This is Piazza Castello – the true heart of the city. All roads lead off this central stage to gorgeous shops, bars, restaurants, piazzas, museums, monuments, parks and the hills.
When I first arrived in Turin in 1997 this piazza was basically a traffic roundabout where cars, buses and trams circled manically around the central feature of the square – Palazzo Madama. Fortunately, that roundabout is history and since 2000 the main part of the square has been repaved. A minimalist arrangement of fountains in front of Palazzo Madama serves as a backdrop for many a wedding photo and provide fun and games and great delight to kids who love running and splashing through the jets of water. New, trendy cafes compete with historical ones – Baratti & Milano, under the porticos on the south side of the square, battles it out for custom with the new, on trend version of Fiorio on the corner of Via Garibaldi.
Where once there was a serious risk of getting knocked down by a rattling, yellow tram now you can stroll around and take in the atmosphere, sit down on one of the benches dotted around the piazza, watch the beautiful people and admire the surrounding architecture.
Here you are surrounded by vast baroque buildings that gleam with cleanliness and pride. Nearly the whole city was cleaned up to within an inch of its life in the lead up the the Winter Olympic Games in 2006. Take in the beauty of Palazzo Madama (home to the Museo Civico di Arte Antica) in the centre, Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace), San Lorenzo church and the Cappella della Santa Sindone to the north.
Don’t forget to come here in the evenings too. Winter and summer this piazza is full of life. Watch street entertainers or meet up with friends for a stroll and catch-up before going on to one of the great pizzerias nearby. Afterwards return for a post-pizza stroll and an ice-cream from Fiorio – bliss! Yes, even in the depths of winter!
Exams are just around the corner! It’s the end of term and time for celebrations of a sort as you all breathe a sigh of relief that another year is done. Phew! What’s more, summer is just around the corner. At last! But…hang on a minute…you can’t quite stop yet. Before you kick back to truly relax it’s time to start revising all that materials for those all-important exams.
Argh!!!! I can almost hear the collective groan of reluctance reverberating through cyberspace! But you know it’s got to be done. One last push to the end.
No sweat! Just one final slog to the finish line and then you’re free. Free to go off on holiday and spend that quality time with friends and family that perhaps you’ve found yourself having to sacrifice over the last few months. So, make sure the sacrifice is worth it and get cracking on your revision. No better time than now to start.
So, here are just 4 simple steps you can put into action now to ensure you are well on the road to exam success.
1) Get organised. The first step is to put your stuff in order. It may sound obvious but it really is the key to a successful revision programme. Make sure you can locate the books, notes, saved articles, video materials and references that you have worked hard to put together during your course. You have to be able to reach them and refer to them easily. You don’t want to be wasting precious time looking through pages and pages of notes or searching wildly and desperately through your computer files each time you need to find a specific piece of information. That time you save means you’ll be much more productive and it’ll even give you chance to squeeze in some free time and a catch up or two with your mates between revision sessions.
2) Create a plan. The second step is to draw up a revision plan. And this means to actually go to your diary and block out the days and times you are going to dedicate to revision. If you use a paper diary, highlight the time slots if necessary so that they stands out from the other appointments and ‘things to do’. Then you’re not likely to forget. If you use a digital diary, you could even set the phone alarm for the allotted revision sessions for the first week, until you start to get into the routine. Just the act of diarising will help you to actually do it and not get distracted by other stuff. It doesn’t matter if you have to adjust it later. It will have already entered your consciousness as something you will be doing for the next few weeks.
3) Set time limits. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to revise for hours on end. Cramming might be what we think we’re supposed to do but believe me it doesn’t make a lot of sense long term. Filling up all your time with revision will likely cause your stress levels to spike and is not good for your physical or mental well-being. In cramming mode you are not going to be putting on your best performance. Plus studies show that when we cram we forget what we have ‘learnt’ almost immediately after the pressure is off. You might pass the exam, but at what cost to your long term knowledge and personal well-being? Better to set specific time limits. For example, revise for 2 or 3 hours in the morning and then have a break. Revising that way, you are more likely to retain the information and the breaks will give you the mental space to think critically about what you have reviewed, leading to a deeper understanding of the issues.
