Monday, April 29, 2013


Or, We're halfway through PST!

Or, How peaceful is the corps? (As requested by my darling little sister)

Last week we had the opportunity to teach classes in the local school. The first class we did was a hygiene class for kindergartners on germs and sanitation. LOOK HOW EXCITED THEY ARE TO LEARN:

JK, they actually had fun. We played with dirt, gave high fives, and threw things...basically, every 4-year-old's dream. (Fun fact: kindergarten in Albania is for any kid under the age of 6, really. So we had two-year-olds in the class...who didn't really get the lesson. BECAUSE THEY ARE TWO YEARS OLD.) 

We took a lot of photos, and they absolutely loved looking at their pictures.

I promise to throw trash only in the trash bin.

Dan teaching the kiddos not to throw trash in the river.

Dirt + Vaseline + Soap + Water = Mess + Fun

The next day we taught an STI lesson for a tenth grade life skills class. Many high schoolers here speak English quite well, but we still did all the activities in both languages (with the help of translators).

On a totally non-practicum related note, but cute kids note, we went to Amber's house and spent some time with her host sister and friends...who are 7 years old. They taught us some games and we reciprocated. For the game in the video below, they had to try not to laugh at the end of the rhyme thing....which was ADORABLE.

What did I do today?

I got up at a decent time without the help of an alarm clock!

Had kafe with the neighbor ladies.

Almost broke the neighbor kids' new home-made swing. STOP FEEDING ME TORTE, FAMILY.

Played monkey in the middle with said kids AND taught them the color game.

Cleaned three rugs (which is ARDUOUS, let me tell you. Involves giant rugs, the hose, a big broom, dish soap, and at least two little slaves helpers).

I showered! Success!

Read the news for the first time in a week. (NPR, Buzzfeed, the usual).

Studied shume shqip. (shume = a lot)

Wrote three blog posts!

Finished the damnable Ready-to-Serve Response for my site assignment.

Missed a birthday lunch for my friend Dan. Shume keq. Me fal, Dan.

Did two loads of laundry HOLLA AT ME, CLEAN CLOTHES.

Trimmed my bangs.

Cleaned my room (which was also arduous, let me tell you.)

Read a book in my hammock. SHUME MIRE, LIFE. SHUME MIRE.

*Disclaimer: I only write these posts on days when when I'm particularly productive. Not on days when all I do is eat bread and watch Game of Thrones.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


In Jill's candy wrapper: "Then, what is a kiss? 'Tis a secret told to the mouth."


Everyone's talking at once, and someone suggests: "We need a talking-stick."
Amber: "Can it be a talking-cake? I'm hungry."


Me: "I can't wait to wear my dress for swearing-in - it's covered in sequins and it's all (glittery+shimmery)!"
...combine those two words. And I didn't say "glimmery".


In shqip, while learning past tense:
Me: "A long time ago, I ... opened a door. I closed it also."
Josh: "Two years ago, I ... lived."
You know who: "Yesterday, I ... wanted cake."


Jill, in the middle of class: "Can I borrow a rock? My show is stuck to the chair."


Remember how I told you that the verb pi, (pronounced "pee") actually means to drink? Here's another one for you: in shqip, "Hi! How are you?" is si je? (pronounced, "see ya!"). WHY ARE YOU SO CONFUSING, LANGUAGE?

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's pronounced "LOOSH-nyuh"

The Friday before my birthday was one of the biggest days of PST: SITE ANNOUNCEMENT DAY. Talk about nervous – they made us wait until the end of the day and threw on some “Final Countdown” while we all sat in our own stress sweat because OMG WHERE ARE WE GOING TO LIVE AND WORK FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS OF OUR LIVES?


Well, at least we know we'll be in Albania. We think.


Genti, our training manager. A wonderful person..who enjoyed (waaay too much) making us wait and sweat.

They put up the big map of Albania on the wall via powerpoint and one by one our faces popped up on our sites. And I’m going to (drumroll please)…….

Sorry, I’m not allowed to tell you haha, that’s hilarious obviously I’m going to tell everyone LUSHNJE!

Now, that blank look on your face right now? That’s what I looked like too. But the only things I really cared about were:

1. I have a sitemate! And I like her! And her name is Megan! (Actually, her name is a moot point. But I digress.)

2. There are churches in town…and we both go to church!
3. It’s on a main road so I can go visit everyone!
4. I have an AWESOME apartment! (I know this because I’m replacing a guy whose service is up and I’m moving into his awesome apartment.)

Not so great? It looks like Wisconsin. Except it’s 6,000 miles away. But still. Lots of corn…and flat.

