All Roads Lead to Rome

Practicum Fun and Other Adventures

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Sorry I’m a terrible blogger …

So I’ve been back in the States for almost two weeks now and I haven’t finished up this blog. Yikes! I have good reasons though, a whole slew of events took place as soon as I landed so I kept forgetting this bloggy thing even existed. So I’ll update you on our last few days in Rome and my hellish journey home (it involves a lot of crying, brace yourself).

On Thursday (also our last day at school), we went out for our last group dinner. The restaurant was literally across the street from our apartments and it was amazing! I’m so sad we didn’t go there sooner! One of the best meals I’d had in Italy, hands down. Its meals like that that make me want to go back again and again. Italians know their way around a kitchen, thats for sure. We also went out to a summer disco pub that night. Strangest place ever, they had really weird hired dancers and a funny band playing. And all the dancers and band members was dressed up like it was a circus. Ooooook, then. 

Our last Friday in Rome we did a lot of wandering and last minute shopping. There are some fun markets only a few blocks from our apartment so we finally browsed through those. A lot of us bought a few last minute souvenirs and gifts. It was nice getting to just walk around Rome, it seemed like our entire trip we were either on a tour of Rome, walking just to the bus stop or the market, or gone for the weekend. We all sort of realized how homey Rome had started to feel and how much we knew about the city. Oh, and we also tried out the most delicious sandwich place. It’s seriously the Italian equivalent of Jimmy Johns. Giant board of sandwich choices, amazing bread, and super speedy service. It was so good we ended up going back the next day! 

Saturday morning, a few of the group left for the airport. It was really strange realizing that everything was actually coming to an end. But I didn’t have much time to fully realize it was my last day because we left pretty early for our tour of the Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. Our tour guide from our first weekend in Rome led the tour for us. It was nice having someone who already knew us and she made everything really interesting. There is SO MUCH STUFF in the Vatican museums. Marble busts and statues everywhere, its nuts. Once again it was odd to be seeing things that you’ve studied in school. Like the Sistine Chapel (out of this world cool) and Raphael’s School of Athens. Then we entered St. Peter’s Basilica. Probably the largest building I’ve ever been in, multiple football fields could fit in there. Its the biggest cathedral in the world and to prove it they have markings down the center showing where all the other big cathedrals would end. Its hard to describe because I kind of walked around in a daze thinking “This is sooooo big”. Eloquent right? But really its too hard to comprehend how gigantic it is. It was pretty cool though to finally go in the building we’ve been walking past twice a day for almost a month.

After the tour we grabbed some lunch at the sandwich place again (told ya). And then we set off to do some more shopping and roaming. That night those of us that were left went to dinner at the pasta place where we had eaten our first Roman lunch. The group had been back a few times since (Kyle’s total ended up being 8!) but this was only my second time. Seriously good pasta and pretty much everything else. It was nice to have one last dinner with everyone. After dinner, a few of us went down the street to a bakery we had found in our last week here. We seriously found all the great places our last week there. I wanted to get a chambella for breakfast (these giant sugar covered doughnuts, aka heaven in your mouth) and a couple Italian cookies to take home to the family. After our bakery run, we headed home to the apartments. As we were walking through St. Peter’s Square, Kyle HAD to say “Hey guys this is your last time walking through here!” Cue crying and asking an old Italian man to take our picture with the Basilica in the background. We walked through that place probably over fifty times during our time in Rome. It was so natural to see this amazing structure everyday. I actually miss it. You can miss a building, right? Ok good.

The next morning was go time. I left with three other girls at 8:30am for the airport. I was flying with a different airline so after we dropped them off at their terminal, I rode with Kyle to mine. We had to wait around awhile because I was too early to check-in but it was a breeze after that. But once I was on the plane and we were somewhere over France, a flight attendant informed me that I wouldn’t make my connection in Heathrow. I thought it was strange since I had over an hour and a half layover, not a lot of time for Heathrow but I figured I should be fine. But I assumed she knew what she was talking about and let her book me on another flight.

Once we landed in London, I went to the service desk like the attendant told me to do and finished booking my new flight. The guy took care of my baggage (supposedly) and gave me a new boarding pass but told me I would need to go to another desk at Gate A10 to get a seat once I was through security. So I get through security fine and go to A10, which is a level below the main terminal level so you take an elevator down. As I am looking for the service desk, I see a flight still boarding few passengers for Philly around the time my original flight home was supposed to take off. So I check my old boarding pass and what do you know, its my old flight! Almost in tears at this point because I’m confused, tired, and just want to get home, I go up to the desk and (through tears) ask if I can still get on since this was my original flight. The lady says no because my baggage had been switched and there wasn’t enough time to move it again. Full on crying now (told you there was going to be tears) I ask where this service desk I’m supposed to find is. Apparently its in front of the A10 elevator with a bunch of seats in between, great directions first desk dude.

