Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Found some Students

That's right, its Prof. Kasel now!  Had my first class teaching the students at the business school.  Its a little weird to respond when students say, "excuse me Professor..."  More details to come after my first week with a full schedule is done, but for now I'm going to relax while I can.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Photo of the Week: Jan. 18, 2009

Almost forgot about this weeks photo. Close one, thanks rachy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Photo of the Week: Jan. 11, 2010

Somewhere near our apartment.
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Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Search for More Students

Giver of language, Teacher of tongues, Ambassador of the English language, a EFL teacher.  Sounds like a great job teaching gig, and it pays just as bad as every other "great" teaching job out there. 

Many TEFL teachers will begin their teaching career at a language institution.  If you read my other blog, So You Think You Want to Take a TEFL Course, you'll know that this is not enough to get by on.  The key usually is to get private students.  They are the EFL teacher's "bread and butter."  You get paid better and you deal with one student who usually is motivated and has very specific goals.  All great, but where do you find them?

My initial thought was to try a posting on craigslist.  In the States this is usually a great start, it gets your message out to a wide audience quickly, and its free.  This does not work in Florence.  People just don't use craigslist for things like that here.  There are plenty of postings for rentals (be very cautious of scams), but for other things its just not how its done here.

A suggestion by the school where we took the course was to order business cards.  I personally really enjoyed this.  I like having a business card, I fell more legit now that I have cards to hand out.  The only problem I have with handing them out is that my command of the Italian language is very limited.  I was talking to one guy trying to explain what I do, and he may have gone away with the assumption that I'm a singer in a band (I'm not really sure, so don't ask.)  I still gave him a card, but this form of advertising would be much easier if I spoke more Italian.  Additionally you need to be going places and when you're counting your pennies going out doesn't really fit in.

Another option that I'm going to take on is posting fliers at schools.  Florence has numerous schools.  These institutions apparently have community bulletin boards where a lot of the communication of want ads are posted.  These are supposed to be great resources for lessons and for other things like apartments and such.  We'll see how that one goes.

If any of you teachers, or anyone with experience networking, out there have some other suggestions please comment. 
  • Did a certain strategy work for you or was it a combination of many? 
  • Did any of them fall flat on their face? (craigslist for me)
  • Do you know of other ways to advertise in Florence?
And as always if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Photo of the Week: Jan. 4, 2009

We made a failed attempt to walk to Fiesole yesterday. We were really close, I'm sure we'll find it next time. This was taken while walking back down to Florence.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Where to Eat: Best Coffee in Florence

After Rachael's claim of finding the "best cappuccino in Florence" I did some research to find what other people believed to be the "best" in Florence.  To my surprise and dismay there was very little out there.  How could this be?  No coffee lover's guide to Florence?!  Where are the top 10 cafes in Florence?  The top 5?  If you can find them you are a better explorer of the internet than I, but my internet did not have much for me to go on.

This was a sign that I needed to do something.  I couldn't let this continue any further.  People need to know where they can expect to get a good coffee.  You don't want to be wandering around aimlessly when that caffeine level starts to dip low.  Bad news.

In light of this, and to verify for myself the accuracy of Rachael's "best cappuccino" we set out to try and compare 4 of the better coffee shops we have found thus far.  Its important to note that none of the bars I review below were disappointing, if you're ever in a pinch for some quick caffeine any will more than suffice.

To allow for equal comparison at each bar I had a caffe and a cappuccino.  Here are the results(in no particular order)...

1. The first bar to be tested was Donnini Caffe' Pasticceria.  The caffe I had at Donnini was medium to full bodied.  It had dark roasty flavors that made the espresso quite smooth with a short finish.  The caffe was lighter in crema than I would have liked and the shot could have been pulled for a few seconds longer, which may have created a more lively drink.  Second came the cappuccino.  This was very well made.  The dark flavor of the espresso melded well with the milk.  The barista also added a dash of cocoa to the espresso before pouring the milk foam.  Overall the drink had a nice balance, velvety foam, and was served at very pleasant drinking temperature.

You'll find Donnini on the southwest corner of the Piazza della Repubblica, behind the outdoor seating and awnings.  In addition to having good drinks Donnini's is also said to have the best pastries in Florence.  I have heard many independent verifications of the quality from numerous "experts."  The bar had a very laid back atmosphere that seemed shielded from the hustle of the piazza. 

Caffe - 0,85
Cappuccino - 1,10

2.  Next up is Gilli.  The caffe was bright and lively.  Unexpectedly it still had mellow earthy flavors with a hint of nuttiness.  A slightly complex coffee with a light body.  The cappuccino had balanced flavors, but to me it left something to be desired in how the drink was assembled.  The cappuccino was wetter than I prefer, and although the foam had well formed micro foam it had separated completely from the milk.  This made the drink closer to a short latte than a cappuccino.  It tasted good, just not what I wanted.

This bar is on the opposite corner of Piazza della Repubblica from Donnini.  Like most of the eateries in this piazza they offer indoor/outdoor seating as well as a lunch and dinner menu.  There is a lovely selection of chocolates to be found inside as well!  Gilli tends to be busy, its right on one of the main shopping streets in Florence.

Caffe - 1,00
Cappuccino - 1,30

3. Third on the list was La Loggia.  The caffe was citrusy with a little fruitiness as well.  There were subtle roasty notes.  The caffe had a full body with a smooth finish.  The cappuccino had well balanced flavors, but was still a bit wet.  The foam was very smooth.

I really enjoy coming to this cafe.  Its right in the middle of things on Via del Corso.  It has a nice atmosphere.  I have had the good fortune to stop by on several occasions when they were just bringing out freshly baked bombolini which makes any visit more than worth it. 

Caffe - 1,00
Cappuccion - 1,20

4.  The final cafe in our adventure was Il Bigallo.  The caffe at Il Bigallo had a light body to it.  It was rather bright and had lively citrus flavors.  The cappuccino was perfectly balanced in flavor and the milk to foam ratio.  The foam was lush and smooth.  The coffee flavor was prominent without overwhelming, and was accentuated by the dash of cocoa added.  This is the best cappuccino I have had in this country.  This place was visited on Rachael's recommendation, it did not disappoint.

Il Bigallo is found on a quite corner outside of the touristy section of the city center.  Simply continue following Corso down and it will be on your right hand side.  It smaller than the other bars reviewed, but seems like a place that most locals frequent.  The staff are also very pleasant and talented drink makers.

At this point I was too jittery to remember to take note of the cost (these tastings were done in roughly an hour on an empty stomach.  Whoops.)  On my next visit I'll be sure to find out and post it.

A map of the above bars, along with all the places reviewed in "Where to Eat," can be found by clicking here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Photo of the Week: Dec. 28, 2009

The merry-go-round in Piazza della Repubblica.