Italy 2019


Learning and positive Aspects week 1

Entry 1

After a long day,we arrived at our apartments late that night.Good to be in a new country.Long time since I slept in a bunk bed.I like it.

Next Day

Trip to meet Gianluca?our Erasmus connection.A lot of walking,but meeting nice people.Explore the town after,and what a lovely place it is.Pizza & tiramisu that night, gorgeous.I like this place.

Entry 2

Make our way to our work placement.Mary & myself are placed together.I didn’t know Mary before the trip,but by the end of the week,we’d become good friends & had a lot of laughs.Was not looking forward to the work placement.I had no intention of going into the area of disabilities,but I was going to do my best.There were 2 sides to the building we worked in,so we were going to do a week in each,then swap.I had no previous experience in this area & was placed with people with severe disabilities.

This was a shock for me,I had no idea of what I was going to do or how I’m going to communicate with anyone.I did feel a lot of stress & was relieved when the day was over.

After work our reward was a trip to San Marino.What a beautiful place.I love to explore new places,and every where you look here is gorgeous.Sharing experiences with other people is a wonderful thing & I think the connections I made with people on this trip was the best part of it.My buddy Paul,Paola, Eileen & Mary are a joy to be around.

Entry 3

As the week moved on,my thinking around the work experience started changing.I still don’t like getting up at 7 in the morning,but I was getting a lot from the experience.The staff at the centre are lovely,& watching the love they show to the clients is amazing.I’d made a buddy with 1 guy there,who was latching on to me in the mornings.He brought his toy ๐ŸŽธ with him everywhere & I found a guitar there myself to practice with.

Entry 4

In the morning everyone sat around, pray for each other & sing a couple of songs.A good way to start the day.Over the week,I took part in the different exercises to help & stimulate people.Music is an integral part of their therapy,& was played around a lot of activities.We did some drawing,make jigsaws,watch over their art & crafts.

Rubbing cream into clients hands & stimulating the muscles by getting them squeezing cornflakes!coffee beans or dry rice was another new one for me.Another day I was pushing my friend around in circles in his wheelchair, underneath silk clothes & sheets,while Mary Poppins was being played by the pianist in the background ๐Ÿ˜†a long way from my comfort zone!but you do get a sense of satisfaction to see them happy & the staff particularly Lorena,who spoke reasonable English were brilliant with us.

Entry 5

Another day was a trip to one of the hotels in Rimini,where we all made cookies together.I’d enjoyed my first week at work and would have stayed in there,but it was better to swap about & give Mary a chance on my side.Another one of the clients would bounce over to me telling me stories of him being a lifeguard in Baywatch or running his hotel amongst other stories.It’s great to see people dealing with such difficulties being so happy ๐Ÿ˜ŠThe rest of the free time during the week,we had a day trip to San Leo.I think this was my favorite place,A gorgeous day in a beautiful place.The history in the castle is amazing,I need to learn more!

If the walls could talk,there would be some very scary stories.The torture inflicted on people opposed to their beliefs were horrendous & I’m sure some of their spirits still remain there.

Entry 6

The weekend was a trip to Florence.A guide brought us through some of the sites as he endlessly bombarded us with the history.In truth I probably took in 5% of what he said,but it’s enough to inspire awe of this wonderful place and the familiar names from history.The pizza was also the best I had in Italy.

Entry 7

Sunday was spent, just 3 of us, window shopping and wandering around another part of Rimini,nice to get away from the group,bit of peace and quiet,and no big discussion about what way to turn or walk๐Ÿ˜‚good company and good food๐Ÿ˜‹

Week 2 at work was a little different.I had swapped with Mary and where I was now,the clients were more moderate in the level of disabilities.There were different people and different personalities.The day always started the same, with prayers and music.It,s a nice way to start the day and lovely to see them offer prayers for their friends and families,my own name was even mentioned a few times ๐Ÿ˜Š

Entry 8

Throughout the week I got to sit in with a computer class thought by a brilliant teacher.He brought in 3 clients at a time along with myself.Getting them to sing through the lyrics of an Italian pop song and then editing it to make it sound pretty good ๐Ÿ‘ I also got put on the spot for an interview,answering their Italian questions in English,and he changed my answers to Italian for them to understand.Sound confusing,but it was good.

I spent another day making simple necklaces with a few of the clients.All too soon my time there was up and I have to say I will miss my time there and the interaction between clients staff and myself.