4) Enjoy the process. At the risk of sounding impractical and overly idealistic I nevertheless strongly believe that we must aim to enjoy the task of revising. We are culturally conditioned to see revision as something negative – something that’s a pain and that gets in the way of the nicer stuff we’d rather do. But if we just change the way we think about it we can teach ourselves to enjoy going over our notes. Acknowledge that not only will this help you to pass your exam but the process will also help you towards longer term economic, cognitive and social benefits too. What you’re learning may be helping you to create the set of knowledge needed for a job, acts as a mental gymnastics that keeps us engaged with the world and people around us.
Getting started is actually one of the most difficult steps in the academic writing process.
You’ve got an essay to write? Or perhaps a summary? Maybe even a process report? Or you’ve got to get started on your literature review?
Where do you start?
It can be thoroughly overwhelming.
You’ve got a task, you’ve got a supervisor, you’ve been to the lectures, you’ve done a load of reading, you’ve participated in the seminar and you’ve got pages of notes.
But how do you start pulling it all together into one concise piece of writing?
The laptop’s open and fingers are poised ready to start hammering out those beautifully succinct, linked paragraphs. But the ideas just don’t come. You start typing a few sentences just to try and get started. But the ideas are not flowing. What you are writing sounds jumbled and awkward and doesn’t hang together coherently. You feel stuck.
There’s an art to writing. And as in the process of producing art, it takes time to get to the finished product. But you certainly don’t have to be artistic to see this through to the end. However, like any great artist, you do need to prepare!
If you prepare for the writing process is will be so much easier. I’m not saying it will be easy – just that the task will flow more easily. You will feel more comfortable…and hopefully even enjoy the process. The stress will have been taken out of it. Giving you more time for the other things in your life.
To do that here are my 7 steps for effective preparation:
1. Patience. Lots of it. Don’t try to rush through the first draft because you’ll only run the risk of losing focus in your writing and having to make more changes later on. Your supervisor gives you feedback on a draft that is considered to be the best first draft and is not going to mother you through the entire redrafting and editing process.
2. Focus. You need to concentrate on the task in hand and cut out any distractions – both internal (letting your mind wander onto other stuff) and external (sending messages, taking calls).
3. Confidence. A good dose of that too. You need confidence in your own ability to produce a piece of writing. You’ve done it before, so you can do it again.
4. Trust in the process. Trust that something will happen. It has happened before. It will happen again.
5. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Aiming for perfection is unrealistic and only leads to frustration and misery. Instead aim to do the best job you can with the tools and resources you have at your disposal at this moment in time. You can’t ask more of yourself than that.
6. Make sure that you’re not going to be interrupted for the duration of time you’ve set aside for writing. Put devices out of arms’ reach and make sure the cordless is in the next room. Update your status to let people know you won’t be answering messages for the next 3 hours.
7. Write a plan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t emphasise this enough. Before you even start writing your first draft you must have written a plan if you are to take the pain out of the writing process. And this doesn’t mean just a few words scribbled down on a scrap piece of paper! You need to have thought clearly about:
What the task is asking you to do
What you need to have done to answer that question – reading, note-taking, lectures, seminars, talking the issues through with co-students etc…
And if this is an essay, what your main line of argument is going to be and how you are going to support that with examples and explanations.
Indicate how these examples link back to your main overall argument.
The name Garibaldi conjures up three images for many people: the man who was one of the principle figures of the House of Savoy led Italian Risorgimento, a teatime biscuit (currants or raisins) or a main street in many Italian cities.
In Turin, Garibaldi refers to the former and the latter: Via Garibaldi a main, pedestrian shopping street, which is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) a man of many talents who was a revolutionary a general, a freemason, a politician, a horse thief, a seaman, a dictator, a hero (of Two Worlds – Europe and the Americas). The biscuit on the other hand was named after Garibaldi following his visit to England!
