Hoy escribimos en e Blog de Hanna Cheda. ¿Alguna vez han soñado con estudiar en Italia? pues aquí les decimos cómo dar el primer paso.
Today we host our very first ‘guest of honor’ of the section”Crónicas en el extranjero” (chronicles abroad) of this blog. Julia Davies is a classical dancer, born in England, and she tells us all about her experience “viviendo en el extranjero” (living abroad). In this case, how it was for her to live 2 and a half years, away from home, in México!
As Isabel has already explained, it is very common for dancers to leave their home countries to go wherever an opportunity arises. For us, is is normal and expected, because a love of dance and a desire to be dancing easily trumps the wish to be close to home.
That is why, when I was offered a contract in Mexico, I said: ‘Why not?’ It is true that there were moments when I thought I might be crazy. I didn’t speak a word of Spanish, and I am about as ‘un-Mexican’ as possible: English, pale, blonde, blue-eyed and prone to getting sun burned in about ten seconds. Good start! Yet what I did have, (apart from the job) were two Mexican friends who gave me the confidence to go for it, with their friendship and their stories of Mexico. And what is life without adventures?
When you arrive in a new place, you immediately notice all the differences: how the meals are eaten at different times; how EVERYBODY arrives late; how taking the bus number 8 poses a daily risk to you life(!)… but before long you stop noticing differences and comparing, because before you know it, that place has become your home.
Mexico was full of surprises for me:
I never imagined such a diverse place, where jungle and beach, mountains and desert unite to form such a stunning landscape. I quickly realized that I could happily spend all of my holidays traveling around within Mexico, and still never experience even a small part of her beauty.
On my first day, my friend took me to eat tacos. I had never seen anything like it in my life! What we call ‘Mexican Food’ in England would surprise my Mexican friends too. But during my time in Mexico I came to love corn, avocado, chips with chili, tamales and enchiladas with mole sauce. (On the rare occasions where I have attempted to explain the concept of chocolate and meat to my countrymen, I get a horrified face of ‘Yuck’ – I’ve since given up trying, but I do miss them a lot.)
What I loved about Mexican Culture was that the people have a genuine desire to preserve the customs and history of their country. I had the pleasure of celebrating 15th September with friends, of visiting and hearing about ancient ruins, and of constantly seeing how music, dance and traditions are an integral part of everyday life. This gives Mexico a beautiful and defined identity, which remains strongly with me, even years after leaving.
I went to Mexico with the expectation of staying a year at the most. I ended up staying for two and a half years, and I could have happily stayed longer had I not felt it was time to dance in another company. Why? Mainly because the people I met in Mexico became friends that I will have for life. Without a doubt, the Mexicans are a very special people. They are always ready to help you, and do their utmost to make sure you are properly taken care of. They have great warmth and are naturally disposed to enjoy life. They are quick to love, to smile, to celebrate and to treat you like part of the family. People would ask me: ‘Don’t you miss your home country?’ And of course, I missed people and home comforts, but I never felt homesick because my dear Mexico made me feel at home from the very start.
It is easy to miss opportunities in life, for fear of stepping out into the unknown. I could so easily have decided that Mexico was too far or too different, and missed out of one of the most enriching and exciting experiences of my life. If you don’t know, you’ll never know!
Para ver la versión en Español de este post haz clik AQUÍ
If you are planning to date, marry or, anyway, falling in love with an Italian guy (or girl) please pay attention to this post. Take note of this useful advice, as if you make any of the following mistakes you will be certainly less attractive to that Italian crush of yours. Now, if you are not attracted to any Italian (at the moment) but anyway are moving to Italy, this could also be helpful:
- Drinking Cappuccino after 11:00 am.
