Emma Carter - 2015 Program Participant

Climbing Mount Vesuvius in Italy

The volunteers who climbed Vesuvius

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I decided to apply for an international program because I had just finished my first year of university and realized I was getting older and having more responsibilities, meaning I may not get a chance to see the world for a very long time. I have always loved to travel and decided this was a great way to do it. Volunteering seemed like the best way to go, because I could share something that is so natural to me, but that is so valued in other places. It was my first time truly travelling alone, and I am so happy I chose this as the way to do it.

Why did you choose IVHQ?

I chose this program because I have been working with children for many years, and also love to travel and experience new cultures. This made the teaching English program in Italy a perfect fit! I got to share my knowledge and spend my days with the kids, while having the to opportunity to live in a new place and explore it on the weekends.

What was your favorite part about living in Naples?

My favourite part about the location was that there was so much to do and explore. There was never a moment when I was bored. Being located in the heart of Naples gave me the opportunity to go explore a new part of the city everyday and just get lost in its beauty. Being in Naples also gave me the opportunity to travel on weekends to amazing places, such as Mount Vesuvius, The Amalfi Coast, and the Island of Capri. Some volunteers even spent a weekend in Rome! The city had a good transportation system, with easy to understand buses, subways, and trains. Everything about being in Naples was perfect!

The view from the top of Mount Vesuvius in Italy

Mount Vesuvius from the rooftop terrace

What made your program one-of-a-kind in your mind?

The program I participated in is unique because it gives international volunteers the opportunity to be part of the official school curriculum. We used the workbooks already present and were given a chance to improve the learning abilities of the children, and therefore give them an opportunity to excel at a better rate. The volunteers got to go to a number of classes, from grades one through five, giving us the chance to experience all sorts of age groups and English proficiencies.

How did the local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff in Italy, INN (International Napoli Network), were absolutely incredible throughout my program! They made me feel very welcome and at home, and made sure I had everything I needed. They were always there to answer any question I had, whether it be about my placement or the best place for pizza. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with them and consider them to be my second family. I most definitely will be returning to Naples to see them again.

Is there anything you wish you would have done differently during your time in Italy?

The only thing I wish I would have done differently is stayed longer. I was originally booked to be there only two weeks, but before my departure I asked to extend to three so I would be able to enjoy it more. In the middle of my program, I realized that I had fallen in love with everything about this program, so I called my mom and told her three weeks wasn't enough and that I wanted to extend. Paying the program fee was no problem, the flights, however, were a different story. The cost to move my ticket, or simply purchase a new one, were ridiculously high, making it impossible for me to stay longer. I came home after three weeks as planned, and still wished every day I was back in Italy.

What was a typical day like for you as a volunteer teacher in Italy?

My program began with me waking up at around 8 a.m. and getting ready for work. I would leave the accommodation just after 9 a.m. and walk to my placement. The school where I was teaching at was only a five minute walk away, so really not far. After having checked my schedule and gone to the appropriate class for the hour, we would begin the lesson. The lessons followed the school's workbook, therefore going with the curriculum. I helped the kids with their pronunciation, created scenarios where they could interact with each other using day-to-day English (such as having to describe a classmate or ask certain questions). I would assist about two to three classes a day and then be on my way home.

Since the volunteering finished around 12:15 p.m., I would walk back to the accommodation and have lunch. The rest of the day was up to me! I'd either walk around the city, go sightseeing, or spend some time on the roof getting some sun. When all the volunteers got back from their placements, we'd have dinner and either go out or relax around the accommodation.

Capri, Italy

Arriving at Capri

What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?

My favourite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of my program was probably just leaving the accommodation and going wherever my feet took me. This allowed me to explore different parts of the city and experience some breathtaking scenery. I would be gone for hours on end and come back completely exhausted, but immensely satisfied with my new discoveries. The city is spectacular and I promise you will never get bored just walking around, taking in the beauty in everything and everyone.

What was your accommodation like?

The accommodation was a dormitory style apartment located in the heart of the historic centre of Naples. It was just footsteps away from Piazza Bellini, a popular area for young people and minutes away from a million pizzerias and local shops. The accommodation was very clean and spacious, with windows lining every wall. The best part about the accommodation had to be the rooftop terrace overlooking Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. It was the perfect place to catch some sun, have dinner parties, or watch the stars at night.

Now that you're home, how has teaching abroad impacted your life?

There really is no way to explain how much this program abroad has impacted my life. All I can say is that I am a better person, I have learnt to appreciate things a lot more and feel better about myself. I wake up every morning wishing I was back in Italy, making my way to school for work. I miss the kids, and their smiles and laughter. I miss the people, I miss the culture, the food, everything. The only way to truly understand and feel the satisfaction of returning from a program abroad is to get on a plane and go do it. You will absolutely 100 percent not regret it, and it will surely be the best time of your life.