The students of my FCE Prep class at fancyshamncy high school Parini have been dropping like flies. Maybe it's the sunshine or the proximity of their spring break, but only about 12 people out of 30 showed up today. And this with the teacher who hired me begging me to teach another course because my feedback is so good.
When I arrived at the school, I noticed two students making out by the motorini, and I also noticed the girl, G, was in my class. I stopped looking and gave them a wide berth, kind of adorable, none of my business, and when I started class I had forgotten.
Anyways, the small number of kids meant that I could be more chatty with them, and after we finished going over the practice exam, we chatted about the novità in our lives. I asked G what was new, and she blushed, smiled, and said, "Nothing." Three other girls burst out laughing.
"Nothing?" I asked. No one gets off with "nothing". "What will you do for vacation?"
"I will...go to the mountains," she replied, setting off another set of snickers. I said it would be good to get some fresh air.
I then asked A what was new in her life, and she said, "I am happy. I am happy for G, because she has finally got a boyfriend!"
G's face turned from a red into a deep crimson, and all the girls, G included, giggled until they were snorting. I said, "Ah, oh, that's why she's now the color of her shirt." I felt a little bit of their excitement and embarrassment and almost turned red myself. I felt the urge to tell her that despite what everyone seems to believe, having a boyfriend isn't really so important, that you can do wonderfully without one, maybe even be more yourself, and make sure you don't let him affect how you feel about yourself or tell you want to do. But I held my tongue and let her be happy. It was time for excitement, not old Smithie lectures.
Relationships are a funny thing here. Scratch that, everywhere. But talking about them seems to be an especially favorite pastime here. Everyone has a great interest in your personal life, and in sharing theirs. I've had a teacher complain to me about her yearly French tryst, who never puts in enough effort. I've overheard teachers discussing the relationships of students (How can S be dating him? He is such a pig! I was very surprised). Once Elena explained to me that she knew a boy was doing better in English because his girlfriend of one year was making him study. Students kiss in the hallways.
Also, I made the (possible) mistake of telling Ms. R that I am involved with someone here, and she immediately assumed that 1) we were engaged, 2) we were living together and 3) that I was going to remain in Italy forever and now she and I can meet for tea every now and then. I replied that I had to leave in June, and she was horrified. "What will happen to your relationship?" she asked. I shrugged hopefully.
It's the brutal truth: the one entity that doesn't care about you and your boyfriend is the Italian immigration police.