Tag Archives: Tirana

Year in Photos 2016

Sometimes pictures are better than words. They can tell more of a story, inviting the reader to infer their meaning, ask questions about their significance to the writer, and wonder what happened before and after the snapshot was taken. I’ve been telling a story of my year in photos for the past couple of years (click here for my year in photos for 2014 and 2015), and it is an exercise I enjoy, looking back through my year’s photos, deciding which ones to include and which ones are better left out. Without further adieu, here is my 2016 year in photos, in chronological order.

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Last Day

Today was the last day of school with students, but for some reason, it didn’t feel like a typical last day of school. It’s weird. Normally, the end of school has a buzz to it. There’s an excitement in the air that is palpable. I’m not quite sure why today didn’t feel like that to me. Maybe it was because while today was the last full day, students are returning to school for 2 hours on Friday for an assembly and to pick up their reports and portfolios. Maybe it’s because I was glued to the computer most of the day editing said reports. Maybe it’s because many of our students were absent, already on holiday and enjoying the beach. Maybe it’s because it’s a Tuesday. Usually last days are Fridays, which naturally bring excitement. Or maybe it was a combination of all of it. I guess it’s just hard to imagine being done this week. I want that feeling that normally accompanies the end of the year to make it feel done.

We have a lot to celebrate this year. We came together, this bunch of very talented educators, and formed a team. We learned how to collaborate with one another, and we created a school. There’s something really magical about that. Ten months ago, ACT was just a vision. We made it a reality, and we should be proud of that. We inspired students. We nurtured a school community. We developed curriculum and policies and reports and systems. We supported one another through the hard times, and we celebrated the good ones. We did it…together.

While this year was tough, as any first year of a brand new school probably is, I have my team to thank. They have worked so hard to create a real school that we can be proud of, and for that, I am grateful. So, even though today didn’t feel like the last day, it’s okay. Maybe it will on Friday.

Adrenaline

There’s something about the end of the school year that just gets my adrenaline pumping. The combination of the million things that have to be done, the dress up days for Spirit Week, the reflecting on the year’s accomplishments, the fast pace of trying to squeeze it all in, the weekends with friends enjoying the sunshine, the kids buzzing with excitement, the flurry of teacher interviews and meetings with prospective parents telling them about how awesome my school is…all of this and more adds to the adrenaline pumping through my veins. MY brain is in overdrive and I’m having trouble sleeping, but I keep going, working toward that finish line. Once I reach it, I know I’ll be exhausted and in need of a break. This is why schools invented summer breaks. As much as the kids need a break from the go-go-go, so do teachers and administrators (even more I think!).

And then summer comes and I get to breathe. I get to do what I want to do, and it’s amazing! Things like sleeping in, having long, wandering conversations with friends and family you haven’t seen in a year, reading for pleasure, barbecues with loved ones, going to the cinema, shopping (!!), having more time and space to write, really reflecting on the past year and making plans about how to improve when I come back in August, trying out new recipes, and swimming and laying out in the sun.

I have two more weeks of adrenaline. Two more weeks to get it all done. Two more weeks to say goodbyes. Two more weeks to enjoy my students and teachers. Two more weeks to enjoy Tirana before heading out for six weeks of traveling and visiting home. Two more weeks until the first year at ACT is done. As much as I want time to slow down, I know it’s going to be here in no time. I’m going to try and slow down as much as I can, take it all in, and enjoy all that our team has accomplished this year. Starting a new school is hard work, but the rewards are great!

Putting Some Zen On It #sol16 29 of 31

I went to IKEA a few weeks ago, and ever since, I’ve been itching to put all my stuff away and organize my apartment. Since I’ve been out of the country the past three weekends, I simply haven’t had the time. Once I got home yesterday, I started on my room. Tonight I picked up where I left off, finishing up my room and the living room.

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I was pretty happy with my place before, but now it’s got my stamp on it. I feel so zen and peaceful in my room now. For one thing, plants bring life and vibrancy into what was once dull and lifeless. I just love how a place can be spruced up simply by adding some green plants! Before the transformation, I had these heavy, ornate, large lamps on my bedside tables. The light they gave off was harsh and too bright. My new lamps give off a warm glow, and make it feel so much more of home-y. I’m big on lighting! I organized my drawers, throwing out a bunch of junk and putting everything in the right place. Now my bedside tables are no longer cluttered, and are able to hold some art and plants, and my writer’s notebook, of course. I love hanging out in here now!

