Mirupafshim: Goodbye Peace Corps

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.

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.

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.

Having coffee with my neighbor Luci in her home.

Last visit with my host family

Last visit with my host family

Final beach day with some of the KYAC teenagers

Final beach day with some of the KYAC teenagers

Having coffee with one of my favorite Albanian families and the new PCVs

Having coffee with one of my favorite Albanian families and the new PCVs

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The last time I'll hang out with all these people in the same place.

The last time I’ll hang out with all these people in the same place.

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What I’ll Miss About Peace Corps and Albania

Albania has been such a wonderful country to live in these past two years. I have come to love a lot of the cultural differences and things that I once found strange are now completely normal. Living in a completely different area of the world helped give me a new lenses and a different perspective on life. I will miss so many things about this culture and about being a Peace Corps volunteer, but there are also some things that I am happy to leave behind. The good far outweighs the bad though. Here are some things that I will and won’t miss about my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania:

Some things that I will miss

  1. Time with Quinn
  2. The ridiculously large portion size of wine
  3. Traveling around europe for cheap
  4. Having free time to self-reflect and work on personal growth
  5. Weekly dinners with my sitemate chuck
  6. Sleeping in
  7. Shopping at the second-hand market
  8. The unpredictability of everything
  9. Hearing the call the prayer
  10. Albanian hospitality
  11. Cheap everything
  12. Cute Roma children who try to practice their English with me
  13. Summer nights
  14. Having time to read as many books as I want
  15. Bidets
  16. KYAC and my students
  17. The friendly ladies at the grocery stores around town
  18. The man who gave me free olives and always asked about my brother
  19. My vegetable lady who always told me how wonderful I am for absolutely no reason
  20. The waiter Genti at Art Cafe
  21. Having coffee with Gloria, Clody, and their family in the evenings
  22. My host family
  23. TV show marathons during down time
  24. Summer camps
  25. Seeing sheep and farm animals everywhere
  26. National events
  27. That feeling when a lesson was successful
  28. Bike rides to the beach
  29. Running around the villages
  30. Evenings on PCV’s balcony’s spent contemplating life and drinking wine
  31. Entertaining fashion choices
  32. Brightly colored buildings
  33. My Kavaje friends: Entela and Bora
  34. Everyone asking where I have been lost constantly
  35. My neighbor Luci who I still can’t understand half the time
  36. Spending weekends in Berat with Quinn, Dan, and QRB
  37. Being able to walk anywhere
  38. Techno blasting in furgons
  39. The secret garden
  40. Having a good lunch for less than two dollars
  41. Feta cheese
  42. Spending hours at coffee with people
  43. Meeting with the Model UN students every Monday and Thursday
  44. The daily adventure
  45. Sense of community
  46. Irida and her family (and their wonderful home-cooked dinners)
  47. Tomato, onion, and spinach byrek
  48. The kindness of strangers
  49. Not having a smartphone and having real moments with people
  50. Never really quite understanding everything that is going on

Some things I won’t miss

  1. Traveling in unreliable transport
  2. Harassment from men on the street
  3. Smoking inside
  4. Crazy driving and being scared for my life
  5. Being a “celebrity”
  6. Roosters all night
  7. Weird intestinal issues
  8. Trash everywhere
  9. Not having enough options of “female-friendly” places to hang out
  10. Working with people who are jaded with the system
  11. Dog fighting and the condition of some street animals
  12. Toilets that don’t flush
  13. Bathrooms without toilet paper
  14. Worrying about drinking water
  15. How cold my apartment was during the winter
  16. Everyone being concerned about my marital status
  17. Hand-washing my clothes because my laundry machine had mold
  18. Not having enough tangible work at my primary assignment
  19. Feeling sick walking around during the summer heat
  20. Never really quite understanding everything that is going on

