"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain

Monday, April 29, 2013

Untitled Blog Post #6

March 10th 2013

Today I listened to a song that has a lot of good memories behind it. Driving around in my car summer after freshman year with my 2 best friends listening to this album was the majority of what I did. I was filled with the freedom of being a single college girl about to embark on another year of studying. But for the summer I didn’t have a care in the world.

Today as I listened to this song I thought to myself that no summer could ever be as good as that one. Funny story: they have been. And they will be. The funny thing about life is that I keep thinking it can’t get any better, and it just keeps proving me wrong.

March 11th 2013
Sometimes when I think about you, I think to myself “I am meant to be with him, and someday I will be. We are perfect for each other.” Then I remember how much better my life is now and I think I must be completely crazy. Will I ever be able to just move completely on and forward with my life?

March 17th 2013

Holy mama! 4 months from today I’ll be living in Jakarta. I’m at the same point I was last year: Unsure of where to start. I have so much to prepare so that I will already have my visa when I get there, but I don’t know how to get things translated to Indonesian. And holy crap! I probably better learn some Indonesian.

All I’m interested in right now is planning my trip home. I have so much to do and so little time to do it in, that I’m not really sure how it is going to work. So for now I’ve just been spending my extra time doing the only logical thing I can. Hanging out with my friends, who I realize I’m never going to be able to replace. Let’s be honest, I have been insanely lucky to meet people I’m so compatible with.

To think, I thought moving would be easier this time around. What was I thinking??

April 3rd 2013

3 months from now I start a new job! I feel like I’m back to square one as far as preparations go. I’m starting to learn a bit of the language, and I keep looking at my clothes wondering what will go with me. Basically nothing. Goodbye sweaters, goodbye winter coats, and goodbye jeans. I’ve also made a list of things I need to buy when I’m home (waterproof gear, new running shoes, hiking boots, ect…) and a list of what I want to do while I’m there. I’ve turned in almost all of my documents, except for the testing I need to get done at the hospital (still waiting to hear back about setting up an appointment.)

In all honesty I’m getting sad about leaving Tirana, not because I like it, but just because it was a very important chapter of my life. But I’m sure the next one will be just as crazy, stressful, and life changing.

On another note today I felt like a great teacher, and we got to start preparing for the international week at our school. I may have volunteered to do a bit much considering I’ll be in the last 2 weeks of grad school when it happens, but I think I can take it. Hopefully by then I’ll have my trip home a bit figured out and all my documents for Jakarta ready to go J

April 7th 2013
Things I should have done today:
  1. Deep cleaned my house since I move out in about 2 months.
  2. Taught myself some Indonesian
  3. Researched Jakarta ex-pat life, and begin preparing myself for the culture shock.
  4. Researched IPC curriculum so I know a bit more about it before I start teaching it.

What I did instead:
Walked around in the rain wondering how on earth I got here, who I’ve become, and how I became so selfish. And wishing I had a coffee to carry around with me. I have nothing to complain about.

Aril 10th 2013

Some days I can’t help but think that at this point in my life I should be spending my nights planning my wedding, or how I’m going to decorate my first home. Instead I’m spending my nights making lists of places I want to travel to while I’m in Jakarta. Remind me how I got here again?

April 23rd 2013
Sometimes when I listen to depressing music I wonder why I’m doing it. I think I may be just a little bit addicted to emotional pain. Maybe that is why I can’t just let go. So close, and yet so far away…..

April 28th 2013
I met a group of very insightful high schoolers last night, who managed to teach me something very important. They said that in Tirana, having fun isn’t about what you are doing, because there isn’t much to do. It’s all about the company that you keep. I love it when somehow students manage to teach you something.  They also said they were in very good company (they were with a bunch of teachers.)

I spent my day today watching documentaries about Indonesia with Scott and Robert. The place is so intriguing and the more I find out about it, the more interested I become. Some things make me scared as hell to live there, while others just make me eager to get there and explore. I have a feeling it will be similar to Tirana because I think I’m going to hate the city but love the nature near me. I can’t wait! 2 months from now I’ll be on my way :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


So I’m currently supposed to be editing my final paper for college. Maybe the final one ever. But I just can’t focus on that. I had a great day and finally got a chance to work out, and my energy levels have skyrocketed. I’m dancing around the house listening to the Roe Family Singers and sipping on a new kind of beer, which is pretty delicious considering it is a wheat.

