Teaching English in Italy: Sanremo & Genova

Ciao a tutti!

This year I decided to fill a few empty weeks of my summer doing something that I love, and that I have actually spoken about on here before. After thinking that I probably wouldn’t return to working with LSF in Italy again, somehow I wound back up on the beautiful Ligurian coast for a couple of weeks ready to teach a whole new bunch of Italian kiddies! Two years ago I did the same thing- read about that here and had such a great time so I took the plunge and put myself up for it again- this time for two weeks. In my last post about working with LSF I explained everything, but the bare essentials of the job are:

-       Turn up at a beachside resort in Sanremo
-       Stay there for a week learning songs and games that you will use on camp to teach English
-       Have lots of fun during free time in the sea, at local bars and playing beach volleyball with glistening Italian men
-       Go to your camp, wherever that may be (you are allocated the day before you go!)
-       Stay with a host family during your stay, who will feed you and love you like their own child
-       Go to camp every day and sweat your tits off
-       Finish the two weeks of camp with a show that your darling, sweet Italian bambini will perform in perfect English to their weeping parents
-       Get drunk to celebrate that its over and you can stop sweating now
Working with a view!
I was placed in the lovely seaside city of Genova, with a sweet guy called Steffen. We got on very well and didn’t mind taking it in turns to nap during break time... He made camp a lot more enjoyable for me, because we actually only had 11 kids in the entire camp; 5 of which were in my class, making it a very quiet and more of a job for us to entertain them. Stef was constantly cracking jokes and making me smile, and I even arrived one morning at 8am to him meditating in the morning light of his classroom.. it was magical.

Host Family
My host family were by far the best part of the experience this time around for me. Part of the reason I wanted to work with LSF again is because I am now in my final year of an Italian degree, so living and breathing an Italian lifestyle would always be beneficial! My host family couldn’t really speak any English, thank god! So I was ‘lucky enough’ to speak only in Italian for two weeks solid. It did mean that I started to sleep walk and talk in Italian, which was a hilarious first for me.

My host family consisted of Mama Daniela, Papà Angelo, and 8-year-old twins Jenny and Gabriel (the cutest, most well- tempered children!) oh, and two little bunnies. I really struck it lucky with my family and felt so at home. Daniela treated me like her daughter and best friend- and she sends me a weekly photo of a gnocco’, or a very sexy man, and Angelo calls me “MY DARLING!” (always shouted) and tells me I will “never walk alone”. He is also a salsa instructor, and one day during dinner he pulled me away from my pasta/the table and just started dancing with me- with only the Italian news in the background keeping the beat. It was really funny and made me feel really at home.

Angelo’s simple yet tasty cooking blows the socks off any normal Italian restaurant in the UK. Every day he would prepare a ‘primo’ first plate of pasta followed by a ‘secondo’ main dish of meat, usually accompanied by salad or cooked vegetables in true Italian fashion. Breakfast isn’t really a thing in Italy, so when I made them all a classic English breakfast on my final Sunday before leaving, it really threw a spanner in the works when it came to lunch time and nobody was hungry! Ooooops.

I was a little disappointed when I was allocated to such a small camp, after experiencing a camp of almost 60 kids two years ago. However, it ended up simply being a totally different experience! Stef and I had to work together and work harder to entertain such a small amount of kids, especially in the first few days when everyone was finding their feet. I bonded with my class (the younger kids, aged 8-12) nicely, working my way into their hearts by letting them listen to their favourite songs, (which were secretly my favourite songs too), and also because I can speak Italian I was able to help the younger ones when they really couldn't communicate in English in some situations. We spent the day singing songs and playing games which aided their language learning, as well as doing classroom activities which focussed on teaching the language.

I said it before and I will say it again: I would recommend working with LSF or a similar organisation to anyone interested in: getting out of their comfort zone; travelling; teaching; meeting new people; enjoying incredible food every day; living with a host family, and getting paid to sing songs and drink wine on the beach for a week. I write about my teaching experiences in the hope to inform and inspire anyone else thinking of doing it, so if that’s you, stop thinking and just do it!
Lunch date....HOW CUTE!? 

Do you think you'd be interested in teaching at camp?

A presto!

Olivia x

Coffee Politics

Coffee. The dark nectar. The reason you make it to work with your eyes open. The glue that repairs broken friendships. An excuse to waste hours of the day chatting with a cute guy over a cappuccino slowly going cold… More than just a strong caffeine hit. And let’s not forget, it is the famous best friend of students worldwide. Coffee is way more than just a beverage. It’s one of the drugs least frowned-upon all over the world- and the dealers who know exactly how to perfect their product are the famously thirsty Italians.

Italian simplicity

Drinking coffee is a natural movement in an Italian’s day. It is so ingrained in their routine that they don’t even realise they’re doing it. “Prendiamo un caffè?” is not so much a question in Italy, it is a declaration that’s rarely resisted by the addressee.