If you order a cappuccino and you are not having breakfast, first of all the waiter will be as surprised as if you had just ordered a flying cow. And then your italian date, friend or whoever it is, will ask you: “What? Are you crazy?” I don’t know about you but before living in Italy I could certainly enjoy a cappuccino in the middle of the afternoon, but here it’s better if you order a Spritz. 😉
- Thinking that when somebody says, “let’s go get a coffee”, you’ll be chatting at the coffee shop or hours.
When I lived in Mexico going for a coffee meant time between friends. One of my best friends and I used to go to Sanborn’s to talk about a heartbreak or any issue we might have been facing at the time. I know it is not the best coffee, but we didn’t go there for the coffee, we went there to talk for hours as a kind lady would fill our cup again and again. So when somebody told me, the very first months I was here, “Let’s go get a coffee”, I thought “Boy! I am making friend so fast!” but it meant what it mean “Let’s go get a coffee”. As you know in Italy they drink espresso and it is really good, but very small, so they take about 4 seconds to drink the whole thing. No time to chat.
- Overcooking pasta.
This really could be cause for a divorce, just kidding. But remember “al dente” is always better. And probably what you think is al dente now, is overcooked, but you’ll learn 😉
- Putting ketchup on pizza.
Sin of the sins! No, no, no, don’t do it. And I know Italian pizza doesn’t need ketchup! It as amazing as it is! But give us foreigners a chance! We are used to it, at least in Mexico we are. When my husband, who at the time was my boyfriend, saw I wanted to put ketchup on my pizza, he made this disgusted face he could not hide. I think not saying anything was the first proof that he really loved me ;).
- Be patient with Coffee.
Coffee (mocha), again, must be cooked on a low flame. Don’t rush! You will burn it and the taste will be awful.
- Eating between meals.
This is one of the habits I admire most of Italians, or at least of my husband and my husband’s family. They are good eaters but they eat when it is time to. Even if, let’s say it is 11am, and they are hungry, they’ll wait for lunch time, at 1:00 pm.
- Mixing wine with sodas or anything else.
For Italians wine is very important and it should never be mixed (with coke, lemon soda, etc). Why?? You‘ll just ruin it. I think they are right, but when you are on a low-budget and get poor quality wine (as it happened to me many times when I was studying) you have to mix it. But don’t worry you’ll find the best wines here.
- Eating bread while you’re eating pasta.
It’s a matter of nutrition, carbohydrates don’t go together with carbohydrates. I used to do it a lot… but my beloved affirms it is a no no, unless you do it AFTER the pasta, you take a piece of bread and do the “scarpetta” so you don’t waste any of the delicious sauce remaining on the plate. Yummy!
- Sit in the right chair when you go to a restaurant.
I found this really peculiar. You and your group of friends, or extended family, arrive to a restaurant and you are about to sit on the first place you spot, you don’t really care if it’s in the middle or by the side, or who is going to sit next to you, but you have no idea! Places should have a sense, you’ll sit either by gender, or by age , or maybe even by marital status. It takes longer but it is well intended, this way of assigning places has the purpose of making everybody feel more comfortable during the meal.
10. Pineapple is a fruit not a topping.
Pizza with ham and pineapple is a very common combination, in Mexico at least, and I confess: I like it… I love it! But can’t find it here, and won’t I guess. Sweet and sour flavors are not a common thing in Italian food.
Ok, know you are well informed about the most common mistakes a foreigner can make with Italian food and the reasons to avoid them. If you fail don’t worry and just enjoy the wonderful, delicious Italian cuisine!
Have you received awkward looks by these or any other mistakes you have made in an Italian kitchen?
Para leer la versión en Español de este post haz click AQUÍ
To read the Spanish version of this post go to this LINK
Today we bring you an interview with Silvia Bitelli, certified teacher of Baby Sign Language, who will let us know everything about this method which improves communication between adults and children who are not yet able to talk. The original interview is in Italian but we have translated it into Spanish and English. Enjoy!
