Pesaro Camp…

As week two of my second camp draws to a close, it’s seems like time to share my thoughts on my experiences in Pesaro. Pesaro is a charming little city on the Adriatic Coast. It is located about an hour train ride south of my previous camp in Cesena. This time around, I was not staying as close to the city, so I have not gotten to experience as much of the city as I did in Cesena. However, I have spent a great deal of time on the beautiful beach here, including a sunset paddle boarding excursion. Also, last weekend, all of the tutors took a trip to the nearby city of Cattolica for the annual Pink Party. 

My host family in Pesaro has been exceptional! Ellena, Rudolpho and their son Mario speak nearly perfect English and live in a beautiful home in the country with an incredible view. Upon arriving here, I learned I would be sharing a room with the camp direction because one of the host families backed out. I was initially not happy about this, however, once I met Toby my unhappiness evaporated. We have become great friends over the course of the last two weeks! 

The school in Pesaro is much different than Cesena. Firstly, the garden is not very well maintained which has made some of our a activities quite difficult. It does have a large gym and auditorium, however, and we have utilized these almost daily. This camp is also much larger than my previous with six tutors and a director. In Cesena, we had about 35 students, here we have nearly 75. In my opinion, the student here do not speak English as well as those in Cesena, which has made the camp overall more difficult. 

I am teaching the same age group here, the oldest kids ages 11-14. Despite being the same age as my students at the last camp, their lesser English skills have meant I’ve had to change or throw out some of my previous lessons. Another interesting observation is that the children here can write much better than they speak; in Cesena they could speak much better than they write. I wonder what has lead to this variation in speaking & writing skills. The students here also have a more difficult time staying focused on the lessons and activities. I have had to employ many more classroom management techniques here. 

The theme is this camp is Myths and Legends. My afternoon squad was called “The Legendary Magicians.” We did many of the same activities as my previous camp, but with some modifications based on our much larger group. Water day at this camp was particularly chaotic because of the huge group and the less than perfect garden. The kids really seemed to enjoy the sports days here more than the craft days. 

I found this camp to be particularly exhausting, and although I had a lot of fun, I am very much looking forward to moving on to my next camp in San Giovanni. Two down one to go! My time in Italy is flying by! 

Outside the camp..

My experience in Cesena was more than just English Camp. I had a great time with my host family, and I also made some great new Italian friends. 

View from my host family’s garden

My host family lived about 2.5km outside the city center, so I was able to bike to school and into town with ease. They provided me with an alarm code and a key to the gate, and my room in the basement had its own entrance. It was an excellent set up. Everyday, I had breakfast with the family before biking to school. Breakfast consisted of toast, yogurt, fruit, and lots of excellent Italian coffee. I also had dinner with the family everyday. All of the food they made was excellent, but not as Italian as I was expecting. They barbecued several times, cooked hamburgers, and even chicken nuggets. 

My first weekend with the family, they took on a day trip to Florence. The city was amazing! We walked around admiring the beautiful architecture and also visited the art museum. I was delighted to see the Birth of Venus in person (one of my favorite works of art). As beautiful as the city is, it was also extremely crowded. It really made me appreciate the experience I’m getting staying in small towns away from the droves of tourists. 

That evening, I had dinner with the family, and then my friends picked me up so that we could attend a rock festival in a neighboring town. I had a blast! I sampled some local craft beers, and my friends and I had fun teaching each other slang in our respective languages. 

On Sunday, my friends picked me up early and we drove to the tiny republic of San Marino (which I didn’t even know existed before this trip). We took cable cars up the mountain, and then walked all the way up to the top castle! We had lunch, and then I returned to hang out with the family and have a barbecue. 

At the end of the second week, the San Giovani festival began in Cesena. It was huge! Every street was filled with vendors, food, and music. I went both Thursday and Friday nights. I was able to sample tons of local food and some excellent craft beers. It was a great way to celebrate my time in Cesena with my host family and new friends!  

One camp down…

Looking back on my first English Camp in Cesena, Italy, I can honestly say I think it was a smashing success. I have been so busy with my new camp and completing my online summer course, I have not been able to write as many updates as I would like, but now I’d like to do a quick recap of my first camp. 

At the Cesena camp, there was myself and four other tutors: Gentry, Maddie, and Emma. We also had a camp director named Carmela. Usually, the camp directors act as translators for the tutors when needed, however Carmela spoke almost no English. Emma could speak Italian so she would help translate between Carmela, the rest of the tutors, and the children. Although frustrating at times, her lack of English meant we had a little more freedom to do what we wanted with the camp. 

From legt to right: Emma, Maddie, Ryan, and Gentry
The camp starts each morning with an hour of songs and games. This is followed by English classes until lunch. After lunch is an afternoon activity based on the theme. Our camp’s theme was Countries, so each day’s activity was based on a specific country. The classes are organized by age, and in the afternoon each tutor has a mixed age squad. I had the class with the oldest children ages 10-13. Each of our squads at this camp were named after cities; I had Los Angeles. 

