Today, we’re so excited to be speaking with Emily!
Hello! I am a part of the Tutoring in Italy program, and I was placed in Milan!
How did you find the job and work experience in Italy?
So far, my experience has been phenomenal! I could not have asked for a nicer, or more accommodating host family. The job itself is easy enough — helping my kids with their homework, watching television with them in English and explaining things they may not understand, correcting their speech… Pretty simple stuff, I think. Working in Italy has been a little challenging. In Milan, most everyone speaks at least basic English, but sometimes the meaning of the words is lost in translation.
How long was the program you did? Why did you choose that length?
My program is nine months. I originally wanted a full year, however most families only want someone for the school year, which I think is the perfect amount of time. Coming for only three months limits you on what you’re able to see, and where you are able to go outside of the city.
Could you describe your job position in Italy?
So the bulk of my job is in the afternoons and evenings. I meet the kids at home after school, and we go over what happened at school that day. Then we start on any English homework they have that day, or study for an upcoming test. If they don’t have any schoolwork, we just talk. Conversational English is as important as the grammar, so I try to make sure everyone in the household (including the parents) gets a chance to talk openly with me.
Italy has an amazingly social culture, and people we place there often make lots of close, long-term friends. Could you tell us a bit about making friends and your social life in Italy?
At first I found it difficult to make friends. It wasn’t until I was added into some groups chats with other au pairs and tutors in Milan that I started to be more social. Once I met a few people, it was really easy to feel comfortable meeting more, and doing group outings. There is always SOMEONE around who wants to go for a walk, or go out to eat, or go to a museum (or 10). The key is to allow yourself to meet people. Don’t shy away from the opportunity!
Any recommendations for someone visiting Italy for the first time? (ie. your favourite spot, great food, activities to try etc.)
Go visit as many of the smaller cities as you can! Genova, Lucca, Turin, Venezia, Bergamo, Brescia… They all have so much character and they’re all so breathtaking! My personal favorite is Verona. There is so much more to the city than Romeo and Juliet! When you visit Verona, go check out Giardino dei Giusti! My favorite spot in Milan in Sempione Park. It is a giant green space in the city (one of only a few places with grass), and you can always find a quiet spot to sit. Or to watch the ducks and turtles that live in the pond in the middle of the park! As for food, the best food I’ve had in Milan is the Carbonara. Every restaurant makes it different, but it’s so much fresher and tastier here than in Canada. The number one thing not to miss in Milan is Castle Sforza though. It’s 3€ to go through all the museums, and it’s a full day experience that really shows you what Milan is all about!
Teaching is such a rewarding way to discover a new country. Could you describe your day-to-day as a tutor?
The experience has been the most fun and rewarding time! I found that once I got to know my host family, the conversations flowed and it became easier to catch their mistakes.
A typical day for me starts by waking up at 7:00. I make sure the kids are awake and get to school on time, I take the youngest to school and then am free from 8:30 until 2:00. At 2:15 I start working with my oldest, we have lunch and then do homework until 4:00. At 4:15, I go pick up the youngest from school, and then we play and do homework until about 5:30. Then at 6:00 my middle child gets home and I chat with her, and help with homework. We eat supper at 7:30 every night, and then I am off for the night. 9 times out of 10 I end up watching a movie with the kids, and then bedtime for everyone is at 9:30.
It’s a pretty light schedule, but it can get very busy between 3:00 and 7:00!
Do you have any favourite moments from working with your host family?
I think the best moments we’ve shared have been around the dinner table. When the entire family joins in the conversation, and we all end up laughing at something that happened during the day or (more often than not) laughing at something I said or when I attempt to speak Italian. My Italian is a work in progress!
Working abroad is more than just working. What were your favourite things to do outside of work hours?
I love learning, and I have gone to a lot of the museums and art galleries in Milan. The first Sunday of each month, the state museums have free entry, so I try to see as many on that day as possible. I also spent a lot of time wandering around the streets. Each area of Milan has its own distinct personality, and I have tried my best to experience all of them!
Life in Italy is different from life in Canada. Do you have any favourite moments that stand out to you as “typically Italian” and which you wouldn’t have been able to have in Canada?
Aperitivo is a huge thing in Italy! Basically, Aperitivo is a buffet-style meal, meant to be an after work drink before dinner. Essentially, it’s a snack on the way to a proper sit-down meal. But it’s a buffet! It’s a cheap alternative to going to a restaurant, and you get a drink and unlimited buffet for a fixed price. I wish Canada had this practice!
What part of Canada were you coming from, and how did you hear about Scotia Personnel?
I am from the Maritimes! Born and raised in Nova Scotia, I’ve lived in Prince Edward Island for 6 years, and I lived in New Brunswick for a year to attend college. I heard about Scotia Personnel through my college program. I studied Travel and Hospitality, and Marilyn came into my class for a presentation on Scotia Personnel. I think I signed up for the program while she was still talking about it, to be honest!
Could you describe the interview and placement process?
The interview was fairly simple. It took an hour over Skype, and it was essentially a series of questions to see if I had the right temperament/maturity to be a part of the program. The placement process was also really easy. Scotia Personnel has a partner organization that was in contact with me and sent me families to interview with. I think I interviewed with 10 different families before finding the one I lived with. 100% I would work with Scotia again! They were easy to contact, and I would love to participate in another of their programs!
Living abroad isn’t for everyone. Would you consider living in Italy, or another country outside Canada again?
I would! I think Canada is wonderful, and after spending time abroad, I definitely think I take Canada for granted. I strongly believe that cultural immersion is the best education you can receive, and I think everyone (especially young people) should experience living abroad at least once in their lives!
If you were to meet someone considering life abroad but afraid to take the leap, what advice would you give them?
Take a breath and jump, my friend. It’s going to be scary, and it’s going to be lonely at times. The easiest part is getting on the plane, the hard part is staying. In the end, this is the best experience you can gift yourself with. How many people can say they lived abroad for a year and regretted it?! I’m guessing very few!
Would you recommend our Tutor in Italy program?
Yes, I recommend this program! The job itself is making sure people learning English as a second language, understand the meaning of words, as well as the function. The benefits are endless! It is so easy and cheap to travel around Europe. The experience of living with an authentic Italian family, and learning to cook authentic Italian food is life-changing. It never feels like you’re completely alone, because your host family is always available to you. The positives of being a tutor really are endless!
How did our partner organization Italy help you during your stay?
Elizabeth at Celtic Childcare has been the biggest support system here! As soon as I matched with my family and the initial paperwork was signed, she sent an extensive email detailing everything about Milan. After three days here, she set up a meeting with me, to see how I was settling in. She checks in with me regularly, and if I run into any problems, she is very easy to get ahold of, and she usually has the problem solved in a matter of minutes. I cannot say enough good things about Celtic!