Post PC Trip: Part V

The final leg of my six week Eurotrip took me all the way back to Albania. Accompanied by my excited and perfectly willing mom and step-dad. With only four days to show them the country I lived in for two years, I had a bit of trouble deciding which cities to visit. We eventually settled on a visit to my host family, followed by three days around my site of Permet.

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After a month and a half of not speaking Albanian, I was nervous to arrive at my host family. I knew a full afternoon of translating would be in store and was not sure I remembered much, if any, Albanian. As we drove along, it was interesting to see what my parents remarked upon about the countryside. They immediately noticed the garbage scattered everywhere and that continued to be a topic of discussion throughout our trip. Both were surprised at the beauty of Albania. Much of it is untouched, eliciting a natural beauty you cannot see in many other parts of the world. As we pulled up to my host families door, my stomach was full of butterflies. It felt strangely familiar to my first day of being dumped on their doorstep, with three bags in tow and literally five Albanian words in my vocabulary. (Which I tended to mix up and said goodbye instead of thank you more than once.) My language skills had immensely improved since then but the thought of translating for both of my parents still made me nervous.


Over the next four hours, I lost count of the hugs and kisses I received from my grandpa, grandma and host sisters. They were so incredibly happy that I silently scolded myself for even questioning whether we had time to see them. They walked us around their property beforehand and proudly showed off their crops, gardens and chickens.

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They didn’t disappoint with a true Albanian feast for lunch. We ate and ate and ate, finally walking away from the table with true food babies bulging in our stomachs.

I still talk mostly with my hands.

I still talk mostly with my hands.

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My grandparents both teared up throughout our visit. They are such wonderful people and I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to forge such a strong bond with them. Regardless of the immense language barrier.

My host family and I.

My host family and I.

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In order to see more of Albania, we decided to rent a car. The public transportation system is more than lacking and my mom would have had a heart attack experiencing how I got around the last two years. I am not sure who was more nervous between my step dad and I. He was the one that had to drive but I was in charge of navigating and we all know how good my sense of direction is…


True to style, we got extremely lost when I tried to take a shortcut. What started as a nice paved road ended up being a washed out gravel path that winded up, down and around the mountain. Once the sheep herd traffic jams were added to the equation, my short cut easily added on a few extra hours.

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We were more than happy to return to the highway when it finally came into view. However, we soon realized it may not have been any better. The road conditions in Albania are more than lacking in some areas, but that isn’t the scariest part. A lot of the drivers are lunatics with death wishes. This wasn’t a revelation to me. I knew the driving was bad but I usually hopped into a furgon, sat in the back and stared at my ipod. It was best to just put my life in the hands of the driver and hope, pray and cross my fingers that I would arrive at my destination safely. This trip was different. I was sitting in the front seat, helping Rodger navigate and staring straight into the cars who wanted to play chicken on the side of a mountain road. I quickly began the countdown to when we would return the rental car in three days.

We made it to Permet!

We made it to Permet!

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Our time in Permet, the city I had begun to call home, flew by. We spent two days walking around and saying goodbye to my favorite people. Most of which were the neighborhood kids I had played with the last few years. The language barrier was always present during my time in Albania, but with kids it was different. They don’t care if you make mistakes or explain yourself with Charades. They only wanted to play games and ask questions about life in America. All while trying to sneak more chocolate out of my purse. A handful of them always greeted me with the cutest and most genuine smile and hug. I never tired of walking down the street and seeing them run towards me enthusiastically screaming “Amber, Amber, Amber!!”

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The other side of my family in Permet consisted of my coworker and her husband. Gjergji was a blessing in so many ways during my time as a PCV. He helped me fix things in my apartment, jump through hurdles at work, and was excellent practice for improving my Shqip. He was the Albanian whom I spent the most time with and therefor our communication was actually decent. He also happened to be an excellent cook and served the best food in Permet. I took my parents to his cafe for lunch both days and they were in heaven.

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The final round of goodbyes took place in Kelcyre, my second home this last year. Will and Monika made such a difference during the last half of my service and it was wonderful to see them again. The thought of saying farewell to them was definitely the hardest part about leaving Albania. But with friends like that it is never goodbye; only see you later.



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Twenty seven months of PC service and more than six weeks of backpacking had brought me full circle. Ending my trip where it had all started was the perfect way to say goodbye to my friends, Albanian family and the country I had grown to love. It gave me the unique opportunity to see how I had changed and matured. But more importantly, I was able to see the positive impact I had on this small community halfway across the world. And that my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Goodbye Permet

Goodbye Permet

Heading to America!