So I go to the desk and tell the lady my story of seeing my original flight leave without me. She says sorry with this deadpan look and says she’ll get me a seat on my new flight in just a few minutes. Joy. So I sit down and try to control myself. Within 5 minutes she gives me a new boarding pass and tells me my new flight is boarding downstairs. Um what? No time to email anyone to let them know that I am now landing in Dulles and taking a connection to Philly which gets me home almost three hours later than I was originally supposed to. Awesome. So I get on my plane, headed to Dulles, and figure oh well its just a hot mess (still kinda sorta crying, see a theme?).

As so as the plane touches down in D.C., I get out my phone and call Jordan since he was the one in charge of picking me up from the international terminal (my aunt was arriving around the same time, so thats where mom was) to tell him where I was and what had happened. So that is all straightened out. Then I get through customs and go to get my luggage (because I have to check it again) but guess what? My luggage isn’t there, it got sent to Philly! So, in tears, I fill out a lost luggage form so that they will just deliver it to my house and make my way to my new airline’s desk to print my boarding pass. From there I sprint to security, lovely people let me cut in front of them because my flight was leaving in 20 minutes (FYI this was my third time going through security that day), take a tram, finally get to my gate and on my teeny tiny plane. All while alternating between cursing (silently and not so silently) and crying. Let me tell you airport adventures are NO fun. Once in Philly I basically sprint out of the terminal to find Jordan to take me home. That big yellow car has never looked so wonderful. And that is my lovely story of how I got home from the most amazing trip of my entire life. Sorry for all the crying, it just happens.

Thank you all for reading this (even if only a few parts)! I hope you enjoyed my kiddos as much as I did and found my history freak-outs endearing instead of strange. I can’t believe I had such an adventure, it seems like a dream now that I’m home. Traveling is such an eye-opening experience and I hope I get to do more of it someday. I’m so thankful for all the experiences I’ve had and they have change me in a very good way. Maybe I didn’t earn as much Italian as I hoped to but I definitely learned a lot about myself; thats what counts, right?!

Ciao Ciao!


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Ciao Marymount!

Our last day at Marymount, so bittersweet. I definitely don’t feel like I had been there for four weeks already! Its crazy to think I will never see these kiddos again since I’ve grown so attached to them in such a short time.

After our SECOND TO LAST BUS RIDE I went to the bar for my last cappuccino, I’m going to miss those things. I love and dearly miss my gigantic cup of coffee but cappuccinos have been a pretty good substitute. Especially the ones Maria and Anna at the Marymount bar make. I told Anna it was my last day and she made me promise to come say goodbye at the end of the day. I met up with my teacher at the bar and sneakily got the flowers I bought her up to Res7 without her noticing, booyah. She really liked them and put them in a coffee mug in the room. A few of the other middle school teachers were pooling money to buy her a car seat for the baby so I contributed to that. She doesn’t know about the car seat yet because they are giving to her next week at her surprise baby shower. I wish I could be there since she has absolutely no idea anything is going on! I also got flowers for the middle school ESL teacher since she had helped me out a lot this month and I got kinda close with her too. She was really surprised and got all excited, yay!

The schedule was a little usual because there was an assembly for middle school awards that morning. So we went down to that and watched all the bouncy 6th and 7th graders get their awards. One of my seventh graders got an award for chorus and he was beaming with excitement, so funny. After that we started from first period with shortened times except for last period because the eighth graders had their English exam. So for the eighth graders we had first period we just played Statagories! Let the hilariousness ensue. They got so into it and would get so mad if someone also wrote down their word. A couple of the other eighth graders stopped by to finish writing good luck letters to the students taking the Italian state exams. Its a really high pressure exam because they have to pass to continue on with school. A couple of kids decorated the front with some funny pictures. One of them wrote “Keep Calm and Don’t Fail” like the popular poster. SO caring.

The rest of the day Ms. B was running around the school trying to get everything ready for the eighth grade moving up ceremony going on this Friday. There wasn’t much I could really help her with so I just hung out in the classroom and ran an errand or two.

We had the seventh graders last period, the same ones that I was observed with. I was planning on telling them it was my last day at the end of class, like I did with the other class, but they flat out asked me at the beginning of class. Soo I had to tell them. The other class had gotten all upset when I told them, saying “Why do student teachers always wait to the last minute? They’re just like, bye see you later!”. I told them they’ll survive, crazy children. 