Giuseppe Garibaldi the man, was a colourful character at the battlefront of the Risorgimento – the political and social movement that eventually led to the unification of Italy, consolidating the different states on the Italian peninsula into one single state. Generally considered to be a bit of a loose cannon, Garibaldi was an enthusiastic idealist who caused more than a few headaches for the Risorgimento politicians.
Garibaldi was born in Nice, but served in the Piedmontese navy and came under the influence of republican Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72) who represented the popular front of the Risorgimento. He joined Mazzini in a failed republican uprising, which ended up with him fleeing to South America with the threat of a death sentence back in Italy hanging over his head.
There he developed a penchant for ponchos and romantic, swashbuckling antics and it was only a matter of time before word of his reputation spread back to Europe. On returning in 1848, Garibaldi gathered a group of volunteer guerrilla fighters together called Red Shirts (Camicie Rosse) whose uniform was inspired by his military campaigns in Uruguay.
His raging military actions from the south to the north of Italy created a thorn in the side for Cavour in Piedmont who realised that Garibaldi was better on side than not despite their differing aims. Garibaldi wanted unification – Cavour and King Vittorio Emanuele were initially just working towards the expansion of Piedmont.
The King seduced Garibaldi away from the republican influence of Mazzini but appeared soon after to withdraw support when he decided to hand Nice over to France and failed to support Garibaldi’s famous Sicilian campaign with 1,000 men. This did not go down well. The south however voted to join Vittorio Emanuele’s united Italy in 1860 but Garibaldi’s request to be Viceroy of Naples fell on deaf ears. Considered a rival to the King’s own popularity and certainly a danger to conservative politicians, he was left to spend many of his days in self-imposed exile on the island of Caprera.
Via Garibaldi, the Turin street, which today stretches for almost a kilometre from Piazza Castello westwards to Piazza Statuto, was originally the Roman Decumanus Maximus, which stretched from the Porta Decumana (now behind Palazzo Madama in Piazza Castello to the Porta Praetoria which stood at what is today the crossroads with Via Garibaldi and Via della Consolata.
Previously to being named after Giuseppe Garibaldi the street had been known as Via Sant’Espedito (St Expeditus, the patron saint of merchants and navigators) and later Contrada Dora Grossa (after one of Turin’s rivers). When Turin was under the occupation of Napoleon the street was called Rue du Mont Cenis, because it led to the mountain pass between Piedmont and France of that name. When the House of Savoy returned from exile in Sardinia in 1814 the street once again became Contrada Dora Grossa. Some years after Italy had been proclaimed a Kingdom it became, in the 1880s, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Other than the shops and cafes Via Garibaldi has some of Turin’s most interesting churches. Included among these is the Church of the Holy Trinity (Santissima Annuziata) at the corner of Via XX Settembre, the Church of the Holy martyrs (Santi Martiri) at number 25 and St Dalmatius (San Dalmazzo) at the corner of Via delle Orfane.
A couple of other interesting yet little known facts about Via Garibaldi is that it is almost “home” to what was the city’s largest private palazzo: Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana which was commissioned by the Marquises of Saluzzo to rival the Savoy’s palaces and which almost bankrupted the former sovereign House of Saluzzo.
The other thing is that one of Turin’s best schools, the Convitto Umberto I (or Humbert I College), is at the corner of Via Garibaldi and Via Bligny. The building that houses the school dates back to the early 18th century and was the work of three of the most famous architects who worked in Turin: Garove, Juvarra and Plantery.
Rather than go any further into Via Garibaldi it might be better to leave everything to the visitor and suggest that one of the other good things about Via Garibaldi is the fact that some of Turin’s most interesting streets lead off form it and offer visitors and residents alike some real treats to discover.
Turin, the capital city of Piedmont is situated in the north-west of Italy and lies tantalisingly close to the foot of the Alps. So, not only is Turin city centre great for walks and mainly pedestrian friendly, but it is also on the doorstep of a paradise for mountain walkers and only about a 2 hour drive from the Cinque Terre for those of you who enjoy hiking along clifftops.
Despite this close proximity to mountains and sea, Turin is actually much more well-known for being just a stone’s throw from Alba and Asti in ‘Le Langhe’ the gastronomic heartland to some of the finest vineyards and culinary specialities in Italy. And in Turin you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars where you can sample the local delicacies.