50 Things I’ve Learned in Albania

  1. Life is all about perspective
  2. Patience truly is a virtue
  3. I can do a push up
  4. Bright lipstick is fashionable and appropriate
  5. Writing a grant is totally worth it in the end
  6. It is possible to have an entire basic conversation in Albanian using mainly the word ‘mire’
  7. Glitter, heels, and tight clothing make any outfit much better
  8. It’s fun to xhiro in the evening
  9. How to cultivate awareness
  10. Texting on T9 ain’t so bad
  11. You can always bargain at the second hand market
  12. How to say no and when to say yes
  13. I can run over a mile without stopping
  14. It is hard to make care package food last more than an hour, but it’s possible
  15. Using a Turkish (squat) toilet is not the end of the world
  16. Raki is basically like poison, but it pairs well with a macchiato
  17. How to interpret opposite head knod, finger wag, and tics
  18. Apartment heat is a luxury
  19. I can now sleep on any surface
  20. Circle dancing is fun and a great way to spend any Albanian party (because the music is too loud to have a real conversation anyways)
  21. Bad wine is better as a “spritzer” with sparkling water
  22. How to be an assertive pedestrian
  23. Don’t measure a successful life only on work
  24. Sometimes you won’t have a seat on public transport, so it’s essential to learn how to balance on make shift chairs in furgons
  25. Charades, enough said
  26. You can flush a toilet that doesn’t have a flush handle by using a bucket of water
  27. It’s okay to wink at children and its appropriate in many situations
  28. How to avoid cars while walking in the middle of the street
  29. It’s important to carry wet wipes or toilet paper at all times
  30. How to wash dishes at lightening speed
  31. Hitch hiking can be a fast way to travel
  32. How to stay cool with no air conditioning and how to stay warm with no heat
  33. Card games make any night out with friends more enjoyable
  34. Even if you’re 15 minutes late you’re still on time
  35. It’s okay to wag your finger and tisk to say no
  36. How to work with limited resources
  37. Half of the work is just showing up
  38. Albanians will answer/use the phone during all times of the day
  39. Roosters crow all night long (it is a myth that they crow when the sun rises)
  40. Street dogs are usually pretty friendly
  41. Most work is done over coffee and good things come in time
  42. Watch the road for holes and cracks
  43. It’s usually warmer outside than inside in the winter.
  44. Cheap red wine taste better cold
  45. Honking the car to get someone’s attention in most situations is normal
  46. Tomorrow doesn’t always actually mean tomorrow, be flexible
  47. To eat the entire lemon, peel and all
  48. You can never have enough bread.
  49. The grass is always greener where you water it
  50. I’m a lot stronger than I ever imagined

#HowISeePC: Albania Photography

Here is a collection of some of my favorite photos that I have taken over the past two years in Albania.

The lady I bought most of my vegetables from in Kavaje.

The lady I bought most of my vegetables from in Kavaje.

We only have the freshest of meat in Albania.

We only have the freshest of meat in Albania.

Men playing their daily afternoon boardgames on make shift tables.

Men playing their daily afternoon boardgames on make shift tables.

Goats hanging out next to the sea.

Goats hanging out next to the sea.

A man walking around in old town Gjirokaster.

A man walking around in old town Gjirokaster.

A man collecting recyclables from the garbage cans in Berat.

A man collecting recyclables from the garbage cans in Berat.

A creepy doll hanging above a byrek shop in Gos.

A creepy doll hanging above a byrek shop in Gos.

A lady selling honey and raki elixir on the side of the road between Vlore and Himare.

A lady selling honey and raki elixir on the side of the road between Vlore and Himare.

One of the thousands of bunkers built across the country during communism.

One of the thousands of bunkers built across the country during communism.

An elderly couple having an afternoon conversation in Kavaje.

An elderly couple having an afternoon conversation in Kavaje.

Proper disposal of trash is still a huge environmental issue faced in Albania.

Proper disposal of trash is still a huge environmental issue faced in Albania.

Colorful balconies in Elbasan.

Colorful balconies in Elbasan.

A man charges people a small feee to take pictures with this bear in Durres.

A man charges people a small feee to take pictures with this bear in Durres.

Some sheep trying to escape the heat on a hot spring day in Kavaje.

Some sheep trying to escape the heat on a hot spring day in Kavaje.

A husband helping his bride after a photo-shoot at the amphitheater in Durres.

A husband helping his bride after a photo-shoot at the amphitheater in Durres.

My neighbors in the village of Pajove. They've gotten so big these past two years.

My neighbors in the village of Pajove. They’ve gotten so big these past two years.

An adorable kitten in Gjirokaster. There are a lot of kittens in the spring time because most street animals are not spayed or neutered.

An adorable kitten in Gjirokaster. There are a lot of kittens in the spring time because most street animals are not spayed or neutered.

Waving goodbye to daddy in the castle of Berat.

Waving goodbye to daddy in the castle of Berat.

Chicken dinner at my host family's house. It's fresh from the backyard.

Chicken dinner at my host family’s house. It’s fresh from the backyard.

Going on an afternoon trip in the rain.

Going on an afternoon trip in the rain.

My neighbor's flowers blooming in the spring. They smelled so good.

My neighbor’s flowers blooming in the spring. They smelled so good.

Traditional music during the trip to Kosovo with the Municipality of Kavaje.

Traditional music during the trip to Kosovo with the Municipality of Kavaje.

Moonrise over Mt. Tomorri.

Moonrise over Mt. Tomorri.

Children playing at the roma center in Berat.

Children playing at the roma center in Berat.

Seafood dinner in Kavaje.

Seafood dinner in Kavaje.

Sunset at the castle in Berat.

Sunset at the castle in Berat.

Another traffic jam.

Another traffic jam.

Genie land in Fier.

Genie land in Fier.

Ancient artifacts in Apollonia.

Ancient artifacts in Apollonia.

Dinner at my host family's house during my final visit back to their home as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Dinner at my host family’s house during my final visit back to their home as a Peace Corps volunteer.

More old men playing boardgames in my neighborhood.

More old men playing boardgames in my neighborhood.

A furgon and a bunker in Pogradec.

A furgon and a bunker in Pogradec.

A nice police officer that I met during a bike ride enjoying an evening snack.

A nice police officer that I met during a bike ride enjoying an evening snack.

A lone flower near the Durres amphitheater

A lone flower near the Durres amphitheater

This doll caught my eye because it reminds me of The Wizard of Oz.

This doll caught my eye because it reminds me of The Wizard of Oz.

Nuts, eggs, and spices for sale in Kelcyre.

Nuts, eggs, and spices for sale in Kelcyre.

There were sheep skinned alive and slaughtered on my walk to work.

There were sheep skinned alive and slaughtered on my walk to work.

Santa is keeping the evil eye away.

Santa is keeping the evil eye away.

More of the street art and mountain tea in an abandoned building down south.

More of the street art and mountain tea in an abandoned building down south.

A boat restaurant between Fier and Berat.

A boat restaurant between Fier and Berat.

The town of Himare at night.

The town of Himare at night.

The path to my host family's home.

The path to my host family’s home.

My Favorite Memories in Albania

My Peace Corps service and time in Albania is full of so many hilarious, crazy, sad, happy, exciting, and wonderful memories. My time spent here would not have been the same without some of the wonderful Albanians and Americans that I met along the way and I am thankful that we were able to create these memories together here. These people were my students, coworkers, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. Some people were strangers who took me under their care without asking for anything in return. They helped me when I was down, worked with me to volunteer in the community, and supported me throughout this journey. Every day in Albania was an adventure and I honestly never knew where each day would take me (and that is part of what made everything so exciting and interesting). I cannot begin to explain all of the wonderful memories from this country, but these are a few of my favorite memories from my past two years as a Peace Corps volunteer:

Finding the right eyebrow tweezers.

During my first few months in Albania while I was living in the village of Pajove during pre-service training I went on a hunt for some eyebrow tweezers. I forgot to bring a pair from America, so I decided to check out some beauty shops to find some new ones. I came across a small beauty shop in Pajove while searching, but I still had broken Shqip skills, so playing charades was common. As I was miming what I wanted to buy, the lady realized what I wanted. She took out the best pair in the shop and started tweezing my eyebrows herself to prove that they were indeed high-quality tweezers. So, I bought them.

Hiking Valbona to Thethi.

I’m a Colorado girl at heart, so I love my mountains. It was really quite a special experience to hike this mountain with some of my favorite Peace Corps volunteers. Even though it was foggy when we reached the summit, trekking down into Thethi was magical. Thethi is like something out of a magazine.

The view from our campsite in Thethi.

Surprise visit from my neighbor.

While my mom was in Albania I truly realized the extent of Albanian hospitality. Everyone wanted to meet my mom and take us out to show their respect for her and for me and my service. My neighbor Luci was very excited to meet my mom and one day invited us over for coffee… or so I thought. Instead Luci invited herself over to my house for coffee and I didn’t even realize it. I was so embarrassed because my house was a disaster and I did not have any caramels or drinks to offer her. Luci was really sweet and helped me be a good hostess by giving me some homemade juice that I could serve her and my mom.

My first surprise birthday party ever.

If you haven’t realized already, I worked with the most amazing group of students. They were all hard-working, creative, and smart individuals. I was extremely lucky to have so many awesome students (and friends). For my 25th birthday they coordinated a small party for me and our youth group students at a restaurant. There was dancing, food, and a delicious cake. I was so touched and happy because I had never been thrown a surprise birthday party before. That will be something that I never forget.

The entire group.

Free produce.

I created bonds with many of the vegetable vendors in my neighborhood. I was fortunate enough to literally live a minute away from the market road which had at least twenty different vendors selling produce daily, sometimes more on Sundays when all the villagers came into town to sell their goods. The olive man was always very sweet to me; he would always tell me that I’m a vajza e mire (good girl). He would ask me about my family and about my brother Steven. Sometimes he would even throw a few extra olives in with my purchases or give them to me completely for free. There was another woman who was always very sweet with me and would always give me the best deals on her goods. Whenever she saw me she’d call out to me oooohh Amerikane” (oh American)! She would tell everyone else around her sweet and beautiful I am and she’d refer to me as a little kukulla (doll).  She always got a kick out of me bringing my own plastic bags from home to reuse instead of taking new fresh bags.

Holding a baby goat for the first time.

There are so many cute farm animals roaming around in Albania and I always wanted to hold one. When I was on a bike ride to the beach with some of my students we happened to come across a shepherd with his flock. He was kind enough to let us all hold one of his baby goats and have a mini-photo shoot.

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Meeting my host family for the first time.

I think one of the most awkward moments of my entire time was when I was dropped off at my host family’s house to meet them for the first time. I still barely spoke a word of Shqip and no one except my host-sister Merushe spoke any English (and Merushe did not speak a lot of English). When I arrived my family took me into the kitchen area and made me a Turkish coffee. I sat on one couch and they sat on the other trying to ask me questions about whatever I could understand. There was a lot of uncomfortable laughing during the encounter. We sat there for a few hours trying to communicate the best we could before I finally conjured up enough Shqip to ask if I could go unpack my room. Later on that evening after dinner I tried to plug in my Eurosurge and took out the electricity to the entire home. I didn’t know how to explain myself and felt very bad, so I stayed hidden in my room until the next morning.

Having the electricity come back just in time for the OA Go Green Show.

The morning of our Outdoor Ambassadors Go Green show was supposed to be time for our final rehearsals before the show. The students had not fully gone through the entire show rehearsal prior, so they were going to run through the entire thing last minute the day of the show. Sadly those plans were quickly ruined when the electricity went out to the auditorium. After waiting several hours, the lights came back on just in time to let in the hundreds of screaming students waiting outside to see the show. The students ended up doing a great job and raising a lot of money for OA, despite the mishap beforehand.

The entire cast during the finale

Having to “prove myself” planting grape trees.

When I first arrived here I never really had any idea what I was getting myself into. One afternoon I thought I was going to coffee in the village with my host-sister Merushe, but it turned out we were going to plant grape trees in the hills behind our house. Of course I was not dressed appropriately, did not bring any water, and was not expecting to spend my one day off from training working in the fields. The sun was beating down on us and I was already pretty tired from climbing up the hills, but Merushe handed me a shovel and told me to “prove myself.” Quickly, they realized that I would not be too much help in the fields because I did not use the shovel the correct way and because I was far to slow. Either way, it was funny.