This class was bonkers pretty much the entire period. They must have used up their calm quota on Tuesday for my lesson. Ms. B had them break up into groups to work on a collage of the Persian or Peloponnesian War. For this class she broke them up by having them line up in height order. Might be my favorite way to make groups in a class for middle school. SO HILARIOUS. There was probably a two foot difference between the tallest boy and shortest. Pairs kept coming up with me to ask which was taller and the boys were staring me down as if to say “You better pick me, dang it!”. After that the other groups kept complaining that the tall people were being mean to them and stuff like that. Oiy vey. 

For the collage of their war they had a few information points they had to hit like time period, soldiers/leaders, weapons, ships, geography, etc and represent them in a creative way. So as little wording as possible. I spent the entire class just wandering between the groups trying the keep them on track and asking questions to steer them in the right direction. It could be so frustrating and so much fun at the same time. These kids have so much going on in their heads that its hard for them to just get down to business sometimes. So I would keep badgering one kid to get on task but they just weren’t having it. Then you have to switch tactics and try again. It was exhausting. But I love how creative these kids got. One group cut their piece of paper into the shape of a Greek shield and another one combine the weapons and time line portion by putting the time line on a sword. It just makes me so happy inside : )

Then class was over and they were running out the door, yelling “Bye Miss E., good luck with life!” So sad, my first practicum students just poofed. I didn’t think I would get this attached to them in just four weeks. But these past two weeks I’ve gotten to know these kids a lot better and have been working closely with them. And it was so sad to say good bye to Ms. B. She had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment so it was just a quick goodbye in class. I have her email so hopefully we can stay somewhat in touch. She such an amazing teacher and I definitely learned a lot from her that I’ll take with me. I feel so much more prepared for this fall with my JMU practicum and I CAN’T wait to be in a middle school again. Its kind of addicting, whoops.

Right after having to say goodbye to Ms. B, the ESL teacher, and my kiddos; I went down to the bar to say goodbye to Anna. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and said “Ciao, bella” like she always does. I definitely teared up a bit. It was just too much in such a short amount of time. I don’t even want to think what it will be like to say goodbye to my practicum students at the end of an entire semester. Nope, not going there yet; I’m going to start crying. 

Then we all walked down the drive way for the last time to wait at the bus stop for our LAST BUS RIDE EVER!!! That at least I’m excited about. Italian buses are not something to shed a tear over. I got gelato at Old Bridge with some of the girls as a perfect ending to our last day at Marymount. Full routine complete. 

I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by and how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time. I’ve been to four different cities in less than a month. Seen historical things I’ve only read about. Bought way too many scarves and drank lots of amazing wine. And became addicted to gelato and middle school. 

Overall, pretty amazing adventure. And now I’m coming home!! T-minus 48 hours!


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I love Middle School

So today I have my observed lesson with Steve in one of the seventh grade classes. I was pretty nervous that he would be coming in for this particular section of the seventh graders since they can sometimes be difficult. This is the class that has a lot more ESL students than the other section and is just a little more of a handful. A lot the the kids are really distractible and end up disrupting the class. But it just worked out that I could practice the lesson on the other section and have my observed lesson be a little more polished.

My lesson was on the Persian Wars with some review of Athens and Sparta at the beginning. The plan was to discuss a bell work question (Where would you prefer to live, Athens or Sparta? Why?), review and discuss a chart comparing Athens and Sparta that they did for homework, outline information from the chapter on the Persian Wars, work through a primary source worksheet on the Greek army, and finish off watching a trailer from the movie 300 to talk about how Hollywood changes details. It sounds like a lot but their class periods are around 80 minutes long so there is plenty of time. I wish I could have done more fun activities with them for this lesson but I wasn’t really being hit with any great ideas that would also get all this material across. But they were really excited they got to watch a trailer from 300 and kept saying throughout the class “This is Sparta!” You know, the usual.

For all my fears with this class being too squirrelly and off task to get through everything, they did beautifully! They were a normal level of talkative, asked great questions, and moved through the work at a great pace. To my surprise they were really responsive today in a productive way. A couple of kids who usually don’t like to participate were answering questions and seemed really engaged. We didn’t get to outlining the Persian Wars but the lesson still flowed nicely. This class had heard from the other one that we watched clips from 300 so they pestered me most of the class asking if they could too. When we watched at the end of class it they ended up saying all together with Gerald Butler “This is Sparta!” Gotta love ‘em, the weirdoes. 

Afterwards I debriefed with Steve on how the lesson went. He was really through and it was nice to hear feedback from a JMU education professor since this is similar to what I’m going to go through next fall. He had some great pointers on how to call on a wider of a selection of students and picked up on a phrase I kept using, trying to get responses. Its funny how you don’t even realize you’re saying something so often so it was great to hear that. But he said I had a really great rhythm throughout the lesson, just fast paced enough to keep them engaged and but not rushing. He also mentioned that he thought I was a great fit for middle school saying the way I interacted with the kids was really good. Joking around with them and on their level but still serious.

Its great to hear that kind of affirmation because I feel like I do have a great report with these kids and I am LOVING middle school more than I ever thought I would. This experience has just doubled my excitement for the fall since our placements are in middle school. I feel like this is such a great age to work with because school isn’t as do or die as high school so they’re bouncy and fun but you can still give them some meaty information to work on. Plus you never know what they are going to be like when they walk through the door so you have to be on your toes. Its just too much fun.

So overall a pretty good day at Marymount. I’m glad my observation is over with so I can relax and enjoy these last few days at school. Just two more days. After that I just have the weekend and I’m home! How did a month go by already? I feel like we just arrived and I definitely wish I could spend more time with these crazy kiddos. Even if they are wild animals : )


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Isola d’Elba

This was the weekend trip of ALL the kinds of transportation. I don’t think I have taken so many different kinds of transportation to get to one place in my life. It was a little nuts.

Friday morning we rolled out of San Pietro at the lovely time of 6 am. We were all ecstatic as you can probably guess. After walking up to the San Pietro train station, we took a 2 and half hour train ride to a town close to the port we were departing from. From the train station we took a twenty minute bus ride to the port where would would catch our ferry to Elba. After about an hour at the port, we boarded the ferry and got some seats on the outside so that we could see the island as we approached. The ferry ride was around an hour long and the views were gorgeous. We arrived in Portoferrio and we’re put on to a van, Max’s friend’s car, and two station wagons driven by Steve and Kyle to drive to our hotel. One super twisty, speedy car ride later we were at our hotel! So if you’ve been keeping track thats walking, train, bus, ferry, and a car ride in a total of 6 hours. We were pretty pooped to say the least.

After settling into our rooms and changing, we had lunch at the hotel’s restaurant. We got to choose from a small menu and also picked out what we would be having at dinner that night. The food was pretty good and had traditional Italian course of the first plate of pasta and second plate consisting of some sort of meat. Needless to say, we always left the table stuffed. Then we headed to the beach even though it was a little cloudy. The beach was the whole point of the trip! So we piled into our vans and station wagons to drive to a beach near Portoferrio. Such a beautiful beach, all of them are really, but its so different than what I’m used to. Most of the beaches are in protected coves unlike on the Atlantic where the beach just stretches for miles in a semi-straight line. And the water is SO clear! At one point I swam out to where I couldn’t touch anymore and I could still see the bottom. For a girl raised on east coast beaches, I was pretty excited.

We only spent a few hours on this beach because we had to be back for dinner. Once again, food to the max. After dinner, Max took some of the group up to the village across the cove from the hotel to explore. I was pretty beat from the day and all the traveling so I stayed in and went to bed early. Gotta be rested for sleeping all day on the beach!

After breakfast the next morning, we headed to our next beach. This one was on the southern side of the island. Portoferrio is in the north and our hotel is on the eastern side, just to give you a visual. This beach was GORGEOUS! It had these rocky cliffs on the side you could climb and such amazing views. It was a little cloudy out but just warm enough to be comfortable. Later on in the day the sun came out and we all jumped in the water to take advantage of it. It was a really fun day all in all.

Back at the hotel it was a mad rush for showers because all of our hot water was connected. As you can imagine, not many hotels are equipped to have hot water for 20 showers so it was a little bit of a race to get the hot water. This is what happens when you take 20 college girls on a trip! Before dinner we went down the road to another restaurant for an aperitivo, which is basically an appetizer but you have drinks with it and its a whole to-do. After that we went back to our hotel for another great dinner. More people went out this night but I was pretty drained from the beach. Isn’t that how it always is? You are exhausted from relaxing on the beach, it makes no sense.

The next day was free for us to choose what we wanted to do before we left at 3. Most of us just stayed at the hotel and went down to the pool to relax. It was pretty windy and kind of cloudy but still nice. The sun would burst through every once in a while and like usual my nose got fried. Then we began our trek back to Rome. It was pretty much our trip to Elba, backwards. Car ride, ferry, bus, train, walk. Only this time we were all exhausted from our relaxing weekend. But we got back safe and sound as well as a little pinker than when we left. 

