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A few month’s ago I went out on a couple of dates with a guy who was at the same conversation level at English as I am in Italian. We decided that we were going to try to help each other learn our respective languages… He would speak to me in English and I would correct him. Then, I would answer him in Italian and so on. Needless to say, it didn’t last long. The guy was nice enough but I just wasn’t attracted to him enough to keep going out on dates and I realized I was giving him the wrong impression. He kept trying to get me to make out with him and get into my pants… WRONG impression indeed! (Dating here is a joke but that’s a whole other post and one I am working on.) The point of this post is that, the few dates that we actually went on, when he wasn’t trying to ram his tongue down my throat, he kept telling me, “You can be English va bene (Okay) teacher a Italia.” “You are well for explaining yourself.” “You can make a bravissima l’insegnante! (teacher)”
Ok. Well, maybe not him…?
I’d had a few other people tell me same thing and then I met a friend of a friend who actually was a teacher and he said, “Why don’t you look into teaching English here?” So I went on-line and looked up courses to teach abroad. I know I don’t want to leave Italy. I also know that I don’t want to go back to the states. Whether I stay here or not really isn’t the point. The point was, “Do I really want to go back to the States??” Short answer, “NO!” I honestly had no idea that I was going to love it here as much as I do. But the fact is I do. I want to try to stay in Italy. I still haven’t been to the south yet! I haven’t even gone for a wine tasting at a real winery here! And most of all, I’m happy here! There have been some definite ups and downs. In some ways, more downs than ups. I haven’t been able to find a job, learning the language has been so much harder than I thought it would be. I froze my ass off this winter. There was the mold problem and making friends here has not been easy! I must be a glutton for punishment. I could go home and have a nice cushy American life, but why? My son is grown and my Mom has her own life. My family is doing their own thing and my friends there… well, the friends I have left are so spread out it’s not like we can just go out and have coffee together in the morning… So, I decided to attend TESOL school to teach English!! I am currently at the start of the fourth week of a four-week program and let me tell you… IT HAS BEEN HELL! I had no idea that being a teacher was so hard! I have always had a lot of respect for teachers and I realize that they don’t get half of the recognition they deserve (or the pay) but I had no idea the amount of time that goes into preparing lessons and the mental exhaustion from trying to get someone to learn even the simplest of phrases like…”Get Up.”
It’s no easy feat.
Let’s talk about grammar for a minute… I haven’t studied grammar since, quite possibly, the 7th grade?? That means I was 13ish. That means that I studied grammar 31 years ago! I can’t remember what a past participle is from a present continuous phrase. I can barely even pronounce P-A-R-T-I-C-I-P-L-E! Hell, I can barely remember what I did yesterday! And they want me to teach this shit on the third week of classes to people who can barely ask for my name?! Try it, I dare you! I guess in some ways I have been lucky because I have been just as lost trying to learn Italian, so I really understand how it feels to not know SHIT. I’m still sitting here trying to figure out if my “Beginner” class, that I had to teach on the third day of classes, understood anything I said. How are you supposed to teach someone their ass from their elbow when they don’t even know what an ass or an elbow is?? (OK, they know what an ass and elbow is, in THEIR language!)
And then, there are the distractions… My oh-so Cool classmates… There are four of us. There was five, but Burton, or whatever the hell his name is, had an either a serious case of ADHD or he was on meth. I never found out because he quit on the third day. He didn’t just quit… He went screaming out of the last class like his ass was on fire! We never saw him again. It was his third try. I don’t think he’ll be back… And then there were four… “The Brit” from Northern England has such a heavy North England accent I can never understand a word coming out of her mouth. On the second day of class, I told her she needed some damn subtitles. (I’m glad she has a good sense of humor…) She had a birthday this month and soooo we have spent quite a bit of time in my local watering hole, Viktoria Bar, with Paolo and Marco, (the hot twins) getting tanked. I believe that birthdays should be acknowledged all month and not just one stinking day! (Yes, all you over academic sorts… I know it isn’t too smart to go to school all hung over and shitty but there just wasn’t any choice…) And then, there was the Mother/Daughter power duo. Two fantastic broads from Canada, who you couldn’t help but fall in love with. The Mom is a teacher with an Engineering Degree and the daughter recently graduated from school with an Engineering Degree and she also tutors. (Real Dummies, those two…) So… they had a pretty good grasp on what was going on… I’m the mental midget in the class and they have been doing their level best to
put up help with me. They have been so bloody kind it’s almost painful at times! We all kind of help each other out and it’s made ‘re-learning’ all of this quite a bit of fun! The Mom and I are closer in age and the two girls are in their twenties and we all managed to get on just fine. Sometimes we have too much fun and spend too much time giggling! I’m sure we were just as much a distraction to the teachers as we are to each other. I’ve loved having some contemporaries around and I am going to miss them when they go home!
My other biggest distraction was one of my teachers. I don’t think I’ve had a crush on a male teacher in my life. Maybe, Mr. Bachert? He was a nice looking man, by my adult memory standards, but he was just a good teacher and I was 12. I was still only interested in horses at that point. The few that I did have, were just older and in the end, just teachers. NOT THIS TEACHER! I’ve never really been one to have a type, at least I don’t think I do, but when I think of the kind of guy I’m attracted to this guy fits the build. He’s not a big guy, but taller than me by an inch or so, he’s fit, got a nice head of hair, has kind eyes and a great sense of humor… He’s funny! Genuinely funny! But the thing that puts him over the top is his FANTASTIC British accent that makes me swoon… yes, I swooned!
To make matters even worse he speaks perfect, beautiful Italian! My teacher crush is so bad, that when he talks to me I find myself stuttering and stupid words are pouring themselves out of my mouth! I have reverted to the 7th grade version of myself, (when I finally did notice boys) I want to leave little notes in his backpack… “Do you like me? Circle YES or NO. And if it’s NO just pretend like you never found the note! I even had a moment when I wanted to walk up to him and smell him! I have been watching too much vampire shit! He really is that cute! I find myself NOT being able to make eye contact without a BIG GIANT GOOFY grin spreading across my face. I literally have to force myself to look away. AWKWARD… Like I said I’ve gone on a few dates here and they have not gone well, so I am forcing myself to lump him into the “Icky, Yucky, Bad Italian, “NO, I REALLY DON’T WANT YOU TO RAM YOUR TONGUE DOWN MY THROAT!”” ‘date’ category, just so I can focus on school. There has to be something wrong with him. Right??
I have spent countless hours the past 3 weeks trying to get my lessons right and have come to the conclusion that, I have no F-ing idea what I am doing. I never was a ‘A++’ student when it came to English grammar. And I doubt I ever will be. I do know how to spell most of the time and aside from countless run-ons, I know how to basically structure a sentence. At this point it’s too late to quit and too expensive. (This course WAS NOT cheap.) So, as soon as I pass my exam tomorrow, (of which, I am at the moment, NOT studying for, thank you, Word Press…) I will start actively looking for a job while I finish my Italian courses. With any luck I’ll find one and maybe I can attend a Uni here and make an attempt to finish my degree. I can picture myself perfectly content to freeze my ass off, battle mold and go on a few more crappy dates, for one or two more winters, while I try to figure it all out… If I don’t find a job here in Florence, I guess I can always go home and sit on the beach or try for Singapore, right??