The smell of fresh pizza, walking down a cobblestone street, and looking straight ahead at the beautiful landmarks like The Duomo and The Colosseum were the highlights of my winter break. I spent three weeks in Italy on a faculty-led trip through Pace’s School of Education to study educational systems abroad. My trip consisted of going to schools and teaching at all levels, seeing amazing sights, and eating delectable food.
Our first stop was Rome where we stayed in a charming hotel right in the center of all the action! We saw the great Coliseum, The Roman Forum, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, and the place of Julius Caesar’s death, which is now a cat sanctuary! On the holiday, we went to the Vatican and watched the Pope speak, which was an unforgettable experience. I experienced my first Italian Gelato and we got to mark our territory, “Pace 2019,” on the wall of a restaurant. We also took a day trip to a place called Herculaneum, a preserved version of Pompeii, followed by having the tastiest pizza I’ve ever had in Naples. Here we saw real skeletons trapped in the magma and remnants of old shops and homes left under the rubble.
When we arrived in Florence, we received an entirely different experience because we stayed split up in a three bedroom apartment which made us feel like locals! We found a coffee bar that we loved so much that we returned every morning and we tried steak Florentine, a signature dish in Florence! We visited the famous sites of the Duomo, the Statue of David, the Uffizi Gallery, and Ponte Vecchio. We hiked up 500 steps to the Duomo and could see all of the beautiful city of Florence from the top. We also visited an art high school, which had its own plaster gallery and art studios for things like fashion, jewelry making, graphic design and sculpting. From Florence, we took an amazing day trip to Venice where we saw the grand canals and the famous St. Mark’s Cathedral.
The last leg of the trip was to a tiny village called Tuscania. This town was so authentic and hardly anyone spoke English, an accepted challenge. Walking through this quiet stone village, eating cheap and amazing food from nice locals was so refreshing. We took a cooking class and made all sorts of food! Here we taught at a pre-school, elementary school, middle school and high school. I was floored by how smart the students are, they spoke English very well. Getting to teach lessons in these schools will forever change how I teach in my classroom when I graduate.
All in all, teaching and studying abroad changed my perspective on the world and what it means to be a teacher. Traveling abroad makes you see everything in a whole new light and changes the person you are.