Entry 9

The endless cycle of activities continued for the rest of us throughout the week.A group of us went on a trip to learn to dance.I never dance,but I am willing to try anything,and I think my self conciousness had nearly disappeared at this stage ๐Ÿ˜‚ Thankfully there were no cameras allowed inside.I was brilliant and a complete natural ๐Ÿ˜‰though I did have to be patient with my dance partner๐Ÿ˜‡

A lovely trip to Ravenna came later in the week and our little group had a great time exploring this beautiful town and eating gelato ๐Ÿ˜‹

Entry 10

Venice was our last big trip.It is a beautiful city,loads of history, quaint little narrow streets and loads picture opportunities.It was busy though,even in February and I wasn’t as blown away by it as I was in some of the other parts of Italy.It needs to be seen though.

We had a great night for our last night in Rimini.We did have a change of accomadation but that didn’t matter.Gianluca set us up in a great little club.Our little gang stuck together and I think it was my favorite night.

Following day was waiting to go back to Ireland ๐Ÿ˜ฅall good things come to an end.It was the best holiday I think I ever had.The connections made and the laughs make for great memories.The friendships that grew with Paul,Paola, Eileen and Mary and all the others I was so comfortable with were wonderful.The people that organized and stayed with us Alex and Paul and John in college did a great job.not everything went to plan or turned out as it was supposed to,but that’s part of travel.

Challenges Encountered

The big challenge was obviously going to be the language. Though we’d had some Italian lessons before we went to Italy, nothing compares to real life situations. Gaining a little confidence and speaking a few words or phrases does increase the confidence,but it takes time. Next time I go back I’ll put a bit more practice in beforehand.

Besides that we managed quite well. Most people speak a little English and with the help of our personal interpreter ๐Ÿ˜‰and making use of body language,or just pointing,it worked out fine.

The work experience was a big challenge, especially with the language and not being used to that environment,but again it turned out to be an enjoyable experience. I think if you do make a little effort and be nice about it, it’s appreciated and Italians in general are easygoing friendly people.

Being part of a large group and making decisions or keeping people together was also a challenge. Too many personalities and viewpoints.Wandering around aimlessly looking for places was too common an occurrence and organizing people to stay together and clashing if personalities was a problem.

It was better when the group split up and did their own thing.


For me the big challenge going there was going on holiday with a large group of people, most of which I didn’t know very well. I was used to traveling to new places and doing my own thing. This turned out to be the best part for me. After the first couple of days,it became quite easy to fit in with the rest of the crowd. I gone on well with everyone and was comfortable in myself with them.

Naturally I was more drawn to some people than others and enjoyed myself most when spending time with them. My opinion of travel has changed in the fact that I enjoyed myself much more amongst this group than in many of the other places I’ve been on my own. Things are better when shared.

The work experience was a massive eye opener. I would have been quite adament that I would never work in the are of disabilities before I went. By the time the 2 weeks was up,I could understand how people end up working in this area and rule it out myself. It is very satisfying to see that you can help these people in coping with the challenges of their lives and you can bring them happiness through simple things.

Making connections with them can happen very easily. The first day I went there,I think my attitude was not open to what I could get out if it. Over the 2 weeks that changed from seeing how the staff deal with them and the love shown. The rules of working in that environment I think are a lot less lax than in Ireland,which is over run with rules and laws. There was a lot of kisses and hugs to calm people and make them feel better.In this country you’d have to consult the rule book before displaying such open signs of affection.


Italy is all about the culture. It is very different from here in the attitude to life I think.In all the places we were,it was noticable how clean everywhere was. The architecture and buildings are fabulous,and I think there is a much stronger sense of pride and respect for their history and the old buildings. It is very noticeable in the shops, cafes, and restaurants in the places we were that a lot of thought has gone into the design and decor.

The place is not dotted with boarded up buildings,fast food shops, second hand shops and bookies,as in my own to town. The place is classy. Most shops were closed from 1 to 4 during the day and open a bit later in the evenings. It’s a big difference to here,and one I could get used to. History is everywhere and Florence in Particular is a special place.

The food is the best. I love ๐Ÿ• and here is the home of it. I tried as many types as I could,but Florence definitely was the best. The types of pasta dishes were endless and I got through my share of it. Tiramisu us gorgeous ๐Ÿ˜‹ there’s different types of it and it’s very different to what I’ve had here. The gelato is the other with a well deserved reputation, it’s gorgeous. With anything if course it takes time to find your favourites in food. I need to go back to work on this further ๐Ÿ˜‹ until then it’s back to bread and beans I think for me ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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