To explain how habitual it is to drink a quick caffè (a single espresso) whilst out on the go, bars often have two prices for the same drink. Your bill depends on if you drink al banco or al tavolo (at the bar/at a table); obviously costing almost double for those cappuccino-drinking tourists who almost definitely need the table to support their DSLR camera-weakened arms as they slowly sip away.

On that note, let me tell you rule numero uno about drinking cappuccino in Italy: it is a breakfast drink and you are likely to incur an eye-roll (or two) when ordering after midday.

Coffee done wrong?

Outside of Italy, however, for example in the UK, we have a different attitude towards coffee. Obviously there are the usual grab-and-go to the office types, but from my experience as a twenty-something-year old student, going for a coffee in the UK is often a much more leisurely affair. Coffee dates can last between 30 minutes to an hour or more! We English don’t simply order a coffee and drink it without a chair beneath us- are you crazy? We utilise the time to catch up with friends and treat ourselves to a nice piece of pie while we’re at it!

The best cappuccino I have ever tasted in Rome!
Furthermore, unlike the simple flavours of classic Italian coffee, popular places such as Starbucks and Costa in the UK give the opportunity for the double-shot-skinny-vanilla-latte-with-a-dash-of-cinnamon-or-cocoa-when-feeling-frisky drinkers to also join the party, often following fashions and celebrity trends.

So, what is the correct way to drink coffee? After living in Italy for the past 6 months, I have experienced both the quick caffè and the hours sat with numerous cappuccini being delivered to my table in my favourite cosy coffee shop. I have come to the conclusion that there really is no right way of drinking coffee. To avoid looking like a tourist in Italy it is important to obey the ‘midday rule,’ but apart from this, I would say that anything goes.

P.s, here’s a recent article declaring fashionable Starbucks’ entry into the Italian coffee market! How do we all think that’ll go? 

Erasmus Year Abroad: Being Assaulted and Halloween Happiness

Last Saturday was Halloween, which meant that there were of course some funky shenanigans on the cards - but still our usual Thursday night party ensued. Therefore, we battled through the weekend, drink after drink. Thursday's plan was to have a fairly chilled night in our local bar/club ‘Bella Vista’ so we were alive and kicking for our friend Toby’s party on Friday and then Halloween celebrations on Saturday. Of course, the chilled Thursday night wasn’t as chilled as we planned, so Friday was a bit of a struggle! (But not a struggle that free sangria couldn’t fix!)

So, here's a little tale about the events of Friday. There we were at Toby’s party, where free sangria flowing like a river, when I suddenly felt somebody softly touch my bum. I jumped round to find a man, about mid 50s standing there without a care in the world. His grey hair matched his equally grey tracksuit, which struggled to fit around his disgusting soul. I didn’t think too much about it and carried on having a good time, but then my friend told me he had also just touched her. I began to get annoyed with this man who was clearly there just to molest the young women at the party. Later, I happened to witness his creepy sausage fingers grope three more girls’ backsides. This just didn’t sit well with me - I’d had enough. I grabbed his hand off the third Italian girl, who thanked me gratefully and then with a blank expression, the man held his hands up to say “Whoops”. I told him pretty much to stop effing touching everyone up, as it’s not OK, and I turned back around to my friends.

A minute later, my brain told me that there was a nice cold beer being poured over my head running through my carefully straightened locks. As I tried to come to terms with what was happening, the grey man finished by throwing the now empty glass bottle at me, still, expressionless. Rather than instantly flipping out, I was in shock about what he had just done, and also disturbed by the look on his face as he threw the bottle at me. He was taken out of the club, still holding his hands up as though he was innocent.

I went to the ladies to have a second to think about what to do: go home and be really angry that this man had pissed me off and ruined my freshly washed, blow-dried and straightened hair; or to stay out a say YOLO. I decided the latter would be the better option, and I was bought sambucca shots to cheer me up. Incredibly, as the beer in my hair started to dry, it created some wonderful volume and I quite enjoyed the look. Every cloud, hey?

But seriously, it’s not right that this kind of thing happens. In my opinion, this guy should be locked away before someone else tells him to stop harassing them, and he punches them in the face or something. But as my friends and I have discussed, we would probably be laughed at or certainly not taken seriously if we reported him. And this provokes the thought in me about how many other young women, and anyone else in fact, don’t report this kind of thing.


When Saturday came we were pretty exhausted, but the party was still on! After some hilarious pre-dinks in my flat with a fair few of us in my living room, we headed out to the Piazza Del Campo for a huge silent disco party. Hardly anybody was dressed up (as expected) because Halloween isn’t really a thing in Italy, but we did the usual “minimum effort facepaint” and got away with not being spoilsports.

