Every day was in itself a highlight and a privilege. Living in two different cities and environments
for the entire three months is quite a remarkable experience. The students
are forced to test and develop their adaptability and resilience in various challenging situations. Furthermore,
in order to optimize this situation, the students must fine tune their time-management skills: it is hard to prepare
for a midterm when the nightlife of Rome is calling.
What do you think the students got out of this program?
This was not a holiday, neither for the instructors nor for the students, and classes started on the Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. Clearly the students had selected to exist for three months in foreign climes: this is both exciting and demanding but provides a unique learning opportunity.
How was the experience of teaching in a new environment?
Both cities offered the instructors challenges with the teaching environments: small boards; not enough boards;
white-board pens drying out in the middle of a lecture; temperature and noise and constructions issues. Dealing with these various issues, forced the instructors to become role models for the students as we were being observed in our reactions to, for example, the power being cut off in the middle of a lecture. I think that there was a great benefit to the students
watching the instructors' reactions when unusual (non-Waterloo) situations arose. The students also had to adapt to these
unusual and possibly disruptive scenarios, and they did very well in dealing with them.
What would your advice to future participants be?
Pack lightly, selectively and intelligently. Be selective in what you purchase. Try to do some advance planning, especially concerning any travel arrangements and just general knowledge about the areas where we will be staying. Learning a little
French and/or Italian in advance will certainly be beneficial.
Please share a special story that you experienced on the trip.
I liked working in the old building in Trastevere late at night during the week.
Classes would finish around 3 p.m. and a group of 5-10 students would regularly work in the building until almost midnight, popping out to eat either back at the residence (10 mins walk away) or at one of the numerous restaurants in the area. Francine and I would do the same, especially if there was some kind of test the next day. This created a pleasant atmosphere of camaraderie.
I enjoyed bumping into the students out in the cities and sharing in their delight of the whole experience. Two particular incidents stand out:
I) in Barcelona one night, Francine were having dinner at around 11 p.m. in one of the many restaurants near the port (Barcelonneta) and a group of 5 students entered the dinning area and proceed to order a huge Paella which they shared,
they were having a wonderful evening.
II) There are many famous and lovely painting in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, yet my favorite pictures are some of the
lesser known still life's of the Dutch and Flemish Masters. I saw one of our international students staring in absolute wonder
at one such small picture, and we shared a conversation about how remarkable we both though it was.