Heading to America!


Post PC Trip: Part IV

The last part of my trip took place in Italy and Sicily. After almost a year of not seeing family, I was elated to be meeting my mom and step-dad in Venice. To ensure they didn’t follow my example and wander around aimlessly, I met them at the airport.  It was a wonderful feeling to see them walk out of the luggage area. A bear hug was long overdue and I am so happy I won’t have to wait another year for the next one.


This was my second time in Venice and I knew the general layout of the city. At least I thought I did. However, with the endless canals, alleyways and constantly changing street names it is near impossible to not get lost. We took advantage of this and slowly made our way through the heart of the tourist areas. Over the past two years, I have become used to the different European idiosyncrasies that are part of traveling abroad. Most of which were new to my parents. Sometimes I feel as though I don’t remember what life in America is like. Nevertheless, I am more than ready to be thrown in the deep end and readjust!

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When I was traveling alone, I spent a lot of time questioning whether I was on the correct street, bus, boat or train. Luckily, I allowed enough wiggle room that being lost could be considered part of the fun. This was a different story when my parents joined me. I didn’t want to be the one leading anyone else astray. Fortunately, we traveled from Venice down to Rome without a problem. After a quick evening spent in Rome, we continued on down to Sorrento.


Vatican city

Vatican city


A trip through southern Italy isn’t complete until you see Pompeii. This was my second time walking through the ruins but the vastness of it was still impressive. Eleven thousand Roman inhabitants occupied the metropolis in 80 BC. They had exercise yards, steam rooms, a brothel, fast food counters, courtyards and palaces. The ingenuity needed to create such an impressive city is quite amazing at that day and age.


The brothel.


Just like ordering on a menu. So strange.

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From Sorrento, we visited the Isle of Capri which was followed by a drive down the Amalfi Coast. This infamous road is home to gorgeous views of the sea. Most of which are best viewed from a Cliffside road filled with hairpin turns. If the views don’t take your breath away, the driving will.

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One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to a farm on the outskirts of Sorrento. It was run by an Italian family that produced their own olive oil, mozzarella, jams, Limoncello and grew a variety of fruits and vegetables. We learned how to make pizza, olive oil and the most DELICIOUS mozzarella cheese. Followed by a wonderful meal of traditional antipasta, pizza and of course, wine. I would have been happy with a bowl full of fresh mozzarella cheese but that wasn’t on the menu.

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We took a car ferry over to the island of Sicily. Although it is considered a part of Italy, it feels quite different. I was surprised at how run down parts of it were. However, the stunning blue water is hard to look away from. In a weird way, it slowly prepared my parents for Albania. We only visited the touristy parts of the country, but we did see a lot of hardship as we drove around.

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One of my favorite things we did was a boat tour around the island of Capri. It was already chock full of tourists and I could see why as we wandered around. They had everything from high end shopping, to scuba diving to snorkeling to a smattering of restaurants on each corner.

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My favorite meal of the entire trip was a seafood feast. It started with a variety of fish antipasta dishes. Followed by pasta. Followed by grilled fish. Followed by an iced lemon granita. All accompanied by endless wine.

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It’s no surprise that another one of my favorite days involved the traditional food market on the coast of Italy. The beautiful colors of the fruits and vegetables were dotted with trays of delicious looking fish. Some of them looked as though they weighed more than I did. It was fun to walk around and think about shopping there daily and all of the amazing meals that you could make.

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As vacations always do, our time in Italy went too fast. However, the adventure isn’t over. It was finally time to bring my mom and Rodger to Albania and show them where I have been living for the past two years!

Post PC Trip: Part III

Following the marathon, I headed to Maribor, the second biggest city in Slovenia. Actually, if I am being honest, I hobbled there. Avoiding stairs at all cost for the next few days, my legs slowly began to feel normal again. Maribor is home to one of the biggest shopping malls in Slovenia and so I spent an afternoon checking out the stores. If you know me, it’s no surprise that I spent a majority of my time walking around the HUGE grocery store that was attached to one end. By far the biggest supermarket I have been in since leaving America, I sauntered around and stared at the separate counters for cheese, meats, bread, sandwiches, coffee, desserts and other delicacies. As I headed toward the exit, feeling as though I was officially in civilization again, I almost took a picture of an escalator. I stopped myself because I realized that would be a very strange thing to do. Right? My scale of normalcy is so skewed, I am not even sure it’s working anymore.


Other than nice stores, clean buses, bathrooms that don’t make you cringe, numerous garbage cans and no water schedule, the biggest shock I have experienced is crosswalks. For the past two years of my life, I have become adjusted to cars having the right of way. As a pedestrian you absolutely did not step in front of a moving vehicle to cross the street. You would get run over. As I made my way through Slovenia, I began noticing the copious amount of crosswalks. They were everywhere and if I was waiting to cross the road, a car would stop for me and wait. What an amazing concept! I have to admit, I still do not trust drivers, and I continue to stand there until the car has come to a complete stop. Resulting in the occupants staring at me like I am an idiot. Bear with me American drivers, it’s a bit of an adjustment!

A few days later, I headed to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Known as the next next Prague (According to Rick Steves anyway), it is a small and picturesque city. Ideal for walking around, it contains numerous cafes and restaurants situated along the river. A castle overlooks the buildings that belong to the 270,000 residents. I spent the rest of the week walking around, learning about Slovenian history and meeting people at my hostel. One evening I sat amongst eight other backpackers who were also traveling alone. Originating from America, Canada, Germany, Croatia, Korea, Australia and a few places in between, our backgrounds and professions were just as varied. As local wine was passed around, we shared trip plans and traded travel stories. A passion for traveling seems to provide a cohesiveness that offers an instant sense of comfort amongst strangers.

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I am constantly searching for my next adrenaline adventure so you can imagine how excited I was to head to mountains of Slovenia. As their only national park, Triglav is home to an abundance of adrenaline based tour companies. Within one day you can travel to the highest pass of the Julian Alps, trudge through snow, continue through the park and by the afternoon, be swimming on the banks of the Soca River. That is exactly what I planned to do during the four days I spent there. Unfortunately, my time in the park can be summed up with one picture…

I did take advantage of the bad weather for a day and a half where I curled up indoors, hogging the Wi-Fi and laundry machines. At that point I reached my limit of ignoring the outdoors and set out to explore. I wasn’t going to let a little rain, or a lot in this case, stop me from hiking the beautiful untouched countryside of Bled.

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Luckily, the last day I spent in Slovenia cleared up enough to join a group of other tourists for a full day of sightseeing in the park. We drove on some very windy roads, which provided us the most beautiful views of the mountains. For lunch, I was able to try a local specialty of river trout. Which provided my native Slovenian guide entertainment as he watched me try to pick through the bones, obviously having no idea what I was doing. Eventually we made our way to the riverside so we could all go whitewater rafting. They grade rivers on a scale from 1-5, with five being the most difficult. The river we were on was a level 3, which was perfect since most of us were first-timers. I had an amazing time and cannot wait to go again!

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Slovenia is known as a country that loves sports and the outdoors. I was constantly reminded of that as I made my way from one end of the country to the other. In the Triglav National park, there is a ski slope that sits on the southeastern border. It allows you to ride the lift up, ski down the opposite side into Italy and return for a cup of coffee in Slovenia. All while soaking up the awe inspiring Julian Alps. The very idea of that perfect day will undoubtedly be calling my name to return in the future.


Post PC Trip: Part II: aka Marathon Chaos

At the end of last year, I made the decision to run a marathon in the spring of 2015. I knew I would be traveling somewhere in the Balkans area, so with that vague idea in mind, I set out to find a race that fit my timeline. I stumbled upon the international marathon in Radenci, Slovenia. Radenci is a small town of 2,000 people, located 3 miles from the Austrian border. Which I now know, looks about as similar to my small hometown of Lisbon, North Dakota as one could get.


Once I had my race picked out, I made a four month training schedule, hung it on my fridge and hoped for the best. The farthest I had run thus far in my life was a half marathon. I had no idea how my body would hold up once I crossed into the 14…15…and 20ish (gulp) mile range. For a majority of my training, I was also studying to take the GRE test in order to return to Graduate School. I like to think this worked out in my favor. In order to maintain my sanity after studying math, I NEEDED a three hour run.

Four months later, I had taken the GRE, finished up my Peace Corps service, completed 62 training runs and was finally on my way to Slovenia! When I signed up for a marathon off the beaten track, I failed to think about how I would get myself to the starting line. Eventually, I made it, but the few days leading up to the marathon were filled with frustration, confusion and a few small anxiety attacks. The lack of English being spoken and written was nothing new, but this time I did not know a word of the local language. So, when I say I was wandering around with a confused look on my face until I strode up to the starting line, that is not an exaggeration.

Found my bib number and running chip!

Found my bib number and running chip!

Here we go!

Here we go!

My goal for the race was to run it in under 4 1/2 hours…oh, and not keel over at the finish line. As the minutes ticked down until the official start, announcements were being made in Slovenian. I tried asking a few people around me what was being said but they didnt speak English. What on earth had I gotten myself into?!

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The full marathon consisted of two half marathon loops. The course was laid out through very small towns and mainly countryside. Throughout the first loop, there were people cheering and holding signs, However, after that, the crowd dwindled and it felt like I was back in Albania, running by myself. Minus the homeless dogs.


I am happy to announce that I felt pretty good throughout the race. All of the early morning workouts for the past four months had been well worth it. At a few points, I did have to utter my race mantra under my breath. 26.2 miles is just a really long way. Plus, who doesnt want Ellens voice popping in their head every now and then.

My race mantra.

My race mantra.

Four hours, twenty eight minutes and fifty six seconds later I crossed the finish line!! Not by much, but I made it under my goal time and broke a few other of my personal records as well!

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My medal!

My medal!


With the marathon behind me, I can now fully appreciate being on vacation and enjoy my time in Europe. And of course, I didnt wait long to start celebrating!

Best way to celebrate!

Best way to celebrate!

Post PC Trip: Part I 

My post Peace Corps trip had finally arrived. It all became a reality when I crossed the border into Montenegro. The taxi driver shot me a sideways look and immediately told me to put my seat belt on. They actually hand out tickets here, he remarked, followed by a hearty chuckle. I had to shake my head a bit as I stared at the lack of garbage on the ground and the perfectly paved roadway that stretched before me. Good riddance Albania!
My first stop was Kotor, Montenegro. It is a beautiful little city, located on a bay directly off the Adriatic. In the midst of my tapering weeks of marathon training, I arrived at the hostel and set out for one of my last longer runs. Having a set running schedule for traveling can get a little annoying. However, I quickly realized it is the best way to see a new city and get my bearings. Plus, I can think of a lot worse views to run to than this…
The most scenic thing to do in Kotor, is climb to the top of the nearby hill and stand at the fortress overlooking the whole city. It felt like a thousand steps were involved and unbeknownst to me, it was setting the tone for the rest of my trip. Everywhere I would be visiting, contained “Old Towns” which I now translate to cobblestoned streets with a copious amount of steps. Don’t get me wrong, all of these places are beautiful, but I became quite happy I had spent the last four months marathon training. It came in handy for times other than just race day.
Overlooking the bay of Kotor.

Overlooking the bay of Kotor.

Steps everywhere!!

Steps everywhere!!

Moving on to Croatia the next day, made vacation seem much more realistic. Before leaving America, I had been told the coast of Croatia is one of the most beautiful areas of the world. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint. I spent a total of ten days traveling around to four different cities and four islands.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The old town of Dubrovnik was quite magical. The cobblestone streets intersected with picturesque alleyways. Most of which were lined with flowerpots, clotheslines and cats sleeping in the sun. It was the perfect city to just walk around and explore.

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The island of Hvar was even more beautiful than I had imagined. It was my first time experiencing the island life and it was a nice break from reality and big city life. Plus, I was there at the ideal time. In July and August, the city is flooded with tourists, putting a crazy vibe on an otherwise relaxing place.


Kayaking to the Pakleni islands may have been my favorite part of the trip thus far!

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Island hopping tour

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In the midst of my time in Croata, I planned a day trip to the neighboring country of Bosnia & Herzegovina. A bus brought my tour group to Mostar, the capital of Bosnia. A local guide walked us around to see the highlights of the city. In May, it had already reached 90 degrees. Again, I was thankful to not be there in July or August, when temperatures climb to 110 degrees and higher. No thank you!

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The last coastal city I visited was Zadar. They have a beautiful old town, along with numerous parks dotting the town. It is also home to the worlds first pipe organ thats played by the sea.  Thirty five stone steps end in whistles. When the sea pushes air through- depending on the size of the wave- different chords are played. It was beautiful to listen to and also was the perfect place to watch the world renowned sunsets.

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Before leaving Croatia, I made a quick stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park.It is one of the oldest national parks in Southeast Europe and the largest park in Croatia and quite famous for its sixteen lakes arranged in cascades.


I met some really great fellow Americans on the trip. It made wandering through the park a lot more fun!