So, this is introducing Turin, where I have called home for nearly 20 years.
One of Italy’s most most majestic cities, Turin offers visitors and residents alike a wealth of wonderful places to see and things to do. So, leave the car at home, forget the bus, get your walking shoes on and just stroll around. If you enjoy watching the world go by in cafes, love museums, art, music, theatre, shopping and appreciate being surrounded by beautiful architecture then you’ll love it so much more from the comfort of your trainers. So, in my blog posts I’m going to be taking you around a few of my favourite city centre walks and we’ll be visiting some of the best of Turin along the way.
To give you some background, the first time I dipped a toe in blogging waters was in 2011 with This is Turin which I published on tumblr. Since then lots has changed. I ummed and ahed about upadating those posts but in the end decided to update the Turin Walks posts, which were actually the first blog posts I ever wrote, and post them here on larastatham.com.
Even though larastatham.com is a website for Academic Success Coaching, I thought it might be interesting for visitors to the site to get to know more about where I’m based. Websites can seem so impersonal, can’t they? But I think writing about the place I live in just helps to bring the website to life more.
So, discover what a special place Turin is for me. Be inspired to visit or rediscover old haunts. Enjoy reading!
Or are you feeling pretty laid back about it because you’ve got ages yet until you need to hand it in, right?
But time doesn’t stand still. The more you put it off the worse that nagging feeling is going to get that you should be at least be starting to check out some sources.
Or maybe you’ve sourced your references, made impeccable notes and have your bibliography in order but just can’t seem to find the time or rather you can’t find the ‘thinking space’ to get into the writing zone, sit down and start hammering away at the keys on your laptop, the words just flowing easily, fluently and succinctly onto the page, perfectly…like a dream.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? We dream about being able to write like that. Before we start writing, we wish that it could be easy…because we know what’s coming. We know that it isn’t going to be. We hope that our ideas, thoughts and viewpoint will magically turn themselves into perfectly synthesised logic of position, line of argument and counter argument.
Perhaps there are people with exceptional academic talents who find the writing process runs more easily and smoothly than for the rest of us. But most of us feel uncomfortable at the thought of writing academically.
We fear the writing process itself, thinking that it is going to be difficult, messy and overly time-consuming. But we also fear that our piece of writing is not going to be good enough. We imagine that we are not going to be able to express our ideas clearly enough. We worry what our supervisor will say in their feedback. We feel that perhaps we don’t have the right to be expressing our opinion on such matters. We don’t feel authoritative enough.
So, we procrastinate.
…the thing is, if we want to be successful in today’s world we have to find strategies to learn how to manage procrastination. It might be to our benefit to put a piece of writing off for a short period if we have an intense week coming up or if there are too many other things going on at the same time.
….we might be putting off writing because we’re persistently finding other things to do such as checking our phones, looking at websites, watching videos on Youtube, signing up for things, messaging, going out, organising stuff and being a slave to constant interruptions. Then we end up complaining about all the things we’ve got to do. But at a certain point we have to ask ourselves what our priorities are.
Stephen Covey in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ says we have to learn to ‘”put first things first” (Habit 3) if we want to be successful. So, if we really want to be our best selves in our academic life we can get rid of the worst of our procrastination if we learn to prioritise.
Well, here are some strategies for prioritising:
Learn to say no to ourselves and to others.
Learn to schedule your writing time and use a diary to make yourself accountable.
Get clear on your own values and the reasons why you have chosen to go to university.
Create boundaries for yourself so you can plan time for writing, for example, in the mornings and then use the afternoons for going out.
Learn to work in shorter bursts over longer periods so you avoid doing everything at the last minute. Set a timer if necessary so you stick to it. You will be much more productive this way.
Keep your notes and references organised in one place so you don’t waste time later.
Set strict limits on electronic distractions. Keep your phone out of arm’s reach when writing and close all other tabs on your laptop.
Update people on when you’re going to be writing and when you’ll be free and contactable. That way they won’t bombard you with messages if you don’t answer straight away.
