I am back!

I am back! Hello!

I apologize for the absence for the past few months, I have been M.I.A! I’ll explain why!

School has been really busy over the past few weeks, preparing a lot of lessons, marking a lot of tests – the usual school stuff and researching a bunch of stuff for my dissertation! However, what has been keeping me really busy is that I kind of have a second English teaching job!

At the start of February, I joined a language school here in Bari to help improve my Italian even more and so I have been taking a class which is preparing me to do my C1 exam in June! So for 8 hours a week, I go to these classes and we do a lot of speaking and grammar work! So there are 4 people in my class all together. There is me (hello), a Chinese woman who has lived in Bari for 8 years, a Russian woman who has lived in Italy for over 10 years and a Romanian woman who has lived in Italy for 6 years. When we first started the classes, I was so intimidated because they were able to just talking without thinking, no hesitation at all and they didn’t really have any vocabulary problems! One thing I did notice however is that they didn’t really know Italian grammar which is one thing that I do know! It has been such a lovely experience doing these classes because they help me with vocabulary and I help them with grammar. The classes are taught completely in Italian and I can say I have noticed a huge improvement in my Italian and also I feel a lot more confident in my Italian! I now finally understand that it is ok to make mistakes when speaking because you will always learn from them! I wish I had listened to my teachers at school and even at uni! They always said do not be scared to speak, do not be scared to make mistakes, just try! I 100% stand by this advice – please always try! It can’t hurt!

 

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Celebrating a few birthdays!

Since taking this class, I have had the opportunity to teach English at the school in the evenings which has been such a great experience! Before I came to Italy, I was told that native English speakers are really sought-after and that English is not taught so well in schools. I can’t count the amount of times I have been asked to do lessons with people because English is my language! However, it was a bit of a shock for me to teach English at the school mainly because I was going to be teaching adults. I am so used to having students that I can have a real conversation with, explaining grammar rules in English and doing fun culture things with them. The adults I teach had no previous knowledge of English, so I had to start way at the beginning which was challenge for me. Furthermore, I teach the class solely in English but there have been times where I have to teach them grammar rules or give them the equivalent word in Italian. I find this more challenging that teaching my usual students. So far so good though! I am really enjoying teaching and this is giving me the opportunity to teach various levels!

 

Since I have been so busy, I haven’t had the chance to travel much! However, I want to tell you about my trip that I took with my class! As Latin is one of the classes that I teach in, it was only right to have a trip to Pompei!

We set off at 6.30am because it takes around 3 hours to get there from Bari! I was really excited because I have learned a lot about Pompei during the lessons and the students were really happy that they got a day away from school!

Pompei was incredible (even in the 26 degree heat)! Once you enter the ruins, you could see the infamous Vesuvius which was amazing to see in person! The one thing I didn’t realise was how huge the area of the ruins is! We walked for three hours with a tour guide and only managed to see under half of it! In class, we have been following the story of Caecilius and the slaves so the students were really enthusiastic because we were able to walk through the streets where the markets would have been, where the campaigns would have been held (we even got to see some original “graffiti” used to encourage the people to vote for someone). We even saw the house where Caecilius lived.

The best part for me was the amphitheatre which was open to us. After we climbed to the top of the stairs, we were able to see a beautiful view of Pompei and the mountains that surround it. It is hard to believe that the ruins, for the most part, are in great condition. It really gives you a great insight into how life was back then.

The sculptures within Pompei were really interesting as well. I’m not one for Art/Sculptures etc but Italy is really starting to change my mind. There were beautiful sculptures in Pompei; I have never seen anything like it before.

We ended up leaving just before 5pm. At the end of the day, 43 students and 3 teachers were extremely tired!

 

 

A few weeks ago, my mum and brother came out to visit me! I was really not expecting them to because both of them are terrified of flying, my mum hadn’t been on a plane since 1999. It was so lovely to have a little piece of home in Bari! Neither of them had ever been to Italy before so it was so much fun to show them around and let them try all the great food too!

 

I’ll add some more photos of pompei and some other travels!

