When in Rome
These moments, as well as other experiences I’ve had, have helped me learn powerful lessons:
When I return to Italy, I know there awaits many more lessons to learn. I will learn these lessons through successes, failures, tears, excitement, awe, and unexpected ways.
But as time goes on, I am reminded that this is not a vacation. Moving to Rome has been quite an adjustment process... I said goodbye to my Dad after the first week of being here, and then to my Mom as her month with me came to a close. It definitely feels odd that I am no longer 5 miles away from them.
In starting a new school year I am searching to find my role in this new community… I'm adjusting to a new age level of students (middle and high school) that brings new challenges and forces me to step out of my comfort zone... I'm also adjusting to the new subjects I am teaching, choir and drama, and desperately trying to stay just one step ahead of the game.
And when I’m not focused on school, I am trying to acclamate to the cultures and norms of a new country… figuring out (what feels like) odd hours that stores are open, because restaurants don’t serve dinner until 8pm, hardware stores are not open on the weekend and some shops don’t abide by the hours they post on their window, making it difficult to schedule errand runs… being aggressive at the deli counter to place your order, because if you wait in “line” you’ll never get to the front… living in a country where English is not the primary language, and that no matter how much Italian you learn, you can never seem to learn the right words you need to use that day :)
And then there are challenges that a small town girl faces when moving to the big city… Waiting and waiting, and then waiting some more for a bus that was scheduled to arrive 20 minutes ago…. Constant blisters on my feet from walking EVERYWHERE (I did not bring the right shoes for this). This list goes on and on.
It is exhausting. There are often days where I go home and go straight to bed, but lie there restless and awake because I can’t stop thinking about all the things that didn’t go right that day and what I could have done better.
This is why I’m doing this, I keep telling myself. I chose to move here to be challenged, to learn, and to grow as a person. The hard days must be days where I am learning and growing a lot, right?! :)
The next morning, we hit the ground running with a day at the school. We got a tour, as well as became familiar with the school's mission statement, framework, and profile of an AOSR graduate. I got a chance to see my music room, as well as the performance space for my concerts. With the weather being very temperate, concerts are held outside!
Tomorrow the new faculty is getting together for a tour of downtown Rome, sponsored by the PTO. I am excited to see the historical sights of Rome, as well as learn with my new colleagues (and parents) how to use the metro :)
Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life. The day I move to Rome, Italy.
As I've prepared for my move, I can't help but look back at moments in my life that have led me to this opportunity. To name a few:
In college I traveled to China as part of a cultural music exchange program. For three weeks, we rehearsed and collaborated with Chinese students from universities, affiliated high schools, and conservatories, performing works that represent music from both American and Chinese culture. We also discussed music education philosophies and how it is approached in different parts of the world. While I gained insightful knowledge from a music standpoint, I also faced moments that taught me valuable lessons... 1) lugging my incredibly large, heavy suitcases (yes, plural!) taught me that it's best to travel light, and that it's ok to let things go. 2) My little (pretty much none) knowledge of the Mandarin language made it difficult to communicate, showing me how important it is to learn and embrace the language of the culture you are a part of. That and sometimes singing, visuals, and other nonverbal communication can be just as effective! And 3) Singing and making impressions can be a fun way to pass the time on long train rides :) This trip to China is what first sparked my interest in teaching abroad.
After college, I was hired into the greatest position I could have asked for. Teaching at Pleasant Ridge Elementary was a blessing for many reasons. I worked with incredible colleagues who were mentors, friends, and taught me more than what I can fit in a blog post. My students and their families were some of the most loving, enthusiastic, and entertaining people I have ever met. I'm also pretty sure my students taught me just as much as I taught them. The teacher I am today was without a doubt the result of working with amazing people in Saline. It's been very difficult saying goodbye to people so special to me. Included in this blog is a song I sang to the PR staff on the last day of school (my cheesy way of telling them how much I appreciate them!).
While it wasn't until college that I became interested in teaching abroad, I believe God had a plan for me long before, I just didn't realize it. Growing up, my family took several trips to Beaver Creek, CO. Every year, my parents would enroll me in ski school, and I would sob and plead to let me stay with them instead of going off by myself. I was scared to be by myself, especially when so far away from home. My current situation reminds me very much of my Colorado ventures. Even today, my stomach drops at the thought of being so far away from home, which is ironic because I willingly got myself into it this time!
What little ski-school Emily didn't know at the time though, was that she was preparing her future self to have the courage to take on a much grander adventure. Many experiences in my life have prepared me, but what stands out most to me are the friendships and family in my life (who are most likely the ones reading this post!). I feel confident that my support network, as well as the life lessons I've learned over the years have prepared me for what lies ahead. See you soon USA and buongiorno, Italia!
P.S. My future blog posts will most likely not be this long, but I will be sure to keep updating this blog as I embark on this new adventure :)