Moving abroad was the single best decision I have ever made. Five years ago, in 2010, I made the decision to live and teach in Shanghai, China, packing up my life and moving literally halfway across the world. It definitely hasn’t always been easy, and I’m not without my scars, but the benefits of this expat life far outweigh any setback I’ve encountered. I have met some amazing people who will forever be in my life. I’ve experienced life in another culture, challenging my beliefs and giving me a broader perspective on life. And I’ve had the opportunity to travel to incredible places I never would have otherwise. I am a different person, a better person, because of my experiences in China, and I will forever hold this place close to my heart. But my time in China is quickly coming to an end. After five years, and three positions at my school, I have decided to try something different.
This fall, I’m off on a new adventure! Beginning in August 2015, I will move to Tirana, Albania! I am really jazzed by this move, as it provides me with opportunities to challenge myself in many ways. As part of the leadership team, I’ll be opening a new school, Albanian College, which will open its doors to students for the first time on September 1st of this year. I’m the Deputy Head of School/PYP Coordinator, a dual position that will split once enrollment increases. In addition to the excitement of opening a brand-new school, I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking the school through the PYP authorization process.
So, you might be asking yourself….where exactly is Albania? I know I did! 🙂 Albania is in Eastern Europe, near Greece and Italy. It’s not officially part of the EU yet, although they are a candidate. Albania is a small country, roughly the size of Maryland, USA.
I’ve been doing a lot of research to find out as much as I can about my new country. Here are a few facts I’ve learned. I’m looking forward to learning lots more once I arrive!
- Size= 28,000 sq. km. or 11,000 sq. miles
- Total population of Albania is about 3,000,000.
- Tirana, where I will be, is the capital. Tirana’s population is about 1,000,000. Shanghai is roughly 24,000,000, so it’s going to feel so tiny in comparison! There are about 1 million people living in my neighborhood here! :O
- Albanian is the official language, and while it’s probably easier to learn than Chinese, it’s a pretty difficult language. English is not widely spoken, so I’ll be taking lessons! I’ve already picked up a few words and phrases.
- The official currency is Lek. $1 USD= 123 Lek
- The cost of living is extremely low since Albania is a very poor country.
- There is only one American chain in the entire country, and it’s not McDonald’s or Starbucks. It’s….Cinnabon! I kinda love this! 🙂
- Food is a mix of Greek, Turkish, and Italian. Yumm!!
- The climate is a typical Mediterranean climate. They have heavy annual rainfall. This isn’t my favorite thing, but you can’t win ’em all, right?
- Apparently they don’t drive well there, but they don’t in China either, so I think I’m ready.
- They shake their head for yes (‘po’) and nod their head for no (‘jo’). My brain is seriously going to have a hard time with this one. Try it- say “no” while nodding your head. It’s freaking hard!
In addition to finding out random facts about Albania, I’ve been researching pictures…and I must say, Albania is a gorgeous country I cannot wait to explore! Check it out for yourself…
I’m soooo excited!! 🙂 I suspect I’ll have quite a few visitors in the three years I’ll be living there.
Here’s a video of Tirana, where I will live. Check it out!