Next week I will update my blog with my trip to Rome and the South of France!

Just now, I need to go! I am heading to Florence for the weekend!

Buona giornata a tutti!

Riona

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C’era una volta…

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and magical New Year!

First of all, I am writing this blog from the comfort of my bed because I now have wifi in my flat!! (Also, it is snowing pretty heavily right now and I do not want to go outside…)

I have been back since the 5th of January and I thought I would show you some things that have been going on here!

The 6th of January was a weird day for me! In Italy, the 6th is called Befana. I had no clue what this was so, me and a few friend decided to go into town for a wander and discovered what Befana is.

Yes, that is indeed Befana abseiling down the side of a church…

Basically, Befana is an old woman (kind of resembles a witch but is not a witch, even though she kind of magical powers…) who delivers gifts to children during the night and when they wake up, if they have been good – their stocking will be filled with lots of sweeties. However, if they have been bad, there will be lumps of coal in their stockings instead! While we were watching Befana and fellow chimney sweeps abseil down the side of the church, children were screaming for Befana and then all of a sudden, she began throwing sweets to the children! For me, it was kind of strange because we don’t really have anything like this! Super strange but it was pretty interesting! (I did get a free cookie out of it so, I cannot complain!).

I have been super busy since I have been back, trying to organize lessons, attending parents evenings and travelling!

Me and a few friends decided to go to a little town around an hour away from Bari called Trani. I wasn’t expecting to see much but it was such a little magical town! Situated right next to the sea, there was a lovely park which was in the middle of the cathedrals. For it being such a small town, it was full of character! I definitely will be going back! The sea views were amazing and I couldn’t complain – 21 degrees in January went down a treat!

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Trani
gli occhiali da sole nel gennaio, è una novità!

One of the best things here in Bari, for me, are definitely the people! The school I work in has so many lovely people who have made me feel so welcome! However, that went up another level last week. It was finally my 21st birthday last week (I am the baby of all my friend groups)! I wasn’t too excited about it because to begin with, I wasn’t spending it with all my friends at home etc but I also didn’t think anyone really knew it was going to be my birthday, let alone my 21st. However, the day totally exceeded my expectations!

So, I walked into school and went to the staff room where I was greeted my the headmistress with a hug and a little banner which said “Tanti Auguri!”. That was super sweet! So then all the teachers joined in with the little celebrations which was lovely. So it was then time for me to go to class. Here’s me walking along the corridor and I hear someone shout “she’s here!!”. I turned the corner and one of my classes was there clapping and singing happy birthday! I was so surprised – it was so cute! Then they all ran up and we had a group hug! I went into their class and they had organised a little surprise party for me which included two homemade birthday cakes (I am definitely a little fatter now), a few presents and of course, they had 21 candles ready in the cake! Here is the embarrassing part – they had already sang me happy birthday in English, so then they sang it in Italian, I actually started crying, like real tears – in front of them! I was so surprised and so not prepared for it! So now my students have seen me cry! They were super sweet and all gave me a little hug and watched me open my gifts! One of the gifts was this…

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This is barese dialect which means “you leave, then you come back.”. Rough translation because they told me, it doesn’t really have the same affect in English as it does in barese!

So after that emotional hour, I had to go into another class who greeted me with the same enthusiasm and lots of balloons! Since we were doing Latin, it was only appropriate…

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On top of all of this, the teachers who I work with everyday told me to be ready for 8pm and someone would come get me and then there would be another little surprise! So 8pm came and (in Italian style, we eventually left at 8.45pm)we drove for a while until we arrived at one of my teachers home! She had arranged a surprise party with all the teachers and friends! They even gave me a little present too! So, obviously, this being unexpected – I cried, AGAIN. Very emotional day to say the least! I got to try a lot of Pugliese dishes and again, I am fatter now, the Italian truly love their food!  I am very lucky to work and teach with such lovely and caring people!

Over the next few weeks, I am planing on travelling a little more and obviously, eat more pizza (which I am 100% ok with).