Of course, more steps…

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Waiting at a bus stop in the woods. On to the  capital!

Waiting at a bus stop in the woods. On to the capital!

My last stop in Croatia was the capital city of Zagreb. I have always been partial to the smaller towns and national parks. Which usually means capital cities are not my favorite. However, it was a good resting point before moving on to Slovenia.

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Two and a half weeks into my trip and the biggest thing I noticed was my lousy sense of direction. The amount of time I spend walking around lost in new cities borders on the side of ridiculous. But, I always find my way to where I am going. Plus, some might say that wandering aimlessly is part of the fun!


Goodbye Peace Corps

The last month of service turned out to be some of the busiest weeks of the last two years. No stranger to moving, I tried to allow myself plenty of time to pack up all of my belongings. As always, there is more to do than first thought and I found myself scrambling the last couple of days to finish up. All of that chaos instantly vanished from my mind as I handed over the key to my landlord for the final time. I literally wanted to hop and skip down the street as I walked away. Free at last!

Just me and my backpack

Just me and my backpack

First and last week of my Peace Corps Service

First and last week of my Peace Corps Service.

My post PC trip turned into a six week long trip through the Balkans and Italy. During that time I will travel to four new countries and run my first marathon. After which, I will meet my mom and stepdad in Venice. After stuffing ourselves with homemade pasta and pizza, we will return to Albania so they can see where I lived for two years. This made some goodbyes with Albanians better and just provided confusion during others. My favorite person in town, Gergi, held me hostage at his cafe for a few hours the night before I left. He cried twice. Held my hand most of the time and told me exactly what he thought of me over the last few years. Luckily these were all good things. He is someone I will actually miss and I am happy I will be able to see him again before returning home.

Writing down my mailing address.

Writing down my mailing address.

My group held one last going away party in the capital. A large majority of the volunteers living in Albania came out and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to everyone. I found parts of it sad, but mostly just exciting. The people that I became close with and want to see again, I will. In America. And if we enjoyed hanging out in the world that is Albania, I cant help but think of how amazing it will be in the land of the free!


My initial training group.

My initial training group.


As with all government organizations, there is a lot of paperwork to close peace corps service. That is mainly what my last few days in country consisted of. Signatures, interviews and wrapping up two years of my life. Crossing that final t, felt a bit like the ending of an era. Dotting that last i, officially moved me into the full time tourist category. I am now 26, jobless, homeless and happier than I have ever been.

Goodbye Peace Corps

Goodbye Peace Corps

Packing Up the Old

Less than ten days until I am no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer. These past few weeks have been filled with a daily dose of shock and slight bewilderment. As my last week creeps closer, the fact that I am at this stage in my service still hasn’t quite set in. After all, the new group is only getting their site announcements this week. Was it really two years ago that I was sitting in their exact spot?! Even when I pinch myself, it doesn’t quite set in. Aside from the lapses of reality, I have spent a lot of time packing. Saying goodbyes. Packing. Planning my post PC trip. Packing. Procrastinating. Packing.

I came with two suitcases. I am going home with three. And I am still struggling. Where on earth did all of the stuff scattered around my apartment come from? Well, here is a little secret; Peace Corps does weird things to a person. Physically and mentally. I have picked up odd behaviors and tendencies I never came close to in the states. Which is why I could now star on Hoarders: Peace Corps Edition. All of those great thrift store finds, random Albanian gifts and care package goodies have remained virtually untouched and unmoved over the last few years. Before any judgement begins, let me explain the PCV mentality. I will blame most of this on the care packages that the awesome few of you have sent. These items are cherished. I repeat, they are CHERISHED. Reserved for only the most special occasions because we have absolutely no idea when we will get more. We will make Sriracha last for a year. Or store peanut butter in the top cupboard to avoid daily spoonfuls. Or hide Franks hot sauce from other volunteers. And Oreos, okay…those never last longer than a few days. I have felt a tad ridiculous as I stared at all of the unopened and unused items I requested from America. Let’s hope I can pack up the rest of my apartment and leave any hoarding dispositions behind.

Some of the young neighborhood kids benefited from my apartment clean up. I packaged up old notebooks, markers and decks of cards for them. The excitement that lit up their faces as I handed over these small items was adorable.

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We have to wait HOW LONG for cookies?!


I recently stumbled across an article about the philosopher, Erich Fromm. He believed that human beings had two basic orientations; having and being. A person with the having orientation seeks to acquire and posses things. Which he forecast would only lead to dissatisfaction and emptiness. A person with the being orientation focuses on the experience. They derive meaning from engaging and sharing with people. Which he thought would lead to a life of fulfillment and happiness.

