I am now near to the end of my stay in Italy. I have achieved my basic objectives of delivering some teaching and of learning basic Italian. I've also spent some good times with friends here of long standing and made some new ones. While here I attended language school and right now I feel like a schoolboy anticipating the end of term
It has been an interesting adventure internally. Not so much externally, as I have not ventured far nor done anything extraordinary. Weekdays I have attended language school in the mornings and in the afternoon there has been a good deal of homework to tackle. I've also done some teaching of Buddhist psychology, seen a few clients for psychotherapy, explored the city (and its bookshops - Milan has some very good ones) made or joined a few cultural, touristic visits and otherwise led a rather sedentary existence.
Internally, however, it has proved more turbulent than I expected. The experience of "going back to school" stirred up a host of emotions and memories, especially from my rather troubled adolescence, and I have found myself doing a good deal more "emotional work" than I anticipated. Also, being in a class full of people in their twenties and thirties, highlights one's stage of life and its impermanence, not least that whereas I have more life experience than they, their minds fizz along at a much faster rate of knots than mine does.
Furthermore, learning a language involves a lot of talking about life situations, and such courses are inevitably predicated upon an assumption of a manner of life that is considered socially "normal". One film that featured a carnivorous diet was too much for me and I absented myself. Other discussions sometimes held my attention and at other times felt irrelevant to my typical activities. This highlights the fact that my own life has been and continues to be far from such. Nonetheless, one learns a good deal, not just linguistic, but also sociologically. All this makes for a lot of reflection.
Some people have told me that I am very bold to have embarked upon such a venture at my age and I know what they mean. It has been a challenge. I'm glad to have done it. I'll be pleased to get home. I am invited to teach in Italy again early next year. Until then I shall have to see if it is possible to keep up my Italian. My new little library of volumes in the language will help. And, when the time comes, I shall have to decide whether to "go back to school" again.
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