As soon as I entered the school, I think Suzie at the school reception noticed that I was a bit strange for an Italian. It was about 9.00 in the morning and she said to me, “Oh! You’re early – that’s nice,” and I replied, “Yes, I know. I’m weird for an Italian, because Italians usually arrive late.”
By the way, there was a reason why I was there beforehand: I remembered perfectly the way and the path through the park to reach the school, as it was the second time I had attended the school. My previous experience dates back to 2011. I was just 18 years old.
In the intervening years, I changed a lot. To illustrate this, it is enough to compare the reports I got in 2011 and in 2018. In the former, Susie, a Polish, red-haired teacher, wrote to me, “Giovanni, every time you woke up in my lesson, you proved that you are very talented and clever… which does not change the fact that you were always asleep during the lesson.” In the latter, Stephen wrote, “You made a lot of difference to the class as a result of your efforts.”
Some might say that I have become a man and I’m not a teenager any more, but I would go for another reason (I still get bored and fall asleep in some situations in life). This time, I was there to improve my English as much as possible and to cope with IELTS and GRE exams. I needed them to apply for a PhD in the USA. Actually, I’ve already submitted my application and even though I don’t know what the result is yet, I am already happy with my efforts. I managed to score 6.5 in the IELTS exam: in just over seven weeks, I increased my score a lot, because the first time I did a mock test, I scored 4.5 or less.
For this reason, I have to be thankful to the school, which pushed me toward the best attitudes to achieve that result. So, if I managed to go far, it would be because of a closeness, that of each person I met at the school. I want to talk about them now, not about the places I visited or the facilities or something like that: everyone can easily find them on the web or on some postcards; but nobody can know how many wonderful people work and study in that school, if they have never attended it.
Lewis School Staff
I’ll start with Helen. She is the Director of Studies. I had the pleasure of having her as a teacher for a while. Although she may seem strict when you see her in her office next to the reception facing different kinds of commitments, she is a very nice person and in the classroom you can easily burst out laughing with her.
I’ll move on to another wonderful person: Andrew. He was my teacher on the IELTS course. His class was amazing: he jokes a lot and he manages to keep you awake for the whole lesson. You enjoy yourself and learn a lot at the same time. Thanks to him, I achieved a good score at the exam. In addition, he wrote a letter of recommendation for my application. He is available for everything and in the classroom you feel like you are at home: he sometimes talks about his personal life, rendering the place very open and warm.
“Nobody can know how many wonderful people work and study in that school, if they have never attended it.”
Another who I need to say thanks to is Stephen. Stephen pushed me to acquire the correct behaviour for an IELTS student. “You need to use different kinds of highlighter when you’re studying – it’s not a joke,” he said, and he was completely right. I scored 7.0 in both listening and reading thanks to those apparently strange techniques. What’s more, due to his influence, I became interested in purchasing very sophisticated pens. He loves them and now I love them as well. I’ve just bought one on the internet.
Ryan uses different techniques too. I had him as my teacher in my first week on the General English course. He is a very friendly person and he has become a friend of mine. I have his WhatsApp and sometimes we write to each other. I’m waiting for him in Italy because I am keen to keep in touch with him. We shared a lot of beautiful and entertaining moments together.
I can say the same about Lilli. Even though I only got to know her at the end of my stay, I could clearly see how wonderful she is. Sadly, I’ve never had her as a teacher, but she was my guide for my London trip. The funny thing about this trip is that we wanted to be tourists, but we ended up protesting against Brexit. Lilli is very friendly and trustworthy and she helped me with my statement of purpose for my PhD application. Like me, she loves trekking and, one day, I would like to meet her again and walk with her along beautiful mountain or valley paths.
Charlotte and Alison are very kind teachers. I had them as teachers in IELTS and General English respectively. They are always available to discuss any difficulty and to clarify any point you do not understand. Charlotte helped me with my Writing Sample and I really appreciated it. Alison surprised me as soon as she said to me that she lives on a boat: this confirmed my first impression of her, a very open-minded person who loves freedom.
The last person I want to talk about is Tom: he is the nicest person in the school. He is always willing to joke and to smile and, thanks to him, I became famous. In fact, I found myself on the cover of the school brochure with my favourite t-shirt, “Think outside the box.” He captured a very beautiful moment and we still keep in touch with each other.
I could say more and more things if I wanted to talk about my mates: Neelam, Raiane, Valery, Iman, Mustafa, Honorata, Henney, Olivia, Aki or about my host family, which, for me, is something like a second family, but I decided just to keep them in my heart, like a secret.
Finally, by way of conclusion, I would like to answer a question that Andrew or Stephen asked me one day. One of them asked, “Why do you buy chocolate and share it every day? Is it your birthday every day?”. Obviously, the first and easiest answer is that I love chocolate, but the second and the truest one is something linked with an Emily Dickinson poem.
That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love;
It is enough, the freight should be
Proportioned to the groove.
I really hope to have left in each person I knew something of beauty, in order to let the freight be proportioned to the groove. This is the only truth I know, and, by sharing chocolate every day, I want to share this truth with everyone.
Thanks to everyone. I really miss everything about Lewis School.