Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chips & Salsa Detox

I have been living in Belesh, Albania for one week now. In some moments, it feels like just yesterday I got here. In others, it feels like I am in a whirlwind. We have been pretty busy with our Pre-Service Training. Mostly, my favorite part is learning Albanian. I am now speaking a pretty horrible combination of English and Albanian (Albanish)...but I have hope that I will soon be able to speak sentences that are greater than 3 words. I never thought I would be so happy having my host family understand me when I say "I am full" or "I have to go to school now."

Speaking of host family...they are great! My host mother (who is actually younger than me) had a baby three weeks ago, so I have enjoyed getting to see such a cutie-patootie every day. My host father is one unique, incredible man. Luckily, he speaks English quite well so he has been helping me to understand and learn new words every day. He is a lawyer and does a lot of work with Albania's Blind Association. Though this may come as a slight surprise, I did manage to get myself in trouble with my family. On Fridays, we have to travel to the "hub" (Elbasan) to have training sessions with the rest of the trainees. After lessons this Friday, many of us decided to walk around and we ultimately ended up getting a beer. It was such a blast and we enjoyed the opportunity to have an unsupervised moment to relax with the other trainees. We ended up leaving around 5 PM, but by the time we rode in the furgon back to Belesh, it was 6:30 PM. I walk in the house and the entire family, including my little sister, were shaking their finger at me. My host father said it is not good to be late in Albania. Lesson learned. By the way, everyone watches the Albanian Big Brother here religiously!

After living with a host family, it is hard not to notice the distinct gender norms here. Women stay in the house cleaning, cooking, tending to the garden, etc. The problem here is that I do not really fit this female norm...I burnt the rice a little today. Maybe this means they will never ask me to cook again? The men are the ones that leave the house to work, have coffee, and, it seems, to stand along the road. My host sister says women don't go out! I have experienced the unwanted attention and slight harassment a woman can attract when not conforming to these gender norms. Luckily, I have incredible site-mates that are always looking out for each other. I take this as a lesson well a woman in a country with such distinct gender norms, I need to get it out of my head that I can enjoy coffee with my friends when I want. Nonetheless, I am so happy to be here every morning when I wake up. I cannot wait to learn more Shqip (Albanian) so that I can actually have a conversation I understand and I cannot wait to learn more about this country and its culture.

Finally, I am currently undergoing an unwanted detoxification from my chips and salsa addiction. I think about eating chips and salsa more than is healthy for any one person. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The food here is delicious, though. Mom and Dad, you would be proud of what I am eating. Dishes with liver and intestines are delicacies. So, if you happen to miss me, even in the slightest, please eat some chips and salsa on my behalf!

1 comment:

  1. I'll eat some chips and salsa now for you Stac cause I need a snack. Miss you, check your email too I sent you a message :)