Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back to School

Before I blog about my weekend in Barcelona, I wanted to write about Thursday. I found the high school (in Italy they are called liceo) without any trouble thanks to new directions, maps, and a phone number in case I got lost. The school, Liceo Farnesia, is in a nice, residential area of Rome but is hard to notice since it is gated. I had to press a call button for them to open the gate for me. I guess about 1,300 students go there, so that was a huge difference from what I'm used to. When I went in the front office and asked for the teacher I was going to shadow, they didn't even know who she was. That's how many people work there!!

There is a main building at the liceo with the gym, offices, a few classrooms, and the bar (sort of like a cafeteria, but the students buy their own food there--from panini to chips and other snacks, and even cappuccino and espresso--in mugs, not Styrofoam). Then there are separate buildings with the rest of the classrooms. These buildings are kind of like trailers and even the Italians know they aren't the prettiest things to have class in. There is graffiti on the metal walls and they get cold in the winter so the students mostly kept their jackets on. Another difference here is that the teachers switch classrooms while the students stay in the same rooms all day. Their day goes from 8-2 with breaks at 10 and noon and smaller breaks between classes, but other than that the students stay in their little trailer classrooms. According to the students themselves, this is because if they had to do the moving around, they would never get to class...they would be too busy hanging with their friends and walking too slowly to make it to class on time.

The classes I sat in on were all very interested in learning more about America. There were three different ones, an advanced history class and two English classes. The teacher worked with a few students in the corner of the classroom (I think individual assessment things) while I had the rest of the class to myself. They would ask me questions and I would answer plus I got to ask my own questions about growing up in Rome. A lot of their questions had to do with the economic crisis in America and how I felt about Obama--it was impressive how many political questions they had. They also wanted to know about colleges and how to apply, how to get scholarships, how it is different from high school, etc. And then in every class there were, of course, the usual high school questions: what kind of music do I listen to, do I eat a lot of hamburgers, do I watch The O. C., and they all wanted to know how I felt about Italian boys. I even got asked out by one of the students...but unfortunately he was 16.

It was a really interesting morning and the teacher asked me back, so I was happy about that. She also asked if I would be interested in tutoring her 16-year old daughter in English. I hope we can work that out somehow--then I'd be able to see an Italian home/family and make a little extra moneta (money) while I'm at it!

Hard to tell, but this is an Italian liceo from outside the gates.

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