I’ve come a long way from the girl that applied to Peace Corps on a whim to see if she could make it in, a long way from the girl who took out the electricity in every home that she stepped into, a long way from the girl who thought room-temperature food was disgusting, and a long way from the girl that thought furgons were the scariest experience of her life. Peace Corps has changed me in more ways than I could possibly ever explain to anyone, especially those who weren’t here to experience it with me along the way. That is why there will always be a special bond between me and the other group 16 volunteers that went through this experience in Albania with me. We all went through our highs and our lows, but we supported each other and helped each other through some of the darkest of times.
This experience in Albania has meant so much to me and I think that is why this past month I have been so emotional. Crying everyday has become a thing. Saying goodbyes is really hard. Especially saying goodbye to people that you may not see again anytime soon. It was hard to say goodbye to my friends and family in America, but it was different because I knew that I would see them all again in two years. This is distinctive because I am not sure my return date to Albania. It is harder because the friends that I have made these past two years, these friends that I now consider family, will be moving in all different states across America (or even countries across the world). It is tough because I want to stay, but I have to go. I want to stay because of KYAC, because of the students that have changed my perspective, because of my new family here, because of my new life and who I am outside of that life I was tied down to in the states, because I am in love with someone who is going to stay another year.
Goodbyes are really hard, but I’m trying to think of these farewells more like a “see you later” situation.
I am torn. I am excited to go back to the states and to start grad school. I can’t wait to eat a burrito again and order Chinese food delivery. I want to spend time with my family and my friends that I’ve had for years. But I also love my new life. The life I have created for myself these past two years. It’s weird to have to give all that up. It’s strange to move out of my quirky apartment, give up and pass along the projects I’ve worked so hard to develop, leave my friends and students behind not knowing what kind of opportunities they will have now that I am gone, and give up the more relaxed lifestyle of a Peace Corps volunteer. But, I signed up for Peace Corps knowing that is would be a 27-month commitment and that my time as a volunteer would eventually come to an end.
I’m sure once I’m back stateside that I’ll be able to continue to reflect on this experience with a new perspective. Peace Corps is the best thing that has ever happened to me. This is my last blog post while I am in Albania, but you can look out for more blogs to come in the future regarding my post-Peace Corps eurotrip and my readjustment back to America.
Today, June 5th, I am leaving Albania. For now I’m off on a trip across Europe. It’s my first time traveling by myself, but I think that after being in Albania for two years I can handle anything. I’m planning on traveling to Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Ireland. I’ll keep you updated!
Thank you, dear readers, for spending the time these past two years to listen to my ramblings and experience this journey with me.
The last of G16 to COS.
My final meeting with the students at the youth center. I made them baked goods and gave everyone participation certificates.
Having coffee with my neighbor Luci in her home.
Last visit with my host family
Final beach day with some of the KYAC teenagers
Having coffee with one of my favorite Albanian families and the new PCVs
The last time I’ll hang out with all these people in the same place.