Monday, 30 September 2013

Culture Shock round II

Is it even still possibile to get culture shock after being in a country for four-ish years? To my surprise, I think it is!

Til now I've been working in quite international English speaking environments but I recently started a new job in a school in the city. The work's very interesting and providing lots of personal and professional growth, but... it's just so so different from the schools I went to in England.

Firstly, like in most private educational establishments in Italy there are nuns. Before I came to Italy I always imagined peaceful saintly beings showering the world and everyone in it with Jesus's love. So I was quite disappointed when I arrived at my first nun-run school to do a cover lesson. The nun at the door was not happy to see me and told me off for being 10 minutes too early!


To be fair a couple of the nuns at this school are smilingly serene, but mostly they can silence a room of children, or even teachers, with one glance. I'm still getting into trouble regularly :)

Secondly, I spent four hours in meetings on Friday afternoon and by the end of it I was SO CONFUSED. It's not totally the fault of not speaking Italian well enough. It's mostly that the concepts and terminology are totally foreign. A 'settimana bianca' is apparently a ski trip and I've still not figured out what 'laboratori' are, but they're starting next week. Also it doesn't help that all the teachers are either talking over the top of each other or shhhing everyone like mad depending on whether it's their turn to speak or not. For my part I can't yet get my sentences out without hesitating and so get constantly interrupted. Maddening!

Church services and prayers are also a disaster. I can't understand what's going on at all and I can't do the Catholic sign of the cross thing, so I can't even make a pretence of following.

Thirdly I have well over 200 students' names to learn and Italian parents really like the names Giulia, Giovanni, Beatrice and Leonardo. So far I've only learnt the naughty ones. Only about 170 more to go then!

They all sit in rows.

On the plus, although things seem to be organised at the last minute or even thirty minutes after the last minute, the staff seem to be pretty friendly, and very flexible and good at what they do.


Rowena said...

I went to Catholic school for 8 years, and while we did have mainly saintly nuns, it's that mean ONE (or two) that spoils the whole bunch. Really shocking to read that you were told off for being early!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I know exactly how you feel! Culture shock comes and goes and I still sometimes get it, even after 8 years - and I'm a qualified Italian teacher! The good news is that culture shock doesn't last forever!