Unfortunately, not all of us were able to get the headphones from the company, because there were so many people that wanted them. Thankfully, my aforementioned pal Toby gave me his own headphones that I was able to plug into my phone. The rest of my friends had the proper headphones and I was unlucky not to get them, but it really made no difference that I was listening to my own music rather than their shared playlist. At least I was in control of the tunes and could secretly listen to Shaggy- Boombastic as many times as I liked, heheh. We all agree that we felt like 13 year olds at a school disco, starting conga lines and not having a care in the world! It was so great to look all around and see so many smiles - the biggest of which was coming from Toby who was having the best time out of everyone. I even felt the need to take an extremely blurry selfie of Toby and I to capture his happiness mid conga, of course - here it is!

Again, this post has completely ignored anything about studying or the actual purpose of me being in Siena. However, at least you’re getting a real insight into an Erasmus student’s life, right?!

A presto!

Hair Care: My 'No Poo' Experience and Life-Saving AVEDA

Similarly to most other human beings on the planet, I am always on the look out for amazing hair and beauty products that are that little bit special. Being a student, it is sometimes hard to fulfil my desires for such products, so I love it when one happens to come along at a fairly low price, or if one is extra special that I can justify digging deep for.

No Poo

I love to experiment with different products- especially those that may be somewhat strange. This meant that when I heard about the 'no poo' method for washing your hair, I was pretty excited to give it a try. I won't go too much into detail here about what the method entails as this page clears it up nicely. To cut a long story short, it involves washing your hair with products other than with conventional shampoo and conditioner - fun, eh?! This is to avoid the nasty chemicals used in shampoo/conditioner that make your hair feel clean, but actually strip your hair of its goodness (such as sodium laureth sulphate/ SLS). I'm getting into checking the labels of hair products after reading a lot about the nasties you often find in your normal products, so I'm actually starting to feel like I'm on a diet!

Mistake 1 - Solely using baking soda

Last year I decided to give this crazy idea a go! I went for the baking soda option because it was something I already had in the cupboards. This involved me washing my hair with a teaspoonish amount of baking soda diluted into a jug of water each time I washed it (rookie error). It doesn't feel particularly good because it doesn't foam up like a ice shampoo does- it just kinda goes on your head and then you wash it off. After this I would sometimes use some kind of hair mask/conditioner on the ends (such as Ro's Argan Body Conditioner - yes, you can use it in your hair!) from LUSH because their products don't contain those pesky nasties that I was trying to avoid. I often left this conditioning stage out though, because  Ro's Argan can be a bit heavy and I hadn't yet found an alternative.

Mistake 2 - Not using conditioner

When I went away to Italy for 6 weeks I bought a 'New' shampoo bar from LUSH to take away with me, as it is a little easier to transport in a suitcase than baking soda. Because of the whole 'avoiding chemicals' pilgrimage I was on, I became a little despondent to using conditioner whilst I was in Italy, so I ended up just using my trusty shampoo bar.

Bad idea.

My locks were in a bit of a state after 6 weeks, to be honest. "Blimey, your hair's dry!" was literally the first thing my Mum said to me when she hugged me hello. So I knew that I needed to stop being silly and take better care of my hair. But, I wasn't sure how to do it without returning to cheap shampoo that would also further harm my hair.


Thats when I discovered AVEDA damage remedy.
After trying to be smart by saving money and not using nasty chemicals on my hair, it turns out that I pretty much caused more harm to it than good! The ends of my hair were very dry and I felt pretty guilty for abandoning my hair. Therefore, to rectify my mistakes I forked out for a hair cut and this dreamy product which I had read great reviews about.

Aveda products incorporate plant and flower essences to create products that are good for your hair, skin, face etc. I was recommended by the assistant in the Bath store to use Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair which would supposedly repair my hair from the inside out. I use this product every time I wash my hair (every 2-4 days). I simply squeeze a 5 pence piece amount into my palms and rub together and then lightly stroke the product through my mids and ends whilst damp after washing. It acts as a heat protectant from irons and blow drying, and also helps as a de-tangler, so brushing time is reduced significantly! (And trust me, I appreciate that!) You can then safely blow dry the product into the hair or just leave it to dry naturally like I do.

To accompany this product, I bought some Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner which contain natural ingredients so I didn't revert back to naughty, cheap drugstore shampoo. This worked pretty nicely for me- it didn't foam very much (which is a good sign) and my hair didn't get greasy very soon after washes. It was also pretty cheap at around £10 for the pair. Yay!


Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair is a very good product. It smooths, detangles, protects from heat and repairs your hair with friendly and organic ingredients. It's not a miracle worker, but I do think that it contributes to the long-lasting, good condition of my hair. Maintaining long hair is hard, and this product reduces my hair-brushing rage A LOT, which in turn means that I rip less hair out. Win win!! It has also lasted me a long time which is surprising, seeing as I have so much hair.

I wouldn't recommend anybody use baking soda on their hair for a long period of time, especially if you aren't using a conditioner to accompany it. I have heard that using apple cider vinegar is a good, natural conditioner that can be used alongside the baking soda, so perhaps give that a try if you are dead set on going 'no poo' using baking soda!

I'd love to hear your stories about how you have gotten on with this method/ or if you will give it a try after reading this! Fingers crossed you learn from my mistakes.

A presto!