June 15 2010
I am currently sat in a cubicle on a train, somewhere in between Geneva and Milan, eating left-over pizza from last night, planning an epic journey home and trying to get to know my new partner in crime as we head towards our first camp.
This week of orientation has been one of the most insane, knackering and fun-filled weeks of my life. I guess I had gotten to the point where I was pretty convinced that eventually one of these little adventures was not going to work out right, I was going to have a bad time and not really meet that many great people. Through some flawed logic I had anticipated that my experiences would have a peak and either decline with age and responsibility, or plato out with familiarity and ease. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t super excited about this whole Italy thing that I thought it would be the one to start me on the slippery slope. How wrong can I get?! Minus the lack of sleep, free time and big beds, I can honestly say this is probably the best start to an adventure I have had yet.
Basically there was a 120 18-28 year old English speakers spread over three hotels in San Remo. All food and accommodation provided, we trained from 8.30 until 6, had an hour to shower, then met again for dinner and wine in some restaurant we had booked out, followed by a party in bar opened especially for us, home by 2, late night heart to hearts and spooning, bed at 3.30 and up at 7 to do it all over again. In the days we sang at least one song an hour, made up skits, did drama training, learnt grammar, invented chants, made costumes and spent two mornings teaching real life Italian kids in the beating sun. Not kidding, it was hot! Sometimes we’d be outside all day with no shade and we’d be singing and jumping all over the place and even for me, that requires a lot of energy!
As ever though, it’s the people who make the place and here was no exception. There was everyone from Australians to Canadians, to Scotts and Irish and South Africans and obviously Brits and Americans. There were teachers, artists, writers, travellers and a bunch of actors and singers…some nights after dinner things did go a bit Glee as we’d walk down covered alleyways breaking out stella drunken performances. Granted, given the collection of big personalities, there were a fair few pretentious pratts who asked the dumbest questions known to man, but we won’t get into that! After having made a conscious decision to try and make friends with people who lived relatively close to me at home, I have found myself amongst the Irish and Scots, who despite their making me excessively guilty about being English, are a lovely bunch of nutters who I have taken great pleasure in getting to know. We’ve had the greatest adventures…we got lost down some scary backstreet maze at night and ran together from savage dogs and old ladies, we led the karaoke for a whole night with some classic eighties tunage, we went swimming at night in our underwear on a private beach, we got chatted up by some guys from god knows where and well we were a constant walking joke…Englishman, Irishman and a Scotsman…haha!
But now, we have parted as people are scattered about Italy in random groups with people they may or may not know. Camps are usually only one week long though, so perhaps in our next rotation we may be near each other, or even together…either way, I’m pretty sure I now have some people a little closer home to visit! My first camp seems a little intense if I’m honest, but I think it’s going to be great. Me and this Canadian guy, Matt are heading out to Bolognia to run a camp of 20 kids in a small village. Neither of us has done it before. Neither of us really quite know what’s going on. This next week could get pretty interesting, but if I am to judge it by the first, it’s probably going to be pretty bloody amazing too!