I’ll pop some more photos at the bottom here! If you have something that you want to know about Italy or anything, fammi sapere!

Ciao!

Riona

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il porto di Trani

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alcuni dei miei colleghi meravigliosi ed io!
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esprimi un desiderio!
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la pizza margherita!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

last blog of 2016…

Buongiorno a tutti! I hope all is well!

This will be my last blog entry for the year! I have just finished classes for the day and I need to go home to pack because tomorrow, I am coming home for Christmas! I am very excited!!

But first of all, I want to tell you about my trip to France! So I study Italian at university but I also study French! I had booked this trip about a month ago to go see my best friend who is currently an Erasmus student! Now, Kim and I were flatmates last year, pretty much had the exact same French classes, we pretty much saw each other 24/7! So I was really excited to visit her and explore a part of France that I had never been to! Not going to lie, after 4 months of not seeing each other, we did have an emotional reunion at the airport, many tears…

Allora, Tours is located in the Centre region of France and it is said that there, they speak the purest French! Tours was actually one of my choices for France when applying for ELA positions! It is everything I imagined a French city would be. Obviously, I have been to Paris before and for me, it is beautiful but there are a lot of tourists. Tours was a taste of real French culture for me! I may regret saying this (after I start 5th year) but I really miss French! It was so nice to hear the accent and practice! Anyways, Tours was definitely in the Christmas spirit!

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There were three Christmas markets with mulled wine and lots of Christmas knick-knacks! Before I arrived in Tours, I didn’t really feel christmassy because in Bari, there weren’t many decorations and it was still 15 degrees!

Kim took me a tour of Tours and also Amboise! Amboise is a little town outside Tours which is where Leonardo di Vinci is buried and you can also visit the house in which he used to live in! Amboise also lies on the Loire river which is absolutely gorgeous! If you have the chance, I would definitely recommend here!  As I said, Tours was very christmassy! When Kim showed me around, there were a lot of things to see! C’era una ruota panoramica, una pista di ghiaccio all’aperta e c’erano perfino le renne con Babbo Natale! C’era bellissima!

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So I arrived back in Bari and it was back to the norm. However, my students have cottened on to the fact that I understand Italian. Before starting teaching, I was told not to tell the children I could understand Italian otherwise they wouldn’t speak any English. Obviously, they are smart kids and know that I study Italian at uni. What gives it away, in class, when the teacher speaks in Italian, when I understand something, I tend to nod my head or even laugh when they are telling jokes! So, my students asked me to speak to them in Italian. I said no but stupidly told them that before Christmas, I would. I forget that sometimes teenagers remember things and today, they said, it is your last day so therefore, you need to speak Italian! It was, hands down, one of the scariest experiences of my life! Having 30 sets of eyes on you while you try and not murder their language! So, I ask – what do you want me to say? They reply “Say anything.”

“io sono Riona, io sono una principessa…” (They said say anything…) Then it was just a few short sentences about Christmas! After this, I got a standing ovation and a round of applause! They were so sweet then they had got me a little present of some Panettone! Being a teacher has its perks!

 

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#rionaparlaitaliano

 

 

So I will finish my post here! I will continue posting after New Year! I”ll add some photos below!

Io spero che voi abbiate un buon natale e ci vediamo in 2016!!

Riona 🙂

 

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Moules Frites – una classica in Francia
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In cima alla ruota panoramica 🙂
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una bellisima vista su Amboise
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che strano! una pista di ghiaccio e le palme nella stessa imagine!
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Cheesecake e una ciocolata calda – la dolce vita…

 

I like coffee now…

Bari seafront
Bari’s lungomare

 

Ciao ragazzi!

I would like to apologize for the lack of blogs recently! I am currently living in, what seems like, the Victorian age… I have no wifi in my flat anymore. So therefore, it has been pretty difficult for me to get online anywhere but I have managed today!