My squad on Mexico Day wearing their Day of the Dead Masks

My English class was fantastic. Most of the children spoke excellent English already, so I was able to devise more complex activities to really fine tune their skills. Each class has a workbook, however we are encouraged to use these only as occasional time fillers and focus more on fun learning activities. Some of the skills I focused on included irregular past tense verbs, the difference between some and any, adverbs, and more advanced adjectives. Some of the activities included irregular verb bingo, writing letters to American students, and Shark tank. The Shark Tank activity was based on the TV show, and the kids absolutely loved creating and presenting their own products. I will be taking the letters they wrote to American students home with me to have students write back to them in the fall! I also taught them about American culture and geography. One of Thor favorite activities was USA Jeopardy! 

My class and I on final show day!

Much of the second week of English class focuses on preparing for the camp final show in which each class must preform a skit for parents and the other classes. My class wrote an preformed a skit called ‘The Shark Attack.’ It was very cute, and as the song for the skit they chose to preform ‘Drag Me Down.’ The kids were huge fans of One Direction and Justin Bieber. During class, I would often play music, and that was all they wanted to hear. 

The winners of our build a boat competition


After the morning English classes, we would all eat lunch together. Each camp does lunch different, at this particular camp, we were provided eight cafeteria food. It was ok. We always started with pasta which was very salty, but not too bad. The main course was usually a meat and a vegetable. Some days it was edible, so days not so much. It seems no matter where you go in the world, cafeteria food is the same. 

Shark Tank presentation

In the afternoon, we would get with our squads for afternoon activities. Some of the highlights included casino day, water day, and Chinese craft day. We also has several sports days when we would play soccer, kickball, or a modified version of cricket. Water day was my favorite. We played messy games with melted chocolate and Nutella as well as water balloon fights and water relays. 

The kids at this camp were very bright, and I think we were able to help them improve their English over the course of the two weeks. I think that the English class is useful, but even more is learned simply through conversations the students have with us throughout the day. They were very inquisitive and interested in learning about us and our home countries. I look forward to my next camp in Pesero. My online class is now complete, so I will have more time to update this blog! 

Orientation week…

I have been so busy the last two weeks it has been difficult to write an update!
Orientation week in Assisi began on Sunday, June 5th. It was intense and totally not what I expected. There are around 50 other tutors here from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Getting to know people from all over the world was the best parts of orientation.

Each day we begin outside with all the tutors standing in a circle. We spend about 45 minutes singing camp songs and playing games. Singing the songs is not really my thing, but I know the kids will enjoy them. The games, however, are a blast, and I’ve had fun learning new ones! After the games, we spent time inside the conference room in the hotel learning about different ways to teach the kids. Mostly we are encouraged to use games and fun activities. It is difficult for them to tell us exactly what to do because the students at each camp will have varying levels of English. 

The hotel is Assisi was very nice. I shared a room with an American who has been teaching in Austria for the last few months and another guy from Ireland. They along with most of the tutors are quite a bit younger than me. The orientation week was very structured and hectic. While I did learn a lot and meet some great people, overall I did not enjoy the week that much. There was a little time for fun- one evening I walked into Assisi which is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. We also went as a group to a wine tasting one evening which was excellent. Our meals alternated between the hotel and two restaurants in Santa Maria. The hotel food was mediocre, but the restaurants were excellent. The pizza here is fantastic, it has thin crust and is very light and flavorful. I also tried prosciutto and melon for the first time, and I think it is one of my new favorite snacks! 

Friday evening of orientation week, I received my first placement and found out who I would be teaching with. My first camp is in Cesena which is a small town of about 100,000 just slightly north of San Marino. I am with two Americans tutors (Gentry and Maddie) and one tutor from England (Emma). We left together by train for Cesena on Saturday morning at 615am. It was awful getting up so early on Saturday after a long week! 

Upon arriving in Cesena, we were met at the train station by Carmela who is the camp director. She escorted us directly from the train station to the school were we began immediately planning the camp. We decided on a camp theme of “Around the World” with each day representing a different country. Each of our squads would be named after a different city. We worked well together and had the outline of the camp completed very quickly. Carmela’s English is not very good, but Emma speaks Italian, so she has been doing a great deal of translating for us. 

UH 1230, our host families arrived to meet us. My family lives very close to Cesena. Daniele and Sylvia have one daughter, Georgia, who is 10 years old and will attend the English camp. They have a beautiful home with a beautiful garden (no one says yard here- it’s a garden). I have a nice suite in the basement with my own entrance and bathroom. Daniele speaks nearly perfect English, but Sylvia and Georgia do not. They have been incredibly welcoming and hospitable, and the food they cook is fantastic! 

