It’s weird how quickly life goes by. It feels like just a blink of an eye and my entire existence in Albania has dissengrated. One moment I was saying goodbye to my students, my home, my boyfriend, and my life in Albania – shedding quite a few tears along the way. Now I sit in my apartment in a completely new place in the United States and a completely new life. This is one of the first times since I started school that I decided to take the night off and take a step back from homework. I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly busy I have been since returning back to the states. I got used to living a lifestyle of leisure in Albania. It was definitely a slower pace abroad and I can’t deny that I definitely enjoyed that. I miss sitting for hours at a coffee with friends and chatting about life. Now the only reason why I would be sitting at a coffee shop for hours is to do homework and I can attest to the fact that homework is not necessarily as enjoyable and sipping on kafe express in Kavaje with Chuck. I have three jobs including my internship for school. I am an enrollment specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. I also work for the admissions office at Wash U and I am one of the official bloggers (the blog hasn’t gone live yet, but I’ll provide the link once it does). And my practicum placement is in East St. Louis School District 189. It’s been super enlightening to work these new jobs and I feel like I’m learning a lot about my community, as well as the apparent inequality and oppression that Americans continue to face to this day.
I don’t know how to describe my transition back to the states. It hasn’t been easy. That’s for sure. But at the same time, it’s been okay. I have gotten used to the new normal of my life. Missouri is vastly different than Albania (and even vastly different from Colorado), but it’s exciting and new. I am experiencing different things all the time and I’m getting a great education. I am happy because I know that I’m on the right path to do exactly what I want to do with my life. I am a great social worker and now I am finally in a position where people appreciate the skills that I bring to the table. It doesn’t hurt that I attend the number one social work program in the country either. And it isn’t that people didn’t appreciate me in Albania, but there were always so many additional barriers that made it difficult to get things done.
I still listen to Albanian music everyday. My laptop desktop background is a picture of me and all the KYAC students on my last day. And I still talk to Quinn daily. I yearn for the familiar and my time in Albania. Yet, this is my new normal now. And it’s not bad. It’s actually pretty great.