- Categoria: Progetto Educhange
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Sofia’s experience in Italy as an AIESEC EduChange teacher assistant (January/February 2018)
When I decided with my family to do this experience, I had set some standards on what to expect. I wanted to let students know about the importance of culture, the need of sharing culture and understanding differences along with the need of knowing what’s going on worldwide. Aside from that, I didn’t think about researching about the educational system, I only expected my “usual”.
During my six weeks in F. Albert I’ve come to know the Italian educational system, the people, and its culture. I had three amazing host families, two Italians and a Rumanian, that helped me through my Italian experience, they taught me the train system, how to get to the main places, feed me with amazing food and supported me.
The first thing I noticed was that Italian eat a lot, they have a multiple course meal for dinner and sometimes lunch. Eating pasta and then a protein was something I never thought about in Chile. Aside from that, the fact that kids had to travel and pay that much for transportation shocked me, along with the fact that they don’t wear uniforms.
When I first got here, I was scared and wasn’t sure what to expect: I know Chilean, American and Australian education but not European. I was quite lost when I got my first schedule, it said 5CVS, 1AL, 3BL, 3BS and so on, I’m used to 1A, 1B, 1C but not the letters after.
After the first week I found out they have different types of school in the same building and that students must choose what they want to focus on when they finish middle school, something I wasn’t really expecting is that they have language and science school separated.
When I started talking during my first lessons, the kids didn’t take me seriously, probably because I was wearing clothes like theirs and I’m only a couple of years older. I also think they had problems with my English, as my pronunciation is a mix of Australian and American and speak fast. When I spoke in Spanish, it was worse because I talk even faster.
There’s a lot of independence for youth in Italy, they move around, can wear whatever clothing they like, style their hair however they want and choose whether they stay in school or leave when they’re quite young for good.
After understanding that school works differently I began to observe how different teachers taught their lessons: young teachers are the minority, so lessons are taught in a more traditional form, without much use of technology. Kids are usually not the most active with questions in classes, and they look pretty much like they’re sleep deprived when in class.
Teachers were also a challenge, some of them thought I was a replacement and, for example, without even talking to me or showing me anything, they threw me into teaching a lesson, it was scary because I was used to having a defined schedule of subjects, I don’t have to come up with much. That mixed with the kids’ stillness was one of the biggest challenges I had in the beginning.
Italian is a language that you study only in private Italian schools in Chile so I was really lost thanks to that communication barrier. First year students were quite lost without their teachers, we usually struggled with every type of communication if we didn’t have our phones.
My relationship with students was a mix of teacher assistant and big adviser, I told them about my country (although I didn’t expect to talk about recipes in a high school because cooking school is usually after high school in my country), about my school, my life and different international highlights, such as the UN, immigrations and economics.
Overall, I think I’m leaving Italy as a different person, I’m not the same girl that got here six weeks ago to affront this challenge of living and working under a cross cultural exchange experience. This experience challenged my standards of life, my way of approaching issues and I really hope I left something with the students because I’m leaving with so much. I enjoyed meeting different people, the differences between cultures, working with the students during the sportellos and this experience overall.
I would do it again, even though I’m really tired, it was extremely fulfilling.
About Italian culture and its school:
1. The restrooms in the school are extremely odd for me, they look like Chinese public restrooms.
2. They use the word “prego” for so many things that I still don’t know all the meanings
3. Pasta is cheap in the supermarket
4. They serve pizza in huge pieces and even French fries
5. High school schedule is shorter than primary and middle school
6. They have different type of schools in the same building
7. The school doesn’t have a yard where students hang out or play during breaks
8. Lunch time isn’t a thing in high school because they finish earlier
9. Students have several international experiences, such as exchanges or short stays in other European countries
10. Meals have several courses
11. Bread accompanies almost every meal
12. You can get bread already toasted at the supermarket
13. Peach tea is better than lemon tea, according to me
14. Students behave differently according to what school they attend and teachers treat them differently
15. Students have either a bad image or an extremely good one of their country
16. The school has a great technological support, something not even private schools have in my country.
Il 21/02/2018 gli studenti della classeV BC della sezione alberghiera hanno ringraziato Sofia per quanto ha insegnato loro, preparando per lei il “ loro pranzo cileno”, riveduto secondo alcune esigenze di preparazione, dovute alla impossibilità di reperire due ingredienti.