If you put these strategies into practice you will find that your lives improve immeasurably. You will be more productive, people will treat you better and you will being to feel that you actually have more time to get our assignments done but also more time for downtime too.
You’ll feel so much better for it. And you will find that the quality of your writing improves too leading to better marks.
All the promise of a New Year lies ahead of us. New (or dusted down!!) goals, dreams and aspirations are the sparks that spur us on at this time of year to wanting to FINALLY achieve our life and business goals.
Now is the time to get started…And, if you’re afraid of getting stuck – as often happens when we make those oh-so-promising New Year’s Resolutions – why not hire the services of a Coach to help you really be where you want to be this time next year?
Myself and 2 Coaches I’ve worked with explain the benefits of working with a Coach and why this means we can ultimately achieve greater success in our lives.
Lara Statham, Personal Performance Coach
The benefits of having a Coach
I’ve worked with a number of different coaches, including Nick and Nigel who I interviewed for this article. And you can read what they say about coaching below.
But, for me the main benefit is the feeling of support I get in working towards the achievement of my personal goals. For me, that feeling develops because a coach does not judge you neither in terms of the goal you want to achieve nor in terms of the action plans you come up with during a coaching session.
As a result of that, when you work with a coach, you can express yourself with confidence because you know that your ambitions, desired results and efforts are yours alone and what you say to a coach is confidential. Plus, a coach doesn’t give advice or make suggestions and they don’t intervene with their own view and experience of the world in an effort to ‘help’ you or as a way of persuading you to come up with their way of doing things based on their own life experience.
Nick alludes to this below when he says that talking to colleagues or family members about our personal challenges isn’t always easy. I have heard that it can even be counter-productive to speak to people close to us because actually it can make us feel even more confused and less likely to make progress in achieving our dreams. Speaking to a coaching professional however, gives you the freedom to make things happen by laying all your cards on the table, while at the same time taking responsibility for how you get there.
Why I would recommend coaching
So, I would recommend anyone working with a coach because having a coach makes you become more focused on what you value most in your life. I agree with Nigel when he says, it’s about concentrating on what’s important for you. And that’s a real confidence booster. There is a great sense of happiness you feel in putting your personal plans into action which makes you feel alive and dynamic. You can’t beat that!
Lara is a Personal Performance Coach who divides her time between the UK and Italy. I help people find the courage to become the person they really want to be.
Nick Foster, Career & Executive Coach
The benefits of having a Coach
There are many benefits to having a coach, but my top 3 are:
Priorities – There is so much that I want to achieve and do in my life, it is sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees. My coach helps me figure what I should be focused on now, what can wait and what really does not matter at all.
Procrastination – Let’s face it, it is often difficult to get started on working towards what you want. My coach helps me figure out what is really stopping me, which is usually a fear or a limiting belief, and helps me work through these.
Safe environment to talk without fear of reprisal – I work in a corporate environment and it is often difficult for me to share things about my personal challenges at work with colleagues. It is also something my family would not really understand. My coach provides me with a safe environment to talk honestly and openly and helps me move forward with these challenges.
Why I would recommend coaching
So, if you want to achieve more in your life, career or business then a coach can help you get there. A coach will raise your awareness of what is important, help you get started, help you keep going whist constantly challenging you and helping you learn. Ask yourself if you have you achieved what you want in life? What is the next move in my career? What’s stopping my business growing 20% this year? If you want some help, speak to a coach. What have you got to lose?
Nick is a Career and Executive Coach working in the City of London. He helps top performers achieve more in their careers and lives.
Nigel Azzopardi, Business Coach
The benefits of having a Coach
These days there are coaches for all aspects of life such as sports, dating, business, executive and much more. I think having a coach is a must if you want to get ahead in life much faster and with a clearer path ahead of you.
From my experience having a coach is one of the best investments I ever made. There are huge benefits and I will mention a few of them here. Firstly, a coach will help you discover the goal that you really want in life. This is the goal that gives you the motivation to wake up every day and work towards it. It is a goal that might take 6 months to a year to achieve but once you get there it will be really rewarding.
