It seems to be a rite of passage for many Italian teenagers to go on a school trip to London. At least that’s what it appears like when you live in London and come across groups of noisy Italian schoolkids making their way through the London Underground, together with their equally noisy teacher! Italian friends whom I have spoken to about these trips have told me about the fond memories they have of their first time in London. I’ll have to do a full post on the topic of Italians in London, but I have yet to meet an Italian who regrets coming to live and work in the UK’s capital city.
These school trips are called “vacanze studio”, or “study vacations”, and are often organised by private companies or charities in association with Italian schools. The students stay at youth hostels together with their teachers and supervisors, for a period of 2-4 weeks. For many Italian teenagers, this will be the first time they are away from their families for a prolonged period of time. While they are in London, they take formal lessons at an English language school, as well as see the sights, go on day trips to other towns, and generally soak in the atmosphere of a different country. In principle, this is an educational trip. However, according to a few Italians I have spoken to on this subject, about the only thing that doesn’t happen on these trips is actual studying… 😉
Having seen these groups for so long, I have become instinctively aware of when they are Italians. Over the last few years, a kind of puffy black jacket seems to have been in fashion in Italy. So whenever I see a group of kids where a few of them are wearing these jackets, I almost immediately know they are Italian, even if they aren’t talking (yes, I know how unlikely that is…!).
Here is a typical conversation that is shouted over the other passengers whilst on a tube train approaching a station:
“Ma quando scendiamo?”
“A Marble Arch. Due fermate.”
There will usually be a few kids who will hang around the tube train and try to read the names of the stations on the map in absolutely dire English. 🙂 Most of them tend to be quite well-behaved, though sometimes you will come across groups who are incredibly noisy. I’m sure any Italian adult sitting nearby would feel embarrassed! Only the other day, there was a group singing, and I kid you not, the Inno di Mamelli (the Italian national anthem). Oh dear, oh dear.
Generally, though, it’s always fun to hear some Italian being spoken, especially with accents from all over Italy. Ma forse un po’ di silenzio a volte? 🙂