORE