Since I have been in Albania I have not heard very many positive things about the north. Mostly that It is very cold, it is difficult to travel around up there, and that it is one of the more dangerous areas in the country. Last week I had the chance to visit a current volunteer and see what life is like once you are done with training. I was to travel to the north to the small town of Rreshen. At first I was a bit disappointed that I would be going to the north, rather than the south, but once I experienced Rreshen, my feelings about northern Albania have completely changed.
Rreshen is a small village that is located east of Shenkoll. It is right in the middle of what is considered to be northern Albania. The village is up in the mountains. The views from Rreshen are absolutely beautiful. Although Rreshen is quite a small town, the town is actually pretty liberal. There are lots of young women out on the streets, even after dark. I had the opportunity to speak with a few high school aged girls and they told me that they frequently go out with their friends after it gets dark. The town is very small, but in comparison to Pajove, it is huge.
The point of my visit to Rreshen was to learn what life is like for a current TEFL volunteer. Because of this I stayed with a girl who teaches high-school English classes. She also works with students outside of school to help them study for the SAT's, TEFL exams, model UN, and various other activities. I got the opportunity to observe a few English classes at the high school in Rreshen. In comparison to the classes that I have observed in Pajove, Elbasan, and Besqim the kids in Rreshen behave very very well during class.
This visit really made me excited to finish training and to move to my site. I am so ready to get into the classrooms, become part of a community, and live in my own space. Visiting the north also made me realize that I would be happy wherever I am placed in Albania. The west and south have the beach and heat, while the north and east have beautiful mountains with lots of hiking and mountain biking trails. I am really glad that this was part of training because it got me even more excited to move to my permanent site and begin to get involved with my community.