The next morning we had school so we all hurried to jump into bed. Its our last week at Marymount which was a little bittersweet to realize. I’ve really gotten attached to some of these kids, even though I only see each class every other day. They are a fun group.

Whelp thats pretty much our island adventure. Sorry its a little sparse, I can only go on about crystal clear water and mountain roads for so long before you all would hate my blog!


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Miss No Name

So one of my students called me “Lady” today. As is “Hey, lady, I need help.”

Um, excuse me?

Only been there for almost three full weeks now and everyone else in the class knows what to call me. No biggie.

As the Italians would say, Mama Mia!

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Um, what are you doing to each other?

Why do eighth grade boys always try to harm each other? I was watching them in another room while the French monarchy group was setting up and it was like Lord of the Flies.

They were trying to make each other faint and give each other dead limbs. Just casually. They were even volunteering for it. AND I was right there but it didn’t phase them until I would tell them to cut it out. I seriously don’t understand what goes on in their minds.

I now know why my teacher asked me to watch them. Crazy animals.

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This weekend’s trip started off with another early wake up and long train ride but the end goal was Venice! It was a four hour train ride but I read for most of the trip so it wasn’t too terrible. The train station is right in Venice so you travel over the lagoon for a little bit at the end which was pretty neat. You got to see a bunch of the islands and tons of boats.

We walked to the hotel from the train station. It took a little over twenty minutes but it was cool to walk through all the back alleys and over the little canals. Our hotel was just a street away from the Grand Canal and right down the street from the Rialto Bridge, such a great location. The rooms were pretty fun too, ours had two giant glass chandeliers and little couch beds. After getting settled, we decided to go exploring with some of the other girls.

We wandered around a bunch of the shops near the Rialto Bridge and went down some side streets. Venice is really pretty with all the canals and twisting alleys but man is it crowded. SO touristy and sometimes you have to shove your way through a mass of people. I was pretty wiped from the train, exploring Venice, and I had gotten sick somehow so I took a nap when we got back to the hotel. That night we we out for dinner and I had a really good salmon dish. We were also introduced to our new favorite drink, a Venetian speciality, called a Bellini. So good! After dinner I went on a gondola ride with a few of the girls. It was fun to ride down the canals instead of walking over them. 

There wasn’t any planned tours for us on this trip so we were on our own. Everyone was pretty much in agreement that they wanted to go to Murano and Burano, two islands off Venice that are famous for their glass and lace. We took a water bus to Murano first and got to see most of Venice on the ride. On Muarno we found a glass factory pretty quickly that does demonstrations of glass blowing and pulling. We watched him blow a blob of glass into a vase within fifteen minutes. Crazy! Then he made glass figurine horse in under two minutes! He was so matter-a-fact about the whole thing. You could see a horse coming out of this molten sphere of glass. Our minds were blown. He even had one of our girls go up and blow a big glass bubble. After the demonstration, we went crazy in the store. A lot of girls bought gifts because they gave us a discount for watching the demonstration. Genius marketing right there folks. 

After we found some lunch and wandered around a few more shops, we decided to head to Burano. We had to take another water bus that was a bit too crowded for my liking but oh well. Burano was definitely worth the trip. Such a cute, colorful little island! All the houses are painted really bright colors and they have these fabric awnings covering the doorways. It looked like we had stepped into a postcard, so surreal. Other than some shops and great places to take pictures, there wasn’t much else to do so we decided to head back to Venice. Once again I was pooped from the adventuring and whole being an invalid thing so I took another nap. Napping queen, right here ladies and gents. 

Everyone slept in on Sunday since there wasn’t anything planned again and we had to be out of our rooms by 11. After checking out, I went wandering again with a group. A lot of people wanted to pick up last minute gifts or just see a little more of the city. I really wanted to go to St. Mark’s Basilica and get a rosary since I went to St. Marks HS. I had been there before with the WMS Choir but it was just as amazing as before. Such a gorgeous building. Gold mosaic everywhere. After putzing around some more it was time to head back to the hotel and gather our things. Then we walked back to the train station to head home to Rome. Maybe I won’t gain a bazillion pounds with all the walking I’m doing these days. Here’s hoping.

Well that about wraps up this trip. I have Marymount in the morning so its off to bed I go! The eighth graders have presentations tomorrow so that should be fun. They are dressing up as different kings and queens from certain countries monarchies. I love middle school, you can still get them to dress up and be excited about it!


Filed under Venice murano burano st. marks