Co-facilitating a GLOW session at Kampi Pa Emer.

Last summer I had the opportunity to work at a wonderful camp in Librazhd coordinated by a former Peace Corps volunteer Joey and his Albanian wife Alba. The purpose of the camp is to bridge the gap between Roma and Albanian youth. Alba and I decided to co-facilitate a GLOW: Girls Leading Our World session about self-esteem. During the lesson we did an activity where one girl would sit in the front of the room and the other girls would tell her things that they liked about the participant. It was really powerful because the girls were genuinely caring about each other despite their difference in age, economic status, and background. Everyone had the chance to give and receive compliments from the other girls in the room. Then they made self-esteem flowers and presented them to the group. Each petal of the flower represented one thing that each girl liked about herself.

All the GLOW girls.

Traveling to Tirana for the first time with Mary.

Peace Corps always paired Mary and I up together. We were in the same village and they sent us to visit the same volunteer during volunteer visit. We were set to go up to Rreshen for our first time traveling around outside of our host village by ourselves. My host dad Buyar helped us get on this random furgon heading towards Durres and we were dropped off in the middle of the road near a market. Neither of us had any idea where we were going, but there was a random guy on the bus (who knew Buyar) who was going to help us a bit along the way. Then out of nowhere a random Tirana bus picked us up on the side of the road. Our random guardian got off the bus in Durres and then we were truly on our own. We ended up jumping off the bus in the middle of the street in Tirana because we had no idea where we were and when we should get off. We eventually found a city bus and just kept a look-out for the “pyramid” because that is where the volunteer told us to meet her. We kept our eyes peeled for this mysterious pyramid, but luckily the random city bus we got on dropped us off right in front. It was quite the adventure for our first time out by ourselves.

Finding an abandoned building full of street art and mountain tea.

While my dad and Nancy were in Albania we went on a tour of southern Albania. During our travels we found an abandoned building full of intricate street art and çaj mali (mountain tea). There isn’t much of a street art culture here, so we were surprised to find this random building in the middle of nowhere full of designs of bees and monsters. Also, it was strange to find a building full of tea. That was the most tea I have ever seen.

I still cannot believe I found this in Albania

When my blog went viral.

During my first summer at site I had no idea what my blog would eventually turn into. It started out as a way to just let my family and friends back home know what I was up to. It ended up becoming so much more when Albanians from across the country and people across the world read my 50 Unique Observations About Albania post. Having my blog go viral really allowed me the opportunity to express myself to a big audience, which has helped me grow professionally and personally through this experience.

Drinking beers on the beach with Chuck.

Chuck was a pretty amazing sitemate and we were able to complete several projects together for the community of Kavaja. During our free time we’d go on bike rides together to the beach. Chuck had a “regular” beach that he’d visit every afternoon and sometimes I’d even come along for the ride. It was nice to beat the summer heat on the beach with a cold beer and a good friend.

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Getting a ride into Tirana with Kate.

My sitemate Kate and I were trying to catch a bus to Tirana for our mid-service conference one afternoon, but we were not having much luck. It was annoying too because that day it was pouring rain. After waiting around for a while, a nice couple stopped and motioned for us to get in. Normally I don’t advocate for hitch hiking, but we were together and it was an older married couple so we felt like it’d be safe. The couple ended up being Albanians who live in Kosovo and they were in town visiting family and friends. They spoke some English and we were able to have an interesting cultural exchange on the hour and a half drive into the capital. They dropped us off right in front of our hotel so we wouldn’t have to walk in the rain anymore. It was really kind.

Attending my host sister’s engagement party.

My host-sister Merushe got engaged while I was living with the family. It was a surprise to me because she wasn’t even dating anyone as far as I knew, but a week after the announcement there was a giant party with half of the village in attendance. We spent the afternoon dancing valle, eating plates upon plates of meat, and drinking the endless supply of beers available. Every time my beer was finished it would be immediately replaced with a new cold beer. I have always wanted to go to an Albanian wedding (but sadly I did not have the opportunity), so I consider this party the next best thing.