I have to admit that I’ve been having a lot of mood swings recently. I’m so happy about going to Jakarta, and with having the opportunity to visit home (even if briefly.) But I’m getting very sad about leaving my friends. I’ve started realizing that I’m going to miss certain things about Albania, but by far, the thing I will miss the most is the awesome friends I have gained.

One of my friends back home suggested, awhile ago, that I write a blog post about the people that matter the most to me. I told him this was impossible, because I didn’t want to describe them in an inaccurate way. The time has come, however, to try and explain what these people mean to me. Where to begin?

Scott: Dependent. From the very time we met I knew we would get along. You kept asking Jeff questions (that I had) and agreed to explore the city with me. You encouraged me with stories of your past experiences abroad and your support has continued to this very point. The fun only continued when we began our road trips together and you suggested we get a beer with our coffee. This is when I fell in love with you. Our explorations of the city continued and have left me with great memories, and better viewpoints on the culture of this city. The explorations even collided into our teaching careers as we took on photography club, football club, and science club together. Thank you for introducing me to, possibly, the best book ever, and for always being willing to get a beer and quofte with me. I can’t wait for our adventures to continue in Southeast Asia J Ermagherd Indernesher!

Cortney: Thank you for suggesting we teach first grade together! I was so thankful to have the support and encouragement during my first year. All those times laying on the carpet and sorting out our classroom issues were what kept me sane. Also, I have managed to learn a lot about classroom management from you. If it weren’t for you I’m not sure that I would be moving to Jakarta. You planted this seed of knowledge about what existed in the world, and gave me the advice on how I could see it all. Also thanks for being a girl and having serious girl talks with me. I love the boys to death, but sometimes girls have to talk out their girl issues. You got me out of my shell, dancing, and goofing off when needed. We will keep in touch for sure.

Robert: Where do I begin with you? When you first arrived in Tirana I thought that I was going to lose a very good friend, and as it would turn out I was about to gain one of the best friends ever. We needed a young soul in the group. Thank you for supporting me through the pain of my tattoo, and day drinking with me on several occasions, and just for doing things with me in general."Hey Robert! You do stuff with me..." I’ll never forget jumping into the freezing cold water with you in Bosnia, and our talks on the porch will remain my favorite memories of this city for forever. I'm so proud of who you are becoming. Fucking zeros and goddamn ones!

Bobby: Though I don’t know you as well as I’d like to, I do have a few things to thank you for. The cookies and cupcakes you make are incredible! Thank you for purchasing and allowing me to use your scanner on several occasions. Also, thank you for setting a good example of what a nice respectable man should be. It has been awhile since I’ve met a gentleman like you.

Adam: You rock! Thanks for introducing me to several places with good beer(not sure how I would have survived otherwise), and for always translating for my lazy language learning skills. You taught me a lot about this country that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Jeff: You deserve a shout out for being an incredible boss. I’ve had my fair share of good bosses, but the light you bring to our school is incredible. You were always there to sort out the messes and make sure we all had smiles on our faces. Thank you for organizing all the trips, making sure everything ran smoothly, and doing twice the work of all of us combined. 

Thank you, to all of you for being part of this adventure and making sure I had the time of my life. I'm sure this isn't the end of any of our relationships. Cortney would agree that it is time for an inspirational song:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A home away from home, away I went

First off, welcome to spring. I’m sitting on my balcony, in a skirt and a tank top, sipping on coffee with Jameson in it. As my brother says, “you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.” I just got back from a quick run at the lake (1 mile walk there, 2 mile run, and 1 mile walk home.) Needless to say, running again is taking a lot out of me. I just ate a delicious veggie omelet, and I’m starving.

I haven’t written much about life recently, since I’ve been writing a lot about my travels. I have a whole set of short blog posts ready to copy and paste, but I think there is something more important I need to write about. Mostly for me, but also for the people I love. I haven’t been honest with most of you, because my selfishness makes me feel like a terrible horrible human being.

