Chelsea P.: Saying “arrivederci” to my internshipRome Internships, Fall 2011

This past semester in Rome has truly flown by—I’m packing in some last-minute sightseeing among my finals over the next few days, and I head back to America at the end of the week. Last week was my final time interning at the high school where I work, and I was sad to leave! Over the course of the semester I’ve gotten to know my students better. During the frustrating times, I focused on fully being there for them, and I truly enjoyed their company! We reached the point where they were excited for me to come in and teach my lessons, greeting me with stories they’d practiced in English about what had gone on in their week since I’d seen them last, which was encouraging. I’d learned a lot about their lives and culture, so for the last meeting of the class where I’m allowed to come up with my own creative lesson plans, I brought in a variety of pictures about my hometown, university, family, and friends. After that my students wanted to take a bunch of pictures together with me so that I could add them to my collection! It was so sweet, and I’d grown pretty attached to that group, so they were tough to leave. Another great moment was when one of my other classes threw me a surprise goodbye party! Though they normally have a stricter instructional schedule, their teacher had spoken to one of the other teachers I worked with about the pictures I brought in, and requested that I share them with her class too. The students really seemed to enjoy seeing them and asked me lots of questions about my college in America. Afterward we celebrated with cake, and the class signed a giant card for me—it was definitely a fun way to leave my internship experience!

Though it sounds so clichéd, I truly do believe I learned more from my students than they could possibly have learned from me. I received a big dose of Italian culture firsthand, which was personally much more valuable than simply having to read about it in a textbook…I got to live it! My Italian also improved in terms of both listening and speaking during the times I was at Gioberti, since I was constantly exposed to native speakers. It was really interesting to see how Italian youth view America, especially in terms of pop culture—sometimes it was hilarious and sometimes horrifying, but altogether another valuable lesson. Finally, I learned a lot about myself too. Practically, I learned good teaching strategies. I don’t plan on going into teaching as a career in the future, but the on-the-job lessons I learned about synthesizing and presenting information in a dynamic way will serve me well in any path I head down. I grew in terms of adaptability and patience. Most importantly, my confidence grew too as I accomplished my goal of throwing myself out of my comfort zone and thriving! Interning at the high school was a truly unique experience as part of my overall studies abroad, and is one that I’m so happy I chose to take part in. Long after I return to America, I know the lessons I learned, the fun-loving personalities of my students, and the accomplishment I felt will remain with me. Interning abroad is a rich, challenging, and fulfilling experience, and it’s one I encourage future abroad students to pursue if possible!

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