So since my last update, a lot has happened. I have hosted a few visitors which was a chance to show off my new and improved skills in Italian, I have eaten a lot of pizza and also, it’s happened… I now like coffee!

cappucinos by the beach
i cappuccino sulla spiaggia

 

So teaching has been going really well! It still amazes me that the students are so enthusiastic! We have been doing a lot of grammar lessons together but I recently started introducing some Scottish culture to them. Now before I explain this, there is something you should know. The Italians can’t quite grasp the fact that Scotland is not England, the fact that I am not English – yet I speak English and the fact the UK is not called England. I have found myself being quite defensive over this, the patriotism is shining through. The amount of times I have had to explain that Scotland is not part of England and that, in fact, it is a separate country is unbelievable! Now I know why the first thing my Italian teacher taught me was “non sono inglese, sono scozzese ma io parlo inglese!” – It is all making sense now!

Anyways, I did a culture lesson for the students about Scotland which they found really interesting! I showed them where I am from and Glasgow, explaining the differences between a small town, such as Dumfries, and Glasgow – they found the Duke of Wellington statue hilarious! One thing they still have problems with is understanding my accent. Now, I do not really have a thick Scottish accent but there are some things which they struggle with! However, I showed them how good they have it… I showed them a video of Glasgow then one of Kevin Bridges. I explained he was a true Glaswegian and that his accent was probably the most Scottish you could get. After the video, I think they were slightly more grateful of my accent because they said they could barely understand him! I also taught them some Scottish words and they use them every day! Every time I ask something with a yes or no answer, at least 3 students will answer with Aye!

Out with teaching, I have had the opportunity to travel within my region a lot but also out with! If you ever come to Puglia, I have to say, the most beautiful place I have seen is Polignano a Mare! It is a 20 minute train journey from Bari and it is simply gorgeous! When you Google Puglia, Polignano is one of the first images that appear. It has a small rocky beach which is extremely popular but also, an amazing view! The novelty of living next the sea is not wearing off! I took my visitors there and managed to get a lot of photos! When I was there, I managed to try one of the local pugliese dishes of cozze, patate e riso which was amazing!! All the typical pugliese dishes I have tried so far have been so good; I’m going to come home at Christmas a lot heavier!

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Most weekends, I manage to travel within the region but a few weekends ago, me and a few friends headed to Matera which is in the neighbouring region to Puglia, Basilicata! First of all, my legs hurt so much the next day and here is why. Matera (la Città Sotterranea) is home to another UNESCO world heritage site named Sassi which is the historical centre but it also full of loads of hills, steps, and mini mountainous areas (hence the sore legs). It is actually quite famous as many film makers have used Matera within their films. It has even been named the European Capital of Culture of 2019! The views there were absolutely incredible! We were there until night time though and after 6pm, it became a ghost town which was pretty eerie!

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una vista panoramica di Matera al tramonto!

 

I also had a long weekend at the start of November which I used to go to Cagliari to visit a friend! Now, I don’t mean to brag or anything but it was the 1st of November and we were on the beach having ice cream then having a little dip in the sea, I even burnt my nose! Can’t complain though, my tan is holding up well! Cagliari was beautiful; I cannot wait to go back! The views, the food and seeing a familiar face was great!! It was in Cagliari where I started having coffee! We got one free with our meals and it wasn’t too strong for me and so, now I am a coffee lover!

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la mia amica, Ailsa, al porto.

 

Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy the photos! I am just getting ready to travel again; I’m heading to Tours in France for a few days to visit a friend!

Is there anything in particular you would like to know about Italian life or food or anything! Fammi sapere!

Ciao!

 

Riona 🙂

 

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Ci sono montagne vicino alla spiagga a Cagliari
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Una statua di Domenico Modugno che cantava “Volare”
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al bordo della costa italiana

 

cozze
cozze, patate e riso
good
un regolo dagli miei ospiti!

 

I have been here a month…

Hi everyone! Welcome back!

A lot has happened since I last updated you on my new Italian life.

For example, I got myself a flat, managed to work out public transport, starting teaching, discovered IMG_2414even more food and I have been a proper tourist!

