Friday, February 20, 2004

My First Week of Schooooool! (by Sarah)

SIENA, February 20th

Well, I haven’t written for a while, so it’s a good time for an update! School is going great, although it could be better. Unfortunately, the only class I know exactly what’s going on in is English. READ MORE!!!!!

Last class, we read a whole article about how “Accidents Do Happen.” It was very interesting because of how the article was taught. First, he picked one student to read the whole article. This seems to be a common thing in all classes – to pick on one student for the whole hour. But anyways, the article was all about a train accident and how crashes like that can occur. I was surprised with the certain things that the teacher picked out of the article, and I actually learned a thing or two. For example, we discussed the word “plunge” because the train plunged down off the tracks. We also discussed the term “In the wake of…” When the teacher asked me how to define it, I said it was like a result or consequence of one thing. He also went back and showed the other meanings of wake – such as to wake up, and how a boat makes a wake behind it. I was very impressed with the depth of the lesson and the knowledge of the students as well as the teacher. Even with my 5 or so years of Spanish, I don’t think I would know as much Spanish as they know English.

In math, I am pretty sure that I have done what they are doing already. It’s hard because I had algebra last year and geometry this year. At Liceo Scientifico, they have geometry and algebra together. So today, we had a whole lesson on proofs and theorems and then we went into imaginary numbers and quadratic formulas. It’s hard to follow, especially because all the terms are in Italian, so just realizing that he was teaching proofs took a few days. I think I will end up doing alright in math as long as I have someone next to me for the first week or so explaining the terminology.

Technical drawing is another class that I will be able to participate in. It basically ties together geometry and art. We get different assignments and we have to make these solid shapes in numerous ways and transfer information from certain quadrants to others in order to see the solid in a different view. I’ve only made one so far, and I have to say I’m not very good at it. But with more practice, I think I will have a really fun time in the class. It is really interesting that the same teacher teaches both this class, and the art history class because of the connections he can make to what we are drawing. He’s got the whole “hands on” and “applying knowledge” thing going on, which I really like.

Science is a class that I am not too sure about. We are studying exactly what I have studied this year, endocytosis, exocytosis, and the whole biology story. I know what he is teaching, and could easily explain in English, but having everything in Italian is really hard because again, of the terminology. I think that the teacher thinks I can’t really do anything, but I’m not sure about that yet. I want to get a book for both math and science, and study the terms, and I think I’ll be fine.

Italian is really cool, believe it or not. Today we had a lesson on “Le Figure Retoriche” which is basically rhetorical structures. I already knew things like alliteration, metaphors, etc. but the way that it is being taught all together like this (my dad says its from the Greeks…?) is quite different than how it would be taught in the U.S. so it’s pretty neat to be learning it. I took some notes from the book, and with Arianna’s help (a girl who is very good in English) I could understand some of the examples. One funny point in the class was when I was called upon to repeat after the teacher, of course having no idea what I was saying. She explained (in Italian) that there are words that sound and are spelled exactly the same, and some words are almost the same (sound the same to me….) and mean different things. This was an example of “paronomasia” under the category of “figure di suono” which is basically putting words next to each other with the same sound but different meanings – a pun.

Latin, History, and art history are classes I am hopeless in. I have never studied Latin, so Latin taught in Italian is simply impossible. History I haven’t actually had yet, but I’m sure I’ll know somewhat of what’s being taught but it’s just so fast in Italian. Art history I am buying the book because there is no doubt it is very interesting material. The class is just not a good class to be asking questions and understanding in because as it is, the students sit quietly at their desks while the teacher lectures away – a common Italian teaching method I have learned.

I think that religion class is going to be very fun. I have it on Wednesday, so we’ll see how that goes. I met the teacher and she seems very nice. I’m pretty sure that what most of the class time is spent both watching movies and discussing religious views. Couldn’t hurt.

My final class I am taking is Physical Education of course! Unlike Lexington High School, gym is a simply delightful hour in which kids can either be lazy or have time to let all of their pent up energy out. My class, 2C shares gym time with another class, which I think is 1F, but I’m not sure. The class is also split up so the boys go in one gym, and the girls have a different gym. In the one class I have had, we ran (jogged at a nice slowwww pace) for like 5 minutes and did some stretches. Then we had a sort of physical fitness test where we had to sit with our backs to wall and legs spread apart and see how far we could throw this heavy ball. So we all waited around while people finished up, and then we played volleyball! It was the first time I had hit a volleyball in quite a while, and it was nice to play again. Some of the girls are very “girly” in the game and jumped away from the ball when it came near them. Others were very skilled and it was cool playing with them. They play very differently than I was taught but play very well. They always include everyone, which is really nice, but a bumping circle with like 15 girls is not very easy.

So, I have usually four classes a day, but some classes are two hours. This means that I get out of school at either 12:30 or 13:30, which is really good. I go home for lunch and don’t have to go back to school and it’s really relaxing. I have not had a lot of work yet which is very good because we have been able to go on day trips after school to see places (the Servi, the monasteries, etc…) and I have gotten to do a lot of sketching.

That's all for now! Keep checking for more updates!

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