Eli:

Well, I’ve just arrived at my first day of school. I’m very sweaty because I’ve just been on a 45 minute bus ride with no A/C. Me and Nell raced down to the soccer field where our teachers are waiting. But we were so late that our teachers had already gone in. So me and Nell scampered up to our classrooms. Our teachers were just finishing up some announcements. There were 19 kids who were there – 22 are supposed to be in the class. Our teacher is a lot like Ms. Feingold (my teacher from 3rd grade in Madison).

Now we’re walking down to our first art class. My teacher just starts talking, like most teachers do on the first day. And eventually she gives us a piece of paper so we just draw on it until it’s time to go. Now we have our snack break – each kid brings their own snack from home. I walk over to the soccer field and we start playing. Earlier, another kid in my class warned me that people have come off the field with scratches and broken legs and broken fingers and stuff like that. First of all, it’s sort of hard to play with these kids, since they only pass to their friends and they always head it or put their foot behind them to kick it over their head, or something crazy that we wouldn’t normally do. So that’s that.

Now we’re going back inside. Our teacher said that we as a group get to decide what our class rules are. And our class together probably came up with 11. So that took up about an hour and a half. Now it’s time for lunch. I was pretty excited, since I thought the lunch here would be amazing. But… it was horrible. Really. I coughed down the pasta and everybody hated it, even though they said it was better than last year. And nobody would eat their salad. And the cheese was gross.

So now we get to go outside again. I tried to play soccer again. This time the friends were split up onto different teams. And so this game was actually pretty good! After lunch, we had an hour of music. It was just regular music – you all know how that is. Now we’re going back to our class for Unit. But since it’s the first day of school, we didn’t start our unit yet. We start that tomorrow. They tell us that every two kids are assigned one of the rules we made up and we have to write it and draw a picture that goes with it. Me and another kid got: “No aggressive behavior. “ We drew a picture of two people fist-fighting with an X around it.

Oh great. Now I have to look forward to another 45 minute long stinking hot bus ride. Oy vey.

Overall, the school’s pretty good! And there are flags around all the floors from probably every country you could think of. And those flags represent every country that the students at the school come from.

Nell:

The first day started out very slowly. Our bus was late. So when we went to where we’re supposed to meet our teachers (the soccer field) our teacher wasn’t there. So we had to go right to our classroom. Then my teacher told us all the rules. They were pretty much like the Franklin Peacemaker rules.

I had Italian class. You only speak in Italian. I can’t really understand it. But it was fun anyway.

I had lunch, which is in a really nice cafeteria. If you just say “Io vegetariana”, which means “I’m a vegetarian”, they just add extra veggies or take off the things that have meat in them.

I met someone named Darcy who’s also new; we hang out because everyone else in our class has buddies.

I love my new teacher. Her name is Ms. Cristina. My teacher never yells. She raises her voice but she doesn’t yell.

Then we went back on the school bus. It was a good day. I like Ambrit school.

Seth:

Taking the kids to their bus stop this morning was funny. We figured it would be sort of like home—we’d walk to the general area and see parents and kids waiting for a bus. But we hadn’t thought through that we are in the middle of a big city and all sorts of people were waiting for many different busses all over the place. We were not sure where to go.  Then we saw two girls with backpacks waiting at a corner. But we were all so anxious that each of us kept insisting that someone else should be the one to go talk to the girls. Everyone made me do it. They were waiting for our bus! It turned out to be a little white mini-van with nice seats. The bus arrived really late, but the driver—who was nicely dressed and wearing a tie– got out at each stop and shook each parent’s hand. He was very friendly and charming. I was so anxious, hoping that Eli and Nell would have a good first day.

I hurried off to my own first day of Italian class. The classroom building is a gorgeous palazzo with winding marble staircases and a lovely internal courtyard—but no air conditioning! Inspired by the good attitude that Nell and Eli had about school today (and motivated by the obnoxious people in front of me who were registering for the Intro Italian class), I decided to throw myself into the intermediate level class. Of course Italians are not fans of credit (most small restaurants only take cash and people here don’t buy a house until they can pay in cash), so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I had to pay my tuition in cash. I left the line in search of an ATM.

I’m in for a wild ride. I understood almost nothing the teacher said—I couldn’t even segment when one word ended and another began. Every now and then I thought I heard words like “okay” or “Wednesday” or “past tense.” But I basically followed the advice that my friend Inge-Marie gave her children, who started in French school today: I just smiled and nodded my head a lot. It will be interesting to see where I am at the end of the month. At the end of the day, we met the children at their bus stop and went for double scoops of gelato to celebrate. I was relieved that the kids had met other children they liked, enjoyed the day, and liked their teachers. So far, so good. . . .

Jenny:

Instead of going to school like the rest of the family, I fulfilled a different kind of goal about living in Rome. After the kids hopped onto the bus, we walked a block and a half to a greenmarket – 4 produce stalls, one fresh fish stall, and a pizza/bakery stall. It is across from our favorite gelato place, but because we are usually there at night, the market stalls aren’t usually open. They were certainly bustling at 8 AM! We picked up some gorgeous fresh veggies for dinner and fruit for the household, and then walked another 2 blocks to the cheese and fresh pasta store to take care of the rest of our dinner needs. Then we came home and had espresso. After doing some work, I took a walk across the city to my favorite bakery to buy bread for the house. Just the kind of morning I love! Being able to do our grocery shopping on foot makes me truly happy. Not that I don’t love having Trader Joe’s around the corner in Madison, but… And we even look like locals with our grocery trolley!

Of course, the best part of the day was meeting the kids at the bus stop after school and seeing how happy they were!

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