But I’m quick furgon ride to both the Adriatic and the mountains so NBD.

We all went to the secret garden to celebrate (or commiserate). PST feels so different now...and it's going fast.

Full of warm fuzzies and unicorns and rainbows and cake. Mostly cake.

First of all - wow. I feel so loved. Thank you to everyone who called/skyped/posted/wrote to/sang to/prayed for/etc. me for my birthday. I felt it all and am so grateful!

That being said, let's talk about how my birthday went down...or how I AM THE WORST COOK MY HOST FAMILY HAS EVER SEEN SHAME SHAME SHAME.

Pre-hub coffee. We almost always hit up the Cafe Mozart before starting on the big group activities when all of us are in Elbasan for Hub Days.

During the day we hit up the Muzeu Etnografik, which is an old house in the middle of the city of Elbasan restored to what it would have looked like around 1870 (when it was built).

Amber and I talk about cake ALL. THE. TIME. Of course we needed a picture by the CAKE ME! sign.

When I got home, our house was SURPRISE! being re-insulated. Thanks for the heads up, fam. 

But they got me flowers from their garden and weird little presents!

Here's where it gets a little hairy. I wanted to make dinner for my family at some point, and thought my birthday would be a good day to try it out. I wanted to make guacamole. There are no avocados in Elbasan. So I went with the next best thing and attempted stuffed french toast.

If you know me at all, you may have noticed I might have a small bit of an total ego in the kitchen sometimes often always. Imagine my hysterics and emotional breakdown when this is what happened to my expensive dinner:

OMG I SUCK AT LIFE WHY GOD WHY? And now my family thinks I'm totally inadequate in the kitchen. Scratch that, they suspected if before and now they know for sure. I know they suspected it before because they had already made a spare dinner "just in case".

But we all ate my failed french toast anyway because it was still pretty delicious. I just stuffed the bread with strawberries and bananas and made an orange peel glaze to take the place of maple syrup. I'm going to blame the failure on the fact that the stove barely gets hot enough to fry an egg, let alone soggy-eggy bread.

But then they pulled out a cake and I was happy. And very, very, very full.

above: Happy Birthday Mary! below: my age plus 100 (kind of how in the US we sing "and many more" here they say "may you have one hundred more [birthdays]."

Thus ended my 23rd birthday...until I cake in class today from my teacher! Shoutout to the only best fig cake I've ever had!

And then I found five dollars.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The BIGGEST Happy Birthday Shout Out to the BESTEST Friend!


Since you're in Albania and we are here, we obviously can't be with you on your very special day. But we decided that we still wanted you to hear our voices and see our faces as we wished you a happy birthday! 

So we proudly present:
A Pro/Con List for Mary on her Birthday! (Plus something a little extra at the end for your viewing pleasure)*

But in all seriousness, we love you and we miss you!! We're so proud of you and the great adventure you are on. We can't wait to see who you become and how you grow during this 23rd year of life. You already have this huge heart that cares deeply and passionately about so many things, and that is truly inspiring. So many people back here are sending you so much love and prayers your way constantly! It's just not the same without you around, but we couldn't be anymore prouder of who you've become!

Missing you Mary! Love you!

*We love making music videos way too much! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Growing up, my best friend Samantha and I always shared a birthday party because our birthdays were only one day apart. When I moved to Mount Horeb as a twelve-year-old, I made a new friend whose birthday was two days before mine...thus it follows that she became my new BFF. Today is the first birthday in a decade that we haven't celebrated together. SAD DAY. But it's also the anniversary of her entrance into the world, so HAPPY DAY!

Thus, I post this video here on my blog because Facebook doesn't let you post video messages anymore. THANKS, FACEBOOK.

Oh, and happiest of happy birthdays, my darling friend! Love you and miss you and praying that this is your best year yet!

How I will greet her the next time I see her:

Also, this is super awkward. Just embrace it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vlog on my Blog, part II

It's kinda shaky, sorry, and also at one point I cackle like a senile old woman...but here's my second video! A tour of my house/room/living quarters for PST.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Librazhd's Tree

Yesterday was our first Sunday Funday - during which we, as PSTs spread out around the Elbasan area, will go from village to village to see each other's towns. First stop: Librazhd. And HOLY is it gorgeous! Pajove (my village) is in a river basin, surrounded by rolling mountains. Librazhd is waaaaay up there in the mountains by Sound-of-Music-esque views. We hiked up to the top of a nearby peak, where a lone tree looks out over literally miles of stunning views.

Of course, I forgot my camera.

But I'm stealing photos from my friend Amber, so...thanks, friend! I'll buy you some cake.