So I began teaching. I actually started a little earlier than what I was meant to which means now I have been teaching for around 3 weeks. It is incredibly weird to be seen as a teacher, to have students who hang off of your every word. I am teaching in 1st year classes as part of a Cambridge program. This program is a special kind of qualification the students will get and all the classes are taught in English. Could you imagine being 14 years old and all your classes being taught in Italian? No, me either! All I can say is, the students are highly motivated to learn English and are extremely curious! They have so many questions about the language and about the culture. The main challenge for me are the questions about the language. I mean, you think you know your own language until you are asked why a certain tense is used instead of another one or how to explain random vocab. Having to explain in English certain words is odd because you never really think of the meaning. The students don’t know that I can speak Italian either so for me, I’ll know the translation of the word but I can’t tell them that, I have to come up with an easy explanation for words, which is harder than it seems! I think I know Italian grammar a lot better than English, I have a lot of learning to do!

I’m also learning a new language, Latin! I teach in a Latin class as well. The students have never studied it and either have I! So far, it’s pretty interesting learning Latin, also pretty difficult. However, I got a round of applause the other day when I read a little paragraph out in perfect Latin, have to say – I was pretty proud of myself!

The school system is totally different to Scotland. The kids start school at 8.15am and finish at 1.15pm – with no breaks! The students don’t have a uniform, they can wear whatever they want and the same goes for the teachers! They come to school wearing jeans and converse – it’s a very relaxed style. Another weird thing for me is that the students stay in the same classroom all day and it is the teachers who move around from class to class! I have to say it is taking some time to get used to!

The weather here the past week hasn’t been too great! There has been a few storms, thunder and lightening and lots of rain –  Scotland has clearly followed me here! Apart from that, I have had the opportunity to go exploring at the weekends! Bari is the biggest city in Puglia but there is so many little towns and cities outside it filled with absolute gems! I went to Ostuni (also known as Città Bianca) for the day with a few girls that I met through Erasmus, which looks like this…

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Then the following day we went to a UNESCO World Heritage Site aka Alberobello where the trulli are. This place was breathtaking! The trulli were really cool and are totally unique to Alberobello! People don’t really live in them anymore, a lot of them have been turned into little shops or restaurants but there was a wee old woman who invited us into her trullo and showed us how she lived. There was a kitchen/dining room and a little bedroom, that was it. She told us she spends her day making pasta and showing tourists her place!

Another thing I discovered this week was the Barese dialect. Before coming to Italy I had been warned the the accent of the South would be too difficult to understand and that the spoke in the passato remoto a lot (thankfully they do not). So far, I can handle the accent, it is perfectly understandable (most of the time) but this Barese dialect is something else. It literally sounds like a mixture of a little Italian, a hint of french and the rest is jibberish. So there I was in the supermarket, minding my own business, buying too much mozzarella and I get a wee tap on the shoulder from an old lady. As I turn around she starts talking to me in this Barese dialect and I stood there, not understanding a single word. I died a little inside. I was thinking that my Italian was improving, when people speak to me, I get the gist of what they are saying but this wee old woman, I could not understand a single word. Not a thing. She repeated the sentence 4 times before she said “non sei una barese?” to which I promptly with “no no, sono scozzese!”. Thankfully after that, we had a lovely conversation (Italian people will tell you their life story even if they don’t know you, she had 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren and a cat named Giuseppe).I found a little youtube with an Italian comedian who gives a few examples of the barese dialect, you can see how far some words differ from real Italian!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnS01_TbShw

Anyways, I need to go and correct some homework now (very teacher like!), I will pop some more photos at the bottom here of different things. The next two weeks are going to be quite busy for me as I have some people coming to visit me! I will keep you updated!

Ciao,

Riona 🙂

classic vespa
classic vespa

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This was inside one of the trulli, can you understand this wee quote?
This was inside one of the trulli, can you understand this wee quote?

the Italians know I’m not Italian…

Well, I am finally here, down in the south of Italy in a city named Bari.

