Erasmus + | Dear diary

Dear diary,

as the plane touches down in Bristol, I have butterflies in my stomach.  My dream

to visit England has finally been realized and I am confident that it will supersede my


My first impression of Bristol is one of a vibrant, bustling city, in which, despite its

endless lines of traffic, there lies a surprising sense of order and calm. The people

walk around unruffled and unperturbed by the cold, grey and rainy English weather;

umbrellas and jackets are optional as well as hat and scarves. I suddenly feel like I

stand out all bundled up in my heavy jacket and rain gear. But in Bristol, you can be

your own person, you can have your own unique sense of style and no one will

judge you.  It’s a very liberating feeling! I am fascinated by the city’s quaint shops, its

celebrated street art and its breathtaking architecture.

I learn that Bristol is set on the Avon River, that it is home to one of England’s oldest

Ports and that it was John Cabot’s port of departure in his voyage to North America

back in 1497.  But more than anything, I am overwhelmed by the respect and con-

sideration that the people of Bristol have for each other- their endless queues in

front of bus stops, supermarkets and theatres, their polite thank-yous, sorries, and

don’t mention its, the safety distances that they keep between cars…!  I am truly

impressed- this is a city I could adopt and I now understand why it was proclamed

the City of Kindness.

Of course, I also very much enjoyed my visit to the two schools in Bristol: in

particular to St. Joseph’s because I work with primary school children.


At St. Joseph’s, I was struck by the colourful classrooms, the cute pupils dressed in

their smart school uniforms and the kind-hearted staff who welcomed the Italian

teachers with open arms.  The children seemed happy and entirely at ease in their

school environment. They were curious to know why there were “strangers”

invading their space but equally hospitable and always courteous.

I also got the impression that Christian values were very important at this school

and this was something I could appreciate coming from a Salesian school.  In fact,

I was also able to attend a school assembly where the guest speaker was a  priest

who talked about his missionary work in impoverished countries.

I found the division of their school day to be noteworthy, something which allowed

students some breathing room between subjects.  In general, there seemed to be

less attention to “form” at this English school-  as I observed their notebooks

I noticed that they did not have the maniacal order of the Italian ones, which

contrasted to this image of proper English students wearing their smart little uni-

forms.  I noted that they had less homework and that errors are played down

and that despite the large classroom sizes (about 30 students per class) they are

able to do unstructured lessons, pair work and even group work without being

disruptive. Moreover, there is a great attention to the Arts, in particular, to Music

and drama.

In the end, my trip to Bristol was very enlightening. Not only was I taken away

by the school system, the majestic churches and historical buildings but I was

especially impressed by the good manners and general kindness of its citizens.

So cheers Bristol and thank you to the Erasmus Plus project for this wonderful



Maria Milan

(teacher madre lingua Scuola Primaria)



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