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I made a few minor changes to the living room. I swapped the old floor lamp for softer lighting. The previous one flickered every time you turned it on, and was very distracting. I also added some new artwork and pictures that I had recently bought. Plants and candles complete the transformation, making it more like home.

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I can’t wait to finish the rest of the house! I want to reorganize the bathroom with all of my cute new baskets and bins that I picked up. My kitchen is in serious need of some reorganization, too. I plan on clearing out all the unused dishes cluttering my cabinets, which will make it easier to find what I want. Lastly, I can’t wait to finish organizing my guest room, making it more colorful and inviting. This weekend should be the perfect time to get it all done. I am in town this weekend, and I’m so happy to stay put!

A Year in Photos- 2015 #sol16 20 of 31

Last year, I wrote a post sharing my favorite photos from 2014. This was a really great way to reflect on my year, and to relive some of my favorite moments. So here goes 2015’s year in photos (in chronological order). I hope you enjoy! 🙂

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All photos copyright of Jennifer Kesler. Please do not use without permission.

A Glimpse of My Place #sol16 3 of 31

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You know how Facebook has those reminders of ‘things that happened on this day’? They’re always fun to look at and let you take a little stroll down memory lane. Today’s inspiration comes from a Facebook memory. I was reminded that 2 years in a row I wrote about my apartments in Shanghai for my third slice of life, so I figured, why not write about my place in Albania for slice number three?

Prior to moving to Albania, my school sent us some pictures of several apartments to choose from, but we were also given the option of waiting until we arrived to find a place, but places would be on a first-come, first-served basis. Most of the options were not great in my opinion, so I was nervous about waiting to look for a place until I came for fear that there would be even fewer options available. One place seemed like it would work, so I timidly accepted it. I was cautious because if we claimed a place before arriving and didn’t like it when we looked at it, we couldn’t change our minds.

All my fears were assuaged when I arrived on that hot, sticky day in August. My landlords met me at my new place at 10:00pm, after my delayed flight, and showed me around my flat. I fell in love with my landlords straight away, since they were so welcoming and sweet. I quickly fell in love with my place, too, as it definitely looked better in person than it did in the pictures. The first thing that I noticed was just how big it was! It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom flat that’s 1700 square feet…and I live alone! All of my apartments in Shanghai were much smaller, and double the price. I also loved that it was furnished, and I mean fully furnished! The kitchen was stocked with all the dishes, pots and pans, and serving dishes I could ever need. All the beds (4) had two sets of bedding each and loads of blankets. I even had lots of rugs to use on marble floor when the cold winter arrived. This was a completely foreign concept to me as an expat, as I’m used to dropping a lot of money in the first month buying all the essentials I need. The thing I love most about my place is that it feels like home. It’s comfortable, and I’m able to host parties and gatherings with large numbers of people, which is something I value very much.

It looks a little differently today, as I’ve added my personal touches, but here are the pictures from when I first moved in. Take a tour of my place with me…

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The living and dining rooms

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Another view of the living room

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The kitchen…notice the dishwasher?!? I haven’t had one of these in 5 years!

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The balcony…now much more inviting, as it’s filled with plants 🙂

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My bedroom…the dark picture has since been replaced with a map of the world 🙂

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Another view of my bedroom…the furniture is a little over the top, don’t you think? 😉

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My bathroom…yep, that’s a bidet! I use it to wash my feet. hehe

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My ‘spaceship’ shower…seriously this thing is amazing! It lights up, plays music, has jets in the tub and on the side, has a rain shower, and apparently has the capability of taking phone calls, but I’ve yet to try out that feature! 🙂

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I have a washer AND a dryer…something almost completely unheard of! While I still hang my clothes most of the time, it’s nice to have for those cold, wet, dark days of winter.

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Guest room #1, bed #1

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Guest room #1, bed #2

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Guest room #2

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Guest bathroom

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View from my bedroom

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View from the kitchen

Thanks for taking a tour of my place…hope you enjoyed it! I have plenty of room if you ever fancy a visit to Tirana, Albania!

 

Through Another’s Eyes #sol16 2 of 31

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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.

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