On Saturday night, the family was planning to jog in a 10k race in Cesena. I agreed to join them, not knowing that a portion of the race was up a mountain! It was exhausting, but the views were beautiful and it was a great way to see the whole town. On Sunday, they took me to see the oldest public library in Europe. After that, I needed to rest and plan my lesson for the week! 

I will write another update this weekend about the first week of camp! 

One day in Rome…

My flight to Rome ended up being much less painful than I anticipated. The flight was totally packed full- except my row. I had four seats to myself and was able to spread out and get some well needed rest. I arrived in Rome at 10am on Friday and quickly found a bus to take me into the city. After about a 20 min drive, I arrived at the main train station where I purchased a 24 hour metro pass for only 7€! Two stops later and I arrived at the Hotel Piccadilly. The room was compact, but quite nice. I quickly took a shower and ran out the door to see the sights.

My first stop was Vatican City. I really hoped to go inside the Sistine Chapel, but the line was about four hours long. I decided I didn’t want wait that long, so I walked around a little bit more, and then I got back on the subway to go see the Coliseum. It was breathtaking! The line here was also several hours long, so I did not go inside. I know for next time to buy ticket for everything in advance. Right across from it was the Roman Forum with many other interesting ruins. After exploring that area for a little while, I went back to the hotel for a little nap. 

After my nap, I went to a bar where I met some new friends from the UK and Denver. I had a great time exploring Rome’s nightlife with them! We ended up at a street festival right near the Coliseum. There was a stage with music and performers. It was totally awesome, but I thought it was strange that none of the Italians were dancing. I had a great night, but I was completely exhausted when I returned back to my hotel. 

I would say my day in Rome was a smashing success. I loved how easy it was to get around on the metro. However, the city is quite dirty; there is garbage and graffiti everywhere. It was very disheartening to see ancient building covered in graffiti. I hope I’m able to return for a weekend trip sometime this summer to explore more. Rome has so many sites one day was certainly not enough to see all of them. 

I’ve been very busy with my tutor orientation the last few days. My next update will cover my time in Assisi and what I’ve been learning in preparation to work with Italian students! 

On my way…

My morning started early- 4am to be exact. I was already awake when my alarm went off. My mind was racing all night- a mixture of anxiety and excitement. The longest I’ve ever been away from home is two weeks, and it’s really hit me now that I’m going to be away for two months. I’m not going to see anyone or anything I know for two months (well almost- some friends are coming to meet me at the end of July). I’m really sad to be leaving all of my friends and family for the summer, but I’m hoping this is really going to be a life altering experience. I’ve heard people say that real growth and learning happens when you step out of your comfort zone, and I am stepping pretty far outside what I would consider comfortable. 

When booking my travel, I discovered it was nearly $1000 less expensive to fly out of Toronto instead of Detroit. So, my travels began this morning with a train ride from Windsor to Toronto (big thanks William for waking up at 4am to drop me off). This was actually my first time riding a train, and I was very impressed. The seats were large and comfy, there was free wifi, and each seat even had its own outlet. I wish airplanes were even half as comfortable. 

I arrived in Toronto around 10am and had to hop on another quick train to the airport. My large backpack was weighing me down, and I was elated when I was finally able to check it! Now I am sitting at a bar eating lunch. My flight departs at 3pm to Philadelphia where I’ll quickly connect to my flight to Italy. It’s going to be a long night of travel, but my next update will be from Rome! 

One month till departure…

Travel Pictures Ltd
View Over Assisi, Italy
One month from today, I will be arriving in Assisi, Italy to begin my orientation as a tutor for The English Camp Company. I am beyond elated about this amazing opportunity. I applied months ago, and when I the position was offered to me a week ago, it caught me off guard. My summer plans for employment and leisure were all in place, but I was more than willing to rearrange them for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Not only do I get to travel in Europe, but I’m also going to gain experience working with students and learning strategies and methods I can take and adapt for my own future classroom. 

FullSizeRenderI am very much looking forward to this summer and the immense amount of knowledge I’ll gain, not only about teaching, but also about Italian and Austrian culture. Each week, we will travel to a different city in either country, and instead of staying in hotels, each tutor will be placed with a host family. I cannot think of a better way to learn about a culture! Another exciting element is that the host families provide meals! I am very excited about eating some amazingly delicious, homemade, authentic Italian cuisine! By the end of the summer, I also hope to be speaking a little bit of Italian.


Working with students will also be a highlight of the trip. I am very curious to learn more about the specific strategies used to teach the kids. It is a camp environment, so games and songs will be a big part of the learning. It will be interesting to witness the types of errors students make while learning English as a second language and compare those to errors made by native English speaking students. I will also try to find out about the attitudes students have about school and education. This is something I will also discuss with my host families to attempt to gain an understanding of how Italians and Austrians view education and its importance in society. I discussed this topic with many people on my trip to Tanzania last year, and it is fascinating to observe the similarities and differences between views on education across cultures.

Please follow my journey through this blog! I will try to make another update as the trip get closer, and once I am in Europe, you can expect regular updates and pictures!