I am a little late on posting about the Comenius assistants meeting since it was a few weeks ago in Rome but here we go.
I decided to not just go to the meeting but also spend a few days in Rome. I mean why not? However, I ended up regretting that decision. Rome was great the first time I went but this time it had lost its magic. I put it down to the fact that living in Italy has changed my perspective. The first time I was a tourist who was oblivious to the ridiculous prices, termini train station and the seriously flawed metro system. The fact that it rained most of the time didn’t help either.
I traveled with another assistant who lives in Perugia so the train journey wasn’t boring. By the time we got to Rome I was glad to get off the train. The three-hour train journey was tiring for me since I had already spent two hours on a train going to and from work 😦 . She checked into her hotel and I checked into my hostel, which might I add was the perfect hostel (I stayed at Alessandro downtown). It was warm, clean, 24 hour reception and it has everything you need.
We managed to get inside a bar/restaurant before it started to rain. We ordered our drinks and they brought us some aperitivo. The aperitivo was just a bite to eat. What else did I expect in Rome? Normally aperitivo is enough for a dinner but when in Rome you will not get half of what you should do!
We proceeded to an Irish pub where they had cider (it’s the only place I have seen it). Of course I couldn’t resist having a pint of it. It was only after I found out that it was €6! I was missing how cheap ‘normal’ Italy is. If you truly want to experience Italy you need to go to less touristy cities where the travelers go and not the tourists.
I met up with some other assistants outside Termini at 0845 to get the metro to the meeting. We thought 45 minutes should be fine to get there. Once we got off at our stop it was supposed to take 15 minutes to walk there with the help of google maps! Honestly google maps always seems to save me and gets me to where I need to be!
When we go to the meeting we registered and then we got breakfast. They had coffee, cakes and cornetti all for free!
Being Italy of course the breakfast ran late and then there was a power cut which delayed the start of the meeting. Oh Italy will anything ever go to plan?
There was several different presentations with lots of useful information. My favourite presentations were the ones on best practices. One was by a former Italian assistant who went to Romania and the other was by a previous host school in Rome and their assistant. I found the second one especially interesting because the assistant stayed in Rome after and she is currently working in Rome in a language academy. It showed me that you can get a lot out of your assistantship and you can have such a positive experience that you might stay in the country.
They provided us with lunch which was delicious. All very Italian! Plus there was wine! That’s something we never got at the pre departure meeting in the UK.
In the afternoon we were divided into groups of assistants and contact teachers. We were given real life situations that have happened to assistants and we discussed what we would do in that situation. It was good to hear the responses from both the contact teachers and other assistants.
When we left the meeting it was raining, just my luck! It hadn’t rained all day when I was inside but when I was going to do some sightseeing it was raining. Not just normal rain you get back home but torrential rain that soaks you. I had to buy an umbrella from a man on the street luckily it didn’t break until just before I got on the train.
We went off sightseeing in the rain. We went to the Fontana di trevi, Vittorio Emmanuel II, had dinner and then we saw the Colosseum. By the time I got back to the hostel it was 1030. It was nice to put some dry socks on and get a good nights sleep.
It was still raining. I checked out of the hostel and we went to the Vatican. When we came out of the metro we were constantly bombarded with people trying to get us to buy tickets for the museums with a queue jump at the amazing price of €45 per person with our own guide! What a great deal….not! They were also informing us that the basilica was closed. Turns out that the basilica was only closing later in the day.
I just took some pictures bought some postcards and sent them off from the Vatican post office.
I ended up getting an earlier train back to Perugia because the rain was just too much and I had already seen Rome so I wasn’t missing out on anything.
However, termini train station is horrible. There are far too many people hanging around trying to steal from people or begging. When I was buying my ticket from the machine there was gypsy women asking if I needed help and then there was a man putting his hands in machines to see if anyone had left money or tickets. I quickly hurried away as soon as I had my ticket. Also when I was in McDonald’s there were gypsy women going around asking for money from people. They were annoying one man so much he gave in and gave them some money. I just really don’t like that train station. You really need to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
So that was my trip to Rome which ruined Rome for me. This time I didn’t have my rose-tinted glasses on. I realised that I could never live in Rome. It’s just not a city for me.