You know how excited you get when you move to (or visit) a new place? Everything is different, therefore new and exciting! You almost bounce down the street, giddy with anticipation over what you will see next. Your camera takes pictures of everyday, ordinary things, but to you, they are extraordinary. But the newness fades…it always does. The things you once found exciting are eventually normal. Novelty becomes commonplace.
But then someone else arrives, and you, as the seasoned veteran, have the privilege of showing them around, and suddenly you are experiencing the newness all over again through another’s eyes. That’s what happened today. I picked up Dana, our school’s new Mandarin teacher, from the airport this morning. Dana, who was moving to a new country for the first time, brought me back to how I felt in August, when I first experienced life in Albania. As we walked down the street, I noticed how she kept stopping, and when I turned around, I’d find her with her iPhone out snapping pictures of the colorful buildings, the street vendors, the blue sky. My first thought was “why is she taking a picture of that?”, before I realized, “duh…this is all new to her! of course she’d take a picture of that!” I did the same when I first arrived, too.
I remember riding my bike through the streets of Tirana, orienting myself to my new city, stopping randomly to take a photo of this or that. I’m the same way when I visit a new city. I enjoy wandering around, getting to know a new place by feeling the heartbeat of the city. Here’s Tirana through my eyes, back when it was all new to me.