Over the last two years, I have collected post cards from each city I have visited. My travels have taken me all over Europe and as I scanned through the pile, memories surfaced. Inside jokes, transportation disasters, lessons learned and favorite moments came tumbling forward. All of which, produced a heartfelt smile and an occasional chuckle. Not once did this happen as I was shoving my clothes and trinkets into my suitcases. I quickly realized my most prized possessions from the last 27 months have nothing to do with material items. Maybe Fromm was on to something after all.


Easter Celebration

Easter celebrations vary throughout Albania. In my region, people dye eggs red, gather with their families and of course, feast on different types of meat. Lamb, goat, chicken and beef make appearances at most celebrations. Whether it is one or all of the above, you know its a special occasion when you start to get the “meat sweats.” Pair that with a few shots of raki and you have yourself a regular ole’ party.

My sitemates and I were invited to a picnic celebration in the mountains of Kelcyre. One of the families they know really well, have land about thirty minutes from the city. They raise goats and have several other animals that live on their property.

Hike up to the celebration!

Hike up to the celebration!


View of their land and the spot for our picnic.

View of their land and the spot for our picnic.

We spent the next three hours sipping wine, eating and chatting with this wonderful family. It felt great to have been invited to their celebration. Albanian hospitality has never ceased to amaze me over these last two years.

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Don't give the sixteen year old boy the cookies. He literally ate 10 cookies in what seemed like 5 minutes. Boys and their metabolism.

Don’t give the sixteen year old boy the cookies. He literally ate 10 cookies in what seemed like 5 minutes. Boys and their metabolism.

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Holiday celebrations here seem to leave me with a bittersweet feeling. Regardless of how close I have grown with the people of my town or how integrated I feel, I will forever be an outsider looking in. There is always going to be the cultural and language barrier which prevents a true sense of belonging. Which tends to only make me miss my family and home a little more that day. But that is okay. I feel fortunate to have crept this close to that dividing line, standing in the middle of our two very different worlds.


Trainees Visit

One of the highlights during a PCV’s ten weeks of preservice training is the volunteer visit. This usually falls during the second or third week of the trainees being in country and provides them some freedom. Each trainee travels to visit a current volunteer to gain insight on what life is like after swearing in as a volunteer. It’s also a great reminder that there is more to service than host families, language classes and constant confusion. (The confusion tends to linger but I like to think it becomes less and less.)

We were lucky enough to have five new volunteers visiting my area,combined with five current volunteers. One of my favorite things about Peace Corps is that it provides you with an opportunity to meet Americans from all over the country with extremely different backgrounds. After only living in Albania for three weeks, the trainees had plenty of questions.

“Do you think you’ve changed?”

“What is the hardest part about Albania?”

“Have you dated here?”

“What is winter REALLY like?”

Only in Albania can you bring your own coffee to a cafe.

Only in Albania can you bring your own coffee to a cafe.

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One of the trainees buying cheese at the market! The lady just looked at her and told him to learn shqip haha.

One of the trainees buying cheese at the market! The lady just looked at her and told him to learn shqip haha.


Fresh pasta!

Fresh pasta!

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No electricity. No problem!

No electricity. No problem!




Circle dancing with one of the youth clubs.

Circle dancing with one of the youth clubs.


As I sat on the leaving side of the equation, it was strange to be looking back at where I had started from. And a great reminder at how far I had come. With only three weeks left in country, I have found myself mulling over the failures and successes of the last two years. Whether one outweighs the other is besides the point. I gave it my best shot and that’s all that really matters.

Birthday Fun

Two of my favorite volunteers celebrated their birthdays over the last few weeks. We celebrated with homemade food, little presents and of course, chocolate cake!

First up was Monika, my almost site mate and a truly amazing person.


Birthday presents!

Birthday presents!

Pre dinner hike

Pre dinner hike

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Followed by Emilie, my travel buddy over the last few years. Oh, and I like to tell everyone, she got into Yale. Yeah, she’s smart. And pretty awesome as well.



She also likes to hide in corners haha.

She also likes to hide in corners haha.

Birthday celebrations have helped add some excitement to the rainy days of spring. But with the last party over and cleaned up, I guess I will have to stop procrastinating. Ready or not, it is officially time to start packing, preparing for my post PC Balkan trip and thinking about life as someone other than a volunteer.