I admit it. I’m extremely selfish. For so many reasons, but mainly because I won’t give up my dreams for anyone, even those I love the most. When I came to Tirana the dream was to travel around Europe for 2 years and head home, to start my “real life.” But plans change, and maybe it’s stupid that we make long-term plans at all. I’ll give you a million bucks if you are someone who has followed a basic 5-year plan, without changing anything. The problem is I have to find a way to tell those I love about my plans, because I hate leaving them in the dark. And though I’ve hinted at these plans I haven’t told very many people about them. So here goes, my 5 year plan:

Year 1: Teach my ass off in Jakarta. Learn Indonesian enough to have some conversations, meet some wonderful friends, travel around Southeast Asia as much as possible. Adjust to the culture and find some thing I love to eat, drink, and do. Basically find my niche. And send home as much as possible to pay off student loans with.

Year 2: Grow as a teacher in Indonesia. 2 years in a row at the same school will be a great benefit to my professional growth, and I’m looking pretty forward to not having to move for a few years. Immerse myself in the culture. Try more new things, and finish traveling around Southeast Asia. Maybe go home for Christmas to see my wonderful family. Pay off more loans.

Year 3-4: Dubai. Sign a 2 year contract and make a ton of money. Put it all towards loans, and save some of it for a few big trips. I need an African Safari in my life, and I’d like to see a bit of the Middle East. This was never officially on my list, but let’s be realistic, neither was the Balkans. Hopefully at the end of this I’ll have my loans either paid off, or be pretty damn close.

Year 5: Teach in South America. I’m dying to go here! The issue is that as a teacher you usually only make a local teacher’s salary plus accommodation. With my loans as high as they are this is just not an option, but if I’ve spent 4 years teaching and paying as much as I can on them I think it will be doable. Travel all over South America!

Then it will be time to go home. For real. I can get settled into a real job in MN, and hopefully continue to save money for more traveling. I still have almost all of the US left and I need to spend another month in Western Europe, and another month in the Balkans.

So there you have it. I came to Albania with the intention of traveling around Europe and I’m leaving it with the intention of traveling the world. My original plan didn’t work out and I doubt this one will either.

And to my dear, dear mother and family, and friends, if you get to the end of reading this and are sobbing, know that I love you so very much. I’ll try to make it home at least once a year, and I’ll be there for you through everything as best as my selfish-self can. And after typing that I’m sobbing, because that doesn’t seem like enough after all you’ve given me. So I’ll give you a song as well. Thanks for being my solid ground. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013


I knew that Kosovo would be an interesting cultural experience. Firstly, Albania claims that Kosovo is actually part of Albania, and secondly Serbia claims that Kosovo is actually part of Kosovo. Confused yet? I know I was. In reality Kosovo is a country all of it's own, but when I visited Prizren this is not how I felt. I felt as though I was in a slightly cleaner version of Albania.

The road to Kosovo was probably the safest road I've been on since I arrived in the Balkans. It included  a 5km tunnel, filled with lights and signs, as well as actual road markings. Though it was the same distance to Prizren as it was to Saranda it took about half the time because the highway is fully paved.

After arriving, I was in pretty bad need of a coffee, and Prince Coffee was able to deliver with several options for iced, milky, sugary coffee drinks. I had a delicious Iced Almond Latte. If I was in America chances are I wouldn't have ordered this in a million years, but as time would tell I ended up getting a second one before we left. It's amazing how much not having something makes you want it.

Post coffee and baked items we hiked up to the fortress, which was only about 10-15 minutes up. There were plenty of breathtaking views, and a very nice cannon which we used as a prop for picture taking.

After we felt we had explore the entire fortress we headed back down into the city for a relaxing lunch of fish, chicken, pasta, and vegetable stew pot at one of the higher rated restaurants. I found the food to be adequate  but nothing spectacular. The next hour or so was spent just walking around and looking at the artwork along the river. Shortly thereafter, we decided we had seen what there was to see and were ready to go home.

The thing I found interesting about Kosovo was that for a country that has worked so hard to be independent, I saw more Albanian flags there than Kosovarian flags. Overall a day was perfectly adequate to see the whole city, and we were lucky to have a very sunny day. Kosovo was a very small step up from Albania, mostly because there was less pollution.