Teaching English in Italy: Sanremo & Genova

Ciao a tutti!

This year I decided to fill a few empty weeks of my summer doing something that I love, and that I have actually spoken about on here before. After thinking that I probably wouldn’t return to working with LSF in Italy again, somehow I wound back up on the beautiful Ligurian coast for a couple of weeks ready to teach a whole new bunch of Italian kiddies! Two years ago I did the same thing- read about that here and had such a great time so I took the plunge and put myself up for it again- this time for two weeks. In my last post about working with LSF I explained everything, but the bare essentials of the job are:

-       Turn up at a beachside resort in Sanremo
-       Stay there for a week learning songs and games that you will use on camp to teach English
-       Have lots of fun during free time in the sea, at local bars and playing beach volleyball with glistening Italian men
-       Go to your camp, wherever that may be (you are allocated the day before you go!)
-       Stay with a host family during your stay, who will feed you and love you like their own child
-       Go to camp every day and sweat your tits off
-       Finish the two weeks of camp with a show that your darling, sweet Italian bambini will perform in perfect English to their weeping parents
-       Get drunk to celebrate that its over and you can stop sweating now
Working with a view!
I was placed in the lovely seaside city of Genova, with a sweet guy called Steffen. We got on very well and didn’t mind taking it in turns to nap during break time... He made camp a lot more enjoyable for me, because we actually only had 11 kids in the entire camp; 5 of which were in my class, making it a very quiet and more of a job for us to entertain them. Stef was constantly cracking jokes and making me smile, and I even arrived one morning at 8am to him meditating in the morning light of his classroom.. it was magical.

Host Family
My host family were by far the best part of the experience this time around for me. Part of the reason I wanted to work with LSF again is because I am now in my final year of an Italian degree, so living and breathing an Italian lifestyle would always be beneficial! My host family couldn’t really speak any English, thank god! So I was ‘lucky enough’ to speak only in Italian for two weeks solid. It did mean that I started to sleep walk and talk in Italian, which was a hilarious first for me.

My host family consisted of Mama Daniela, Papà Angelo, and 8-year-old twins Jenny and Gabriel (the cutest, most well- tempered children!) oh, and two little bunnies. I really struck it lucky with my family and felt so at home. Daniela treated me like her daughter and best friend- and she sends me a weekly photo of a gnocco’, or a very sexy man, and Angelo calls me “MY DARLING!” (always shouted) and tells me I will “never walk alone”. He is also a salsa instructor, and one day during dinner he pulled me away from my pasta/the table and just started dancing with me- with only the Italian news in the background keeping the beat. It was really funny and made me feel really at home.

Angelo’s simple yet tasty cooking blows the socks off any normal Italian restaurant in the UK. Every day he would prepare a ‘primo’ first plate of pasta followed by a ‘secondo’ main dish of meat, usually accompanied by salad or cooked vegetables in true Italian fashion. Breakfast isn’t really a thing in Italy, so when I made them all a classic English breakfast on my final Sunday before leaving, it really threw a spanner in the works when it came to lunch time and nobody was hungry! Ooooops.

I was a little disappointed when I was allocated to such a small camp, after experiencing a camp of almost 60 kids two years ago. However, it ended up simply being a totally different experience! Stef and I had to work together and work harder to entertain such a small amount of kids, especially in the first few days when everyone was finding their feet. I bonded with my class (the younger kids, aged 8-12) nicely, working my way into their hearts by letting them listen to their favourite songs, (which were secretly my favourite songs too), and also because I can speak Italian I was able to help the younger ones when they really couldn't communicate in English in some situations. We spent the day singing songs and playing games which aided their language learning, as well as doing classroom activities which focussed on teaching the language.

I said it before and I will say it again: I would recommend working with LSF or a similar organisation to anyone interested in: getting out of their comfort zone; travelling; teaching; meeting new people; enjoying incredible food every day; living with a host family, and getting paid to sing songs and drink wine on the beach for a week. I write about my teaching experiences in the hope to inform and inspire anyone else thinking of doing it, so if that’s you, stop thinking and just do it!
Lunch date....HOW CUTE!? 

Do you think you'd be interested in teaching at camp?

A presto!

Olivia x

Coffee Politics

Coffee. The dark nectar. The reason you make it to work with your eyes open. The glue that repairs broken friendships. An excuse to waste hours of the day chatting with a cute guy over a cappuccino slowly going cold… More than just a strong caffeine hit. And let’s not forget, it is the famous best friend of students worldwide. Coffee is way more than just a beverage. It’s one of the drugs least frowned-upon all over the world- and the dealers who know exactly how to perfect their product are the famously thirsty Italians.

Italian simplicity

Drinking coffee is a natural movement in an Italian’s day. It is so ingrained in their routine that they don’t even realise they’re doing it. “Prendiamo un caffè?” is not so much a question in Italy, it is a declaration that’s rarely resisted by the addressee.

To explain how habitual it is to drink a quick caffè (a single espresso) whilst out on the go, bars often have two prices for the same drink. Your bill depends on if you drink al banco or al tavolo (at the bar/at a table); obviously costing almost double for those cappuccino-drinking tourists who almost definitely need the table to support their DSLR camera-weakened arms as they slowly sip away.

On that note, let me tell you rule numero uno about drinking cappuccino in Italy: it is a breakfast drink and you are likely to incur an eye-roll (or two) when ordering after midday.

Coffee done wrong?

Outside of Italy, however, for example in the UK, we have a different attitude towards coffee. Obviously there are the usual grab-and-go to the office types, but from my experience as a twenty-something-year old student, going for a coffee in the UK is often a much more leisurely affair. Coffee dates can last between 30 minutes to an hour or more! We English don’t simply order a coffee and drink it without a chair beneath us- are you crazy? We utilise the time to catch up with friends and treat ourselves to a nice piece of pie while we’re at it!

The best cappuccino I have ever tasted in Rome!
Furthermore, unlike the simple flavours of classic Italian coffee, popular places such as Starbucks and Costa in the UK give the opportunity for the double-shot-skinny-vanilla-latte-with-a-dash-of-cinnamon-or-cocoa-when-feeling-frisky drinkers to also join the party, often following fashions and celebrity trends.

So, what is the correct way to drink coffee? After living in Italy for the past 6 months, I have experienced both the quick caffè and the hours sat with numerous cappuccini being delivered to my table in my favourite cosy coffee shop. I have come to the conclusion that there really is no right way of drinking coffee. To avoid looking like a tourist in Italy it is important to obey the ‘midday rule,’ but apart from this, I would say that anything goes.

P.s, here’s a recent article declaring fashionable Starbucks’ entry into the Italian coffee market! How do we all think that’ll go?