This week, we had the opportunity to speak to Rashae about her time in Italy. Welcome to the blog, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us!
Rashae, which program did you do, and where were you placed?
I did the Tutor in Italy Program. I was placed in Turin, Italy but I also stayed in a town called Bardonecchia which is also in Turin.
Tutoring is a fantastic immersion experience. How did you find living and working in Italy?
Honestly, I was nervous but my excitement trumped my nervousness. It was such an eye opening experience. I didn’t feel homesick at all while I was there. Not only did the family that I stayed with welcome me with open arms, but it also felt like Italy itself embraced me! I felt like I was home.
I was so grateful for the family I stayed with, and also the experiences and the self confidence I gained while there.
Working in Italy – although I wouldn’t call it work – felt like an adventure everyday. It was an amazing summer of growth and discovery.
I was in Italy for almost two months. It was my first time going abroad by myself, so Italy was sort of a test for myself. If I had known I was going to love it so much, I would have stayed much longer.
My job was basically, interacting and spending time with the family I stayed with. We talked, talked and talked some more. It was amazing. Amazing in the sense of being able to share your world views with others and learning something in return as well.
We enjoyed each other’s company and appreciated one another’s differences and experiences.
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?
My social life in Italy was very different from my social life in Canada to be completely honest. In Italy, I felt my horizons broadened and life felt much more exciting.
I usually like a more slow-paced life but in Italy, there are times where everything is going so fast and then time creeps by slowly and I enjoyed that everything had its time and place.
Making friends in Italy wasn’t as hard as I assumed it would be. The people there really welcome you with open arms.
Any recommendations for someone visiting Italy for the first time? (ie. your favourite spot, great food, activities to try etc.)
You have to make sure to get authentic Italian pizza while down in Italy. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Italian pizza isn’t as packed and heavy as Western pizza. It’s what pizza is meant to taste and look like.
I’m a foodie, so most of my recommendations will be food. Just make sure that you do as the Italians do, especially when it comes to food and you can’t go wrong!
Teaching is such a rewarding way to discover a new country. How did you find the experience? Could you describe your day-to-day as a tutor? Ex. 7:30 wake up, 8:00 class with 8 year old etc.
Since it was my first time really tutoring someone I was really nervous, but it turned out much better than I expected. It was a lot of fun. I like for my tutoring style to be fun and entertaining so I came up with games to play, we would listen to English songs, and we would just talk.
My days usually started later in the morning, I would join the family for breakfast sometimes and then we would talk for a while. The child I was looking after had tennis lessons in the afternoon, so we would either walk or bike there together, but that’s when we’re in the country side, which is where we stayed for most of the summer.
The other times we were in the city of Turin – when the parents had work – it was fun in the city as well. We would walk around the city, and also went to an Egyptian museum.
My favourite moments are from talking after dinner. We would talk for an hour or two after eating. We would talk about everything: politics, day-to-day life, being socially aware, what we thought would make the world a better place – and we appreciated each others views on each subject.
It was very refreshing.
They had a beautiful, adorable golden retriever so we would take him for a walk after we finished talking, and just walk around town Italian style and continue talking and laughing. They really are simple things, but it’s the simple things that matter.
Working abroad is more than just working. People go overseas for different reasons, and love different parts of their life abroad. What were your favourite things to do outside of work hours?
Traveling within Italy is fantastic. So, going to Milan, Venice and just even walking around Turin. Each of those cities is different in its own ways, but each city is just as mesmerizing as the next.
I also loved meeting new people and travelling around with another au pair friends I made, which makes the experience even more fun.
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?
I love how families come together to eat. Honestly, you rarely see that in Canada. Everyone’s so busy here (not to say they’re not busy in Italy, but in Italy when it comes to family you can see the importance clearly).
They make time to spend together whenever the can, and I really admire that. They’re always either going out to eat together or inviting friends and family over, and they’re always present when with each other – not getting distracted by phones or by a TV.
They actually want to know about your day or how you’re doing. It’s honestly something simple, yet so amazing.
Deciding to work abroad can be a tough decision. It helps to hear about international opportunities through close friends, but not all of our participants hear about us through word-of-mouth. What part of Canada were you coming from, and how did you hear about Scotia Personnel?
I heard about Scotia Personnel from my brother. They came into his college and spoke and he became very interested in them. He knew that I really wanted to broaden my horizons and travel so he told me about Scotia and their different programs around the world.
Could you describe the interview and placement process? Would you work with us again?
Honestly, the interview and placement process were very smooth. I was very nervous at first though, because I thought maybe I wouldn’t be qualified to do the program, but they were so friendly and helped me every step along the way. It was really easy in the end.
I’m very grateful to Scotia Personnel for giving me the opportunity, and they’re just an amazing company so I would definitely work with them again.
Living abroad isn’t for everyone. Would you consider living in Italy, or another country outside Canada again?
Yes, in a heart beat! I want to keep expanding my horizons and keep pushing my boundaries.
If you met someone considering working abroad, but afraid to take the leap, what advice would you give them?
Going somewhere you’ve never been before and living there on your own can seem scary, but honestly it’s such a thrilling feeling once you get there.
Being on your own in another country helps you overcome some of those fears and restraints that you’ve put on yourself. It honestly helped not only boost my confidence in myself but also it gave me courage to want more in life for myself. It’s okay to go for your dreams and reach for the stars.
My fear of moving on and doubting myself constantly just disappeared. I felt like I could do anything.
To be honest, everyone’s experience will be different but give yourself the chance to know more than just your small world, the world is such a beautiful and vast place. Do yourself a favour and get to know more than your small corner of the world.
I would definitely recommend the Italy program. Honestly, just look at it from this viewpoint: forget about money for a second. Think about the amazing experiences and things you could learn, not just about yourself but about a whole other culture: the people, the different cities, the social culture, and don’t forget about the food! Give yourself the chance to explore the world and push your boundaries.
They were great. They check on you to make sure you’re doing okay, and help you get in contact with other au pairs/tutors while you’re down, to show you you’re not alone in your journey.
They were very helpful, so I’m grateful for that.