Tuesday, June 26, 2012


When one starts out on their Peace Corps journey, it seems like the the time you have just committed yourself to serving in a foreign country, where you don't know or understand the language and culture, will be a long and challenging two years.There is definitely truth in that logic, however what I expected of my Peace Corps service and what I actually experienced were not exactly the same.

What I imagined prior to my arrival in Albania was a volunteer position in which I would constantly be busy working to develop and improve various aspects of Albania and Albanian worth ethics, while having to endure underdeveloped living conditions. I did not expect to integrate as much as I did into the Albanian lifestyle and I also didn't imagine that the living condition hardships would ever become a 'normal' way of life.   

After living in Albania for two years, one no longer acknowledges the extra time it takes to do pretty much anything and everything. Going to meetings and having the other party show up 15-30 min late or even not at all is not unusual. Having to start dinner an hour before you plan to actually cook it is something you just do and don't even think about. Taking a cold shower because there is no isn't as much of a downer as it used to be. Weird and frustrating became no big deal. Albanian way of life became my way of life.

To be honest I didn't realize how much I had integrated into Albanian culture until I arrived back in the States after being gone for over two years. This experience has definitely erased all doubts I have ever had about species adaptation. Of course my 'change' is much more slight, but it has made me think about what I would be like if I had stayed away from the States for even longer.

Upon my return to the US many of my friends and family asked me what I missed the most. It really is exactly the same of what I missed most about the US, my friends and family (PC family). Because I was the only American in my site, I had to really reach out and become part of my Albanian community so I could have a support network where I lived and worked. Because I was placed in that situation, I made wonderful friends and was able and had to fully embrace Albanian culture.

To all those who wonder what it is like to return to the US after living abroad for over two years, yes, it is difficult reintegrating into the American lifestyle. Living as part of a different community really opens one's eyes to what is important and where one should focus one's energy.

I came back to the US having a different outlook on life, which is good and bad. I still need to work through how I can combine my world views and morals that I have gained with my life in America.


Anonymous said...

Hi, an Albanian here.
I'm curious how the merge will end up.
My guess is that you're gona revert completely to U.S. way of thinking, but if you'll find yourself in difficult moments, that Albanian part of you may compete to take over.
Anyway when you sort this out, please update.

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