First days of school in Italy

The kids’ first day of school was September 12th, Wednesday. Silvia had just one introductory hour, from 11am to twelve, while Alessio started at 8am and had a regular five hour schedule (until 1pm).

He was extremely calm, certainly due to his nature (lucky him), but probably also due to the fact that he visited the school and met four teachers one week earlier. This is something I strongly recommend: getting the teachers (maestre) to know the child, his situation, background, strengths and weaknesses before the school starts is a win-win situation on both sides. And providing a copy of the kid’s last school report is a good idea as well. When I went to pick him up he was just fine, and has been since.

For Silvia things went a little differently. I tried to reach her professors (professori) beforehand with no avail up until 10 minutes before school started, when I met her Italian teacher, professoressa Zocchelli, to whom I explained Silvia’s situation: the fact that she finished 6th grade with an average of an A, that she is a very responsible student, that during the summer I taught her some Italian geography, history and grammar (obviously I didn’t mention that sometimes I literally had to drag her to our living room to study together…), and so on. Professoressa Zocchelli was super nice with her and when the bell rang she took her to class. However one hour wasn’t enough for her to get to know the kids and be known by them, with the result that she wasn’t very happy when I went to pick her up….

Now things are better, she is getting used to the Italian school system and her classmates little by little. She does complain, and does it often, but always seems serene when she comes home from school. As for me, I’m working on meeting the professors one by one, which is a very slow task since email is still not used here and communications happen through the diario (exactly like when I was a child).

Nevertheless it’s a small thing to bear, since I still think that Italian schools are among the best.

Coming from abroad, have you ever had any experience with the Italian school system?


The impact with the Italian roads

On September 2nd we landed in Venice as usual, and, as usual, the car trip from the airport to my hometown, Trieste, was for me more nerve wracking than the one in the airplane crossing the Ocean. Even though I’m Italian, and I should be used to the Italian way of driving, I’m just freaking out when cars approach you from behind and drive at only a few feet from your rear bumper.

Luckily this time things went differently. My father, who came to pick us up at the airport, was suffering some discomfort to his leg and asked me to drive. And I did drive… very slowly. So slowly that he was starting getting upset and asked me if we would have made it to Trieste by dawn (it was 9pm, in case you were wondering…).

However, one thing that really made me think is how much harder it is for me to park my car in Italy. In the States, the biggest effort I have to make is to lift my finger to press the garage remote control installed in my vehicle. But here, well, see it yourself:

Obviously, this is not a car with automatic transmission, it has the clutch, which is probably half its size after this parking attempt…

Going, going, going… gone: spending one school year in Italy

Yes, we have done it again; we are back in Italy for another extended period of time.

In 2009, after spending 4 months in Trieste, I promised myself that if life granted us the possibility to do it, we would have repeated that beautiful experience one more time. The priceless memories created during those Fall months have molded my kids’ lives in such a positive way, that planning for the next Italian adventure had become just a natural process.

So, here we are again: my kids are almost ready to start an Italian public school. Alessio will attend 4th grade in a scuola elementare, while Silvia will be in 7th grade in a scuola media. Are they happy? Let’s say that they are half way there, mixed emotions are what they are feeling right now. And it’s the same for me.

Even though at first this sounds like a fairy tale, it actually comes with some sacrifices: Paolo hasn’t been able to join us, the kids and I will see him once every 2 months or so, I had to put my business on hold (with the risk of losing part of it in the process), along with the college classes I was attending (and loving).

However, as they say in Italy “Chi non risica, non rosica”, which stands for “No risk, no gain”. I believe so, don’t you?