Silvia Bitelli has a degree in Modern Literature and will be graduating in Primary Education sciences, she is a Baby Sign Language certified instructor (Baby Signs ® Program) and educator of Italian for Foreigners Teaching (DITALS). She works as a teacher of Literature in the secondary school and, since about 15 years, as an au pair and educator of young children; since almost 3 years she uses Baby Sign Language in a daily basis and from a few months she began to lead in Italy the first workshops for families and educators.
- What is Baby Sign Language?
The Baby Sign Language is an extraordinary American method that allows a more complete and effective communication between adults and young children who are not yet able to speak. This is a simplification of the American Sign Language (ASL), which takes advantage of the natural tendency of young children to use signs to communicate and teach them to express with their hands needs, desires and emotions, and thus to be understood more easily by those who care of them.
- Where and when did it start?
The method was established about 25 years ago in America, where some scholars, such as Joseph Garcia, Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn, realized, through interesting research conducted separately, that, as well as deaf parent’s hearing children are already prematurely able to communicate through gestures with their families, also the children of hearing parents could, by teaching them the signs, do the same; For this reason, they have created a simplified sign language, suitable both for the limited fine motor skills of children, and for the ability of hearing adults, who do not normally have the opportunity to use the language of the deaf, to memorize a potentially large number of gestures . The method has been extremely successful and has spread rapidly in many countries of the world; in Italy is unfortunately not very well known yet, but I see with great satisfaction that since I started as a teacher, to spread the word and to encourage its use, the number of households that use the BSL is increasing.
- Who is it addressed to?
The Baby Sign Language is addressed to all those who have the goal of helping a young child in its cognitive, verbal and social growth, especially parents and siblings, but also grandparents, nannies, educators and teachers at kindergarten.
- What benefits can it offer our children and us parents?
The benefits proven by scientific research, that the Baby Sign Language offers children and their families are many, and really important: to communicate through signs helps the child who is not yet able to speak, to reduce his frustration (this means a significant reduction of crying and screaming!) and to build his self-esteem, it allows him to share his experiences and his feelings with adults, strengthening the link with his parents, it provides him with an constant opportunity to improve the eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills; Moreover, contrary to what one might think, it is a tool that greatly helps children learn to speak earlier or more quickly.
- Can it work in a family in which more than one language is spoken?
Absolutely yes, actually for multilingual families it is really advisable, not only to understand the needs of their child, but also to allow him to assimilate faster all linguistic systems to which it is exposed. The Baby Sign Language can, in fact, be considered a “language bridge” linking words that have the same meaning in different languages to a single sign, the child, focusing in a short time on the sign as its point of reference for understanding the meaning of the word, will learn it faster, and just as quickly he will have the ability to express the concept with the gesture until he will also have the ability to verbalize it.
- At what age should we start?
There is no specific age to start, every moment of the first two years of a child’s life has its specific advantages! Personally I recommend to start as soon as possible, even at birth, so that children are exposed for a long time to the use of signs and benefit for a long period; of course, if one starts after the first year of life, it is more likely that the child quickly learns and uses a large number of gestures; it is possible and useful to start even after the child is two years old if he is a “late talker” or if he is exposed to more than one language.
- At what age do children begin to use signs?
On average, children begin to sign around 7-9 months old, some after, some before; it happened to me several times already to see children 6 months old already able to sign one or two gestures, a lot depends on how much and how Baby Sign Language is used by those who take care of children!
- Could you recommend us any book to read more about the subject?
In Spanish you may refer to the book “ Señas con su bebè” by Joseph Garcia, who is considered the “founding father” of Baby Sign Language.
- Are there any courses in Italy that us parents can follow?
Yes, since not long ago! With great satisfaction I can say that since last February, as a certified teacher, I activated with my colleague Paola Castellani, bilingual and English teacher for children, workshops and playgroups in Italian and English to explain to families how to use the Baby Sign Language in both the monolingual and the bilingual perspective. The workshops have already started in Modena and Milan. Starting from autumn, at the request of families and professionals, they will also begin in other cities!