The coach then will help you break those goals into smaller stepping stones which you will work on every week and will contribute towards the main goal you want to get to. You will get supported and challenged but also congratulated when you start reaping the rewards of the work you put in. By having a coach I am always focused on the important things, come up with ideas that I would have never thought of on my own, do things that I would never do unless challenged, achieve things that are my deepest wishes for me and finally, and most importantly I have understood myself better.
Why I would recommend coaching
This is why I recommend coaching to anyone who is struggling and also who is succeeding because a coach will always help you get to the next stage in your life. Think of those successful sportspeople. They all have a coach observing and pushing them every day. So why shouldn’t you have a coach if you want to move ahead in life and make a difference.
Nigel Azzopardi is a Business Coach based in London. He helps start-up entrepreneurs build their businesses.
Gabi comes from Poland, has been living in the UK since 2007 and is currently based in London. Outside her corporate life, she is an Intercultural & Soft Skills Trainer & Coach and often organises workshops in the capital. I caught up with Gabi to get her to give us her top tips for building a new expat life in the UK…
What inspired you to come and live in the UK, Gabi?
I was inspired by a call for adventure and my love for learning languages. English was on the top of my list so at around 16 years of age I started to become determined to move to the UK.
How long have you lived there? What motivated you to stay?
I’ve been living in England for nearly 10 years, starting out first as an Au Pair. Then I wanted to go to university, but realised that studying here would be more of a challenge than in my own country. Nevertheless, I was up for the challenge!! Before I knew it, then England just simply become my home. The longer I stayed, the more at home I felt.
Tell us something about you career in the UK?
It’s been a vivid journey, full of ups and downs. I’ve worked in several fields and I had to learn how to adapt to different environments. Currently I work in a cultural relations organisation where I’ve developed my skills in diversity, education and intercultural training. While studying Intercultural Business Communication, I’ve realised that this is an ideal field for me and so I’m now focused on building my career as a Trainer and Expat Coach, and I love the journey. I get to design and deliver experiential learning workshops, discovering my creative side. Progress is definitely one of the key elements of my life’s satisfaction.
So, tell us something about the things you like doing in your free time?
In my free time, if I find any (!), as I’m always racing somewhere, I love dancing salsa and studying Spanish. Luckily, my partner is Venezuelan so I have plenty of opportunities to practice. I very much enjoy nature so it’s always good to visit my home town in Poland, surrounded my mountains and forest. And I love travelling!
What would you say are the benefits of being an expat?
Being an expat opens your mind to a different world to the one you are used to. It teaches you resilience, it allows you to learn more about yourself and it creates a world of opportunities – that’s if you can spot them, so sometimes you need to be proactive. Being an expat is the best way to truly get to know different people and cultures and, for me, to simply enrich your life. I believe cultural competence could be the key to either success or failure in today’s dynamic, complex and globalised world of work.
What are some of the struggles that expats might have to navigate on a day to day basis?
Some of the challenges are dealing with culture shock and navigating around cultural differences. And I mean these tiny things which you may not consider at first – for example, communication style, approach to building relationships, or to resolving conflict. The tricky part is that these things can be cultural, or personal, or both, and so it requires some emotional intelligence, too.
Also, expat life sometimes can be lonely at the beginning, so make sure you build a good support network around you. For those who were born in that country the support network has always been there, but expats usually need to build a new one.
What would your top tip be to anyone thinking of making the move abroad?
I have 3 top tips. My first tip is to be curious – observe what’s going on around you and keep learning. My second tip is to develop your adaptability and resilience, because things won’t always be as you expect them to be. Thirdly, suspend your judgement – be aware of yourself and your biases. Remember that your map of the world is unique to you. Other people don’t necessarily have the same map.
Andrew Martin Garvey lives here in Turin, north west Italy and has called it home since he was 19. A good friend and colleague of mine, I popped round for a cuppa and catch up to see what he had to say about expat life here in the “Bel Paese”…when he also told me exactly what he thinks about the Italian health system…
What inspired you to come and live in Italy, Andrew?