I’ll give you a little insight into what has been happening…

When I left Glasgow at 3am on the 16th of September, it was 5 degrees. When I arrived in Bari, it was 37 degrees. A whole 32 degrees higher than Scotland. This was the first moment, the Italians realized they had a Scottish girl on their hands. I was dressed in my hoodie and leggings, not prepared for the heat whatsoever! But I was not complaining at all 🙂

In my first few days, the Italians definitely lived up to their stereotype.

  • The crazy driving – It is insane here, no one indicates, the beep their horns all the time, they have no fear on the roads! The whole relationship between person and car here is, well, very dangerous. People just cross the road without even looking and expect the cars to slow down or stop for them. In reality, most cars will slow down but they aren’t very happy about it. When it is a green man, cars do not care, they will go through lights and then beep at you. There is no right of way here! I don’t blend in well when I am waiting to cross a road and I wait and wait and wait till both sides of the road are clear, people just look at me like I am crazy for waiting!
  • Coffee is very important –  I don’t drink coffee but here in Italy it is an integrated part of their culture. Everything in the city shuts down from 1pm to around 4pm, usually because of the heat but most of all, to have a long lunch break/siesta! I have to say this has been the weirdest thing for me. I am so used to being able to go for a wander around the shops in the afternoon but here, you simply cannot do it! This break is also used for relaxing in little cafes with coffee!
  • Food is probably more important than the coffee – As a great lover of food, all day, everyday, Italy is clearly the correct country to live in. My mentor invited me over to her house with all the other teachers that I would be working with and she cooked some dinner for us! Each teacher brought a dish. In Bari, focaccia is a very typical dish for a starter. But here, there is no one focaccia the same. Each bakery has their own special recipe for their own focaccia! In all honestly, it was absolutely amazing. It is very typical of this city and the region so I hope to eat much more of this! I was not prepared for dinner. So first of all, we had little snacks, olives and bread biscuits, then we moved on to the infamous focaccia. Now after this, I was expecting one meal and then dessert but oh how wrong was I? I then proceeded to have a Gateau di patate (think shepherds pie but with only ham and potato, served cold), then turkey with apple sauce, then zucchini and aubergine salad, the some bread and oils and finally ice cream. I mean, I was in a food coma afterwards. It was so good though! So obviously, you would think that I wouldn’t be so naive with the next meals. I had lunch at my mentors home on Sunday. There were 3 courses! In Puglia, they like to make their pasta with a lot of tomato sauce, and this pasta was heavenly! Then we had burgers with tomatoes and salad followed by the best dessert ever. Coffee chocolate ice cream cake – the best thing ever. So, when I come home from Christmas, it is to be expected that I will probably be 20 stone heavier!

focaccia_barese_dettagliofirst night

  • Italian people have the biggest hearts – This is the most important one. I have a mentor teacher here who is sort of responsible for me. I was picked up at the airport by a few of the teachers I would be working with and they took me to their house and offered me all kinds of snacks and drinks! They have made me feel so welcome! The teachers at the school that I work in are all so welcoming. They were sort of shocked at the fact that I am only 20. The 5th year students here are 19 or 20 so for them, they think it is weird for me to be so young and to be travelling by myself. Every time I have been introduced to someone, they followed it up with a hug and kiss and “che carina/che bella”! They are wonderful people! One thing I will say is, Italians talk at the speed of light, think this is something I am going to have to get used to!

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So far so good!

I’ll pop some photos at the end here, I had a tour of  Bari vecchia with my mentor and its absolutely beautiful!

12067224_10154206566513066_557759665_nchurch12083792_10154206566503066_702864460_nPano of view from bari vecchia

countdown begins

Hi there!

So here I am starting a blog which is something I have never attempted before but there is a first time for everything right? So in just over 3 weeks times, I will be moving to Italy for the year (which will also be my first time in Italy ever), very scary.

Anyways, My name is Riona and I will be spending my year abroad as an English language assistant in Bari, Puglia. Clear blue skies, beaches, sunshine and most of all, pizza – cannot complain!

I will be updating this blog every couple of weeks to let you all know about what I get up to!