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Teacher Feature – Valentina Castellani

Teacher Feature – Valentina Castellani

Teacher Feature – Valentina Castellani

Meet Valentina, 31.

Val has been a teacher at IH Belfast for the last 5 years. She is DELTA qualified and teaches our CELTA classes, as well as our English courses. During the summer Val manages and coordinates our Queens Junior Summer School and then has a holiday!

When were you happiest?

Hiking somewhere in the mountains. Silence, fresh air, wonderful views.

Where would you most like to be right now?

The Alps.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Believe it or not, teacher. And pop star- obviously at the same time, a teacher pop-star.

What is your favourite lesson to teach?

I have two favourites- “Desert Survival” and Language and Negotiation & “10 things to do before you die” and present perfect.

What is the best thing about being a teacher?

You learn something new every day, your students teach you so much every day.

Can you remember your worst moment in the classroom?

It always involves a joke I make that noone understands and I end up laughing alone, with a bunch of confused stares all around me.

What possession you could not do without in the classroom?

My BIC Markers (but NO green markers, HATE green markers) & Bluetak.

What is your earliest memory?

I think I was about three and I was obsessed with Disney’s Alice in Wonderland- in spring I would sit on the grass, surrounded by daisies and totally pretend I was Alice in Wonderland.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What was your most embarrassing moment?

Showing off while riding a bike when I was 5 and falling miserably to the ground with about 10 other children watching (and laughing their socks off).

What is your favourite smell?

Freshly cut grass.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Peanut butter and nutella sandwich (which totally sounds horrible- but try it).

What do you owe your parents?

The love for travelling and learning about new cultures.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

‘Actually’ and ‘Like’.

When did you last cry, and why?

I watched Dumbo last Sunday and cried like a baby.

What is your greatest fear?

Electric heaters. I always think I will forget one on and burn the building down. [Note from the editor: Val has been known to take a picture of the heater before leaving work in the evening, so that when she wakes up in a panic in the middle of the night, she can look at the picture to reassure herself that she did in fact turn off the heater!]

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Jennifer Aniston (I may or may have not had a Rachel haircut back in the day).

Which book changed your life?

The Little Prince

Which living person do you most despise, and why?

Whoever invented skinny jeans. Why would you make jeans even more uncomfortable than they already are?

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

The Roaring 20’s.

What keeps you awake at night?

The neighbour’s car alarm.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

‘Another one bites the dust’ – Queen.

How would you like to be remembered?

I hope I made a difference in someone’s life and people remember me with a smile on my face, doing what I love.

Tell us a secret .

I am not a big fan of pasta. [Note from the editor: Just to remind you that Val is Italian..?!]

What is top of your bucket list?

A long holiday in South America, exploring each and every country.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

Nothing, I believe things happen for a reason.

How do you relax?

With a book and some good music.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

Coffee always improves life. More coffee?

Is it better to give or to receive?


Why Belfast now?

Because there is so much going on, there is always something new to explore. And people are just the best. And I love the accent here!

Tell us something your mum doesn’t know about you?

Impossible, my mum always finds out stuff – she has super powers!

What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made in Belfast?

So many! I am particularly fond of Culture Night, it is a wonderful day, with so many events happening, you always find out something new about Belfast! Look it up, it is awesome!

Which building would you most like to be locked in overnight?

In Belfast, the Ulster Museum. In general- FAO Shwarz, a toy store in NYC (the one that inspired Home Alone).

Celebrity crush?

Bryan Adams. Always and forever.

Describe your perfect day in the city?

Coffee&Breakfast at Soulfood Cafe’ on the Ormeau Road, a walk around Botanic Gardens (with ice cream stop); browsing (and buying) books at waterstones on Fountain Street. A pint at the Duke of York in the Cathedral Quarter.

What movie most closely resembles your life story and why?

Not a movie, but a song, does that work too? It’s ‘Breakaway’ by Kelly Clarkson.

Sum up Belfast in three words?

Cultural, musical, (good) craic.

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