Oh that’s easy and is a bit of a long story.
When I was about 15 my school organised a ski trip to Switzerland and one of the things I noticed the most, except for the snow, the skiing and the beauty of the Alps (and loads of other more politically correct things) was the beauty of so many brown eyed brunettes and I thought to myself that I’d have to marry a Mediterranean girl one day! I suppose that was my inspiration, ha!
How long have you lived here? What motivated you to stay?
I’ve been in Turin now for about 34 years (I also spent time elsewhere in Italy and taught in Trieste and Milan). As far as the second question is concerned the answer is a classic – I met Patrizia, the brown eyed brunette who became my wife and we’ve just celebrated our 33rd anniversary!!! We have two daughters: the eldest, Kimberly, is a doctor in Ancona while the youngest, Jennifer, is finishing her Master’s degree in Business studies in Turin and also finds time to do a bit of part-time work as well.
Tell us something about you career in Italy?
Like lots of other teachers I started out by working in a private language school using the
Direct Method and did a few stints as a so-called ‘conversation teacher’ in a couple of State Schools.
I then moved on to working for the Italian Army at the Officers’ College in Turin where I’ve been since 1986. I take my position there very seriously as I believe language is one of the things that is not only important for the officers’ careers, helping them in their roles as ambassadors for their country, but can also help save lives.
I also spent some ten years at a well-known Liceo Linguistico. I taught as an adjunct Professor at University (in Novara and Turin), mainly business and economics…and at the Law, Psychology, and Education Faculties. I’ve been a Cambridge University Examiner for about 15 years too. I’m still at Turin University’s Business School, the Scuola di Amministrazione Aziendale. But to be honest, more than a teacher, I like to see myself as a facilitator or motivator.
I also do some work for the local children’s hospital and am a consultant for one of Italy’s most useful charitable organisations ADISCO, the Italian Association of Umbilical Cord Blood Donors, whose work helps so many children who have blood diseases such as leukaemia.
One of the best things about my career is that in brings me into contact with people from all walks of life and that I have some wonderful colleagues, many of whom have become good friends. Oh, yes!!! There’s also the fact that I have quite a lot of free time which I can dedicate to furthering my professional knowledge, you know, getting additional qualifications. And I mustn’t forget that I also have a fair bit of time for my hobbies.
So, tell us something about the things you like doing in your free time?
Well, there’s travel with my wife, Patrizia. We try to get away as much as possible even for a couple of days, usually to see new places and take in a museum or gallery – and what better country than Italy!
I play some awful golf and am a cricket umpire with the Italian Federation and used to play for Turin back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Then there’s my rather “anoraky” hobby of heraldry and associated aspects: art, history of architecture, genealogy…not for nothing is heraldry called the “handmaiden of history”!! I’m a member of the Council of the Italian Heraldry Society (Società Italiana di Studi Araldici) and am the Commissioner for the UK of the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry.
What would you say are the benefits of being an expat?
I think the main benefit is probably sociological in the sense that I’ve been able to learn about new cultures first hand and learn another language. There’s also the benefit of not having to be subjected to that class straightjacket that still exists in many sectors in the UK. I have drawn some less obvious benefits from living in Italy as perhaps my knowledge of British society has widened because I’ve been able to make comparisons with other societies.
What are some of the struggles that expats might have to navigate on a day to day basis?
That’s easy. The first is the amount of red tape. But I’ve found that actually many civil servants will go out of their way to help foreigners.
Traffic is one of my bugbears. Italian drivers seem to think they are the only people on the road and all that double parking you see in any city is infuriating.
What would be your top tip be to anyone thinking of making the move abroad?
Make sure you are flexible and have an open mind. Remember different countries different ways and laws.
However, when coming to Italy specifically you should also enjoy the art, culture, food, nature on offer here…… and then we could talk for ages. But these are things that each person enjoys or sees in varying lights and with different eyes.
And don’t be put off by the health service which I’ve found, on numerous occasions, to be first rate and not at all as portrayed by the press. But I’ve been lucky as I live in the north, I’ve heard things are not always so rosy in other parts of Italy.