To honor to my sixth month here in Rome (which sadly will be also my last) I would like to share with you today some VERY informal thoughts on what I learned in Italy. I will take you back to 11 August 2016, the day I arrived here in the beautiful Rome. The sun was shining and it was a summer day like all others in Italy so the streets of Rome were full of Romans (surprise! They don’t go on vacation that much: Rome is a really busy town), which brings us to the first thing you should learn in Italy…
For centuries Rome has been the capital of the Roman Empire, impressing people from all over the world with its magnificence and its stunning melting pot of cultures and artistic styles. When you visit Rome you should make sure to admire at least a spark of this art and make some time to travel back in history…
When I moved to Rome as an expat, everyone I knew was daydreaming about “the Italian boys”. Italian boys are more a category of spirit than an actual group of people: you know, those guys that know how to love and teach you how to be loved, that take their special one on romantic dates at least twice a week and are still frozen in time with all their gentlemen manners…
E’ quello che abbiamo chiesto ai nostri studenti di Italiano di livello B2, sperando che loro notassero aspetti della cultura italiana che noi nativi, anestetizzati dalla routine culturale, non siamo più in grado di evidenziare. Le risposte, a volte, sono sorprendenti! 😀
I step through the worn wooden doorway and am greeted by a rush of air that caresses my cheek. The candles that hang in lanterns cast a soft illumination, and I breathe the warm scent of old incense. I can hear the laughter of my friends drift down to hushed whispers as I lead the way in, bowing my head to the statue of Jesus that watches over those who have entered. As I raise my eyes, the calm atmosphere brings my aching heart a bit of comfort. In these last intense weeks of college finals, saying goodbye to the study-abroads, and packing up for the summer, this tranquil place gives me a sense of peace…
I have been called strange many times in my 20 years, usually for different reasons, however since moving to Rome I have found that the number one reason now is that I like riding the buses. When I have to go somewhere I go early enough so that I can still make it to my destination if I have to ride two or more buses; and while all of my friends loathe taking the bus, I will take one even if they decide they want to use the metro or a taxi. There are many reasons that I prefer the buses over the other forms of transportation here in Rome, and today I’m going to list them for you. Maybe you too will become a bus lover ;).
Sitting down at an outside table, I set my cappuccino on the table and dig into my beat up purse to find my notebook. The sun is relentless today and sitting under the large crimson umbrella that blooms over the middle of my table is the only reason my skin isn’t lobster red. I put my purse under my seat and open my notebook, then turn my head to look out into the square. In the middle rests a large fountain, with steps leading up to see into its waters. Art students are perched all over it and look around the square as I do, reminding me of a flock of pigeons, their heads bobbing up and down as they draw. Speaking of pigeons, they of course are all over the place. I remind myself not to drop any of my sandwich when they bring it to me, because otherwise death-by-pigeon will be on my coroner’s report.
Sipping my cappuccino, an elderly couple walks by with a fat dachshund, who is merrily waddling along in front of them. A lady passes them going the opposite way and honestly I’m impressed at how well she is walking on the old cobblestones, which are riddled with cracks and holes. I can barely manage to walk on them in flat shoes. Brava, lady, brava. An elderly woman stands in front of the church across the street begs for money from anyone who walks in or out; and I have to look away, because its painful to watch. I try to give money when I can, but I can barely afford to feed myself as it is.
The birds’ chirping is a sweet melody that twines together with the smell of the lavender plants that blanket many of the buildings in the square, and its calming qualities make me lean my head back and just listen. With my eyes closed I can hear the clicks of someone’s shoes pass my table to go into the bar, and a deep voice bellows out a cheerful greeting that is reciprocated wholeheartedly from the female bartender. I imagine they are old friends, who see each other everyday and yet never run out of things to talk about. And as they begin to chat loudly among the tinks of the china and the bubbling of steamed milk, my mind wanders to a different sound. I assume one of the street musicians has set up shop somewhere near the fountain because now there is some lovely violin music drifting steadily to my ears. Oh, he is playing Ave Maria I realize, and find a newfound love for whoever this street performer is, because that is one of my favorites.
I hear footsteps approaching and slowly open my eyes to the crimson umbrella above me. I can see little dots of sunshine peaking through, which dance and sparkle when I move my head. Wow people probably think I’m high right now I think to myself and crack a smile.
“Signorina, il tuo panino.” Says a handsome bartender who is hold a plate with my sandwich. I smile and take it from him with a Grazie. Setting it down, I take the last sip of my cappuccino and once again have to remind myself not to feed the birds, even if a little brown one just happened to land near me and chirp with an otherworldly cuteness. As I breathe in the hot Italian air filled with lavender (and now salami from my sandwich), and I hear the birds and violin sing in a natural harmony, I set my cup down and sigh with content. I am the luckiest girl in the world if I can call this beautiful place my home, even if only for a short while.
Hello again! This weeks article is about what to look for in a language school. As someone who went to a language school to learning Italian, I can say that I have some experience with this. I’m talking about going to a different country and learning through immersion as well as taking a class. There are multiple benefits to this, because you aren’t learning just the language, you are learning the culture, which is very important. So for those of you who may be looking for a language school but aren’t sure which one to pick, here you go! This is what to look for in a language school.
Small classrooms are great, because not only does that mean smaller class sizes and less people, it also means that you can really get to know the people around you. If you make friends with your classmates you can go out and practice the language together. And for those of you who are shy at first, getting to know you classmates can help you not feel as scared to answer a question the teacher poses at the class. It’s also better for one-on-one questions with your professor before and after class because there won’t be a huge crowd waiting to talk to them.
Native speaker teachers
If you are in a classroom with a teacher that speaks the language as a mother tongue, you are golden. Not only will they make sure that you are pronouncing words correctly, they also know the language in a way that you can’t. They are the key that unlocks your ability to speak like a native, so this bullet is an important one. Also you can get special help, for example, when I went to the Kappa Language School here in Rome, my teacher and I would meet in the classroom about an hour before class, and I would read out loud in Italian. Not only did this help my pronunciation, it also gave me new vocabulary to study and reinforced the things that I was learning.
Teachers that actually care about your progress
I can even use the example from the bullet before for this one. My teacher spent and hour everyday, of his own time, to listen to me butcher his language while I read The Lightning Thief in Italian. He didn’t have to do that, but he put in the extra effort because he wanted me to succeed. You want to find a school with teachers like that. He became a good friend, and that’s another benefit, you can make friends with your teachers. In addition to that, if you have a teacher who is excited to teach, then you will be excited to learn. And on those cloudy days, when everything seems grey and you don’t want to come in to learn, because you feel like you aren’t getting any better, they are more then willing to help you cheer up and show you how far you have come.
The School organizes outings and events
Okay, now this one is pretty important too. If the school organizes events and trips, it really shows that they are trying to get you immersed in the language. They want to show you their culture and to practice not only with the natives, but also the other students who are in more advanced classes. You can see your progress when you talk to the people who are in less advanced classes, and that is encouraging, because it really shows you the progress you’ve made and how far you have come from the beginning. It’s usually a good environment and you make friends with people you didn’t know before and have a great time with people who have the same goal as you.
Alright, that’s the tips that I have. You want to make sure you find a school that fits you, and for me, these are the things that I looked for. If you have anything else you think I’ve missed or have a suggestion, please comment below!