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Making dinner with Quinn.

Almost every weekend I was able to see my boyfriend Quinn, another volunteer who lives in a different city. We’d spend our weekends having coffee, working on youth center projects, and creating new dinners with our limited resources. We’ve had some really good meals during the past year from tacos, to sushi, to Asian chickpeas. We would often use the coveted ingredients sent to me from my family in the states. Quinn is a better cook than I am, so it was always nice to actually eat a good meal for a change.

Seeing the fountain complete in the center of Kavaje.

A year ago the city of Kavaje tore out our entire main street and bulldozed numerous buildings across the city in order to refurbish the town center. I was a bit skeptical at first because it seemed like there wasn’t much of a method to all the madness. They tore out streets and sidewalks leaving no place for people to walk except through all the rumble and the construction. I was told that the center would be finished after a year and at first I just laughed because I didn’t believe it would actually happen. But dealing with all the annoying construction eventually paid off because the center was basically finished by the time I left Kavaje. They redid the entire center and put in a beautiful boardwalk for people to xhiro in at night and a lovely fountain to sit next to. I was very impressed.

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Muzik Shqip

I love Albanian music. Since I arrived here I loved jamming out to music in furgons and at my host family’s house. My host sister loved to blast music at all hours of the day while she cleaned the house, so I became pretty familiar with Albanian music from the beginning. There are several different genres of Albanian music, but folk music and pop music are the most popular. Pop music has a lot of rap and electronic influences. Folk music is still extremely popular and it varies from northern to southern Albania. Clarinets are often used in songs, along with the drum box, saxophone, and electric bass. I cannot wait to listen to Albanian music driving around in my car on road trips in the states. Here are some of my favorite Albanian pop songs:

Valle Kosovare – Shpat Kasapi

This is a famous traditional valle song that you will here at every wedding, party, etc. The dance moves to valle kosovare are a bit more complicated than some of the other valle songs that you’ll hear. This song is technically the Kosovo valle tune, but it is played often here in Albania.

Syte e Blu – Sinan Hoxha

The woman with blue eyes is what this song is focused on. Blue eyes are rare in Albania and they are prized. This one goes out to all the girls with elusive blue eyes.

E Imja Dashuri – Anila Mimani ft. Rati

I also know all the lyrics to this song because me and my boyfriend Quinn like to sing it to each other. It is another cutesy love song.

Ngjyra e kuq – Adrian Gaxha ft Floriani 

This song is about a woman who wears red perfectly. She makes all the men go crazy because of how beautiful she is in red. Even though everyone wants to have her, Adrian will give her his heart and will have her in the end.

Moj Kavaja Jone – Grupi i Kavajes

This is a song from the famous singing group in Kavaje that I have actually had the pleasure of meeting. They are singing about how wonderful Kavaje is.

Mrekullia e 8 – Alban Skenderaj

It wouldn’t be right to talk about Albanian music without mentioning heart throb Alban Skenderaj. This is another music video set inside a mall. Gotta love it.

Gili Gili – Sinan Hoxha 

I find this music video interesting because they are all dancing around inside the TEG near Tirana. The TEG is one of the only malls you can find in Albania.

Te Ka Lali Shpirt – Silvia Gunbardhi ft. Mandi ft. Dafi 

This song was really popular when I first arrived in Albania and you could hear it playing pretty much everywhere. The title literally translates to “Lali has you (in the) spirit).

Kuq e Zi – Sinan Hoxha ft Selda

Kuq e zi translates to red and black. Red and black are the colors of the Albanian flag. This song talks about Shqiperia e madhe (big Albania), which refers to how Albania used to include parts of the surrounding balkan territories.

Ku Ma Ke – Adelina

Another interesting music video and love song. The two in this song are not getting along and the woman is wondering where the man went and what went wrong.

Inshalah – Ingrid Gjoni

Inshalah means ‘god-willing’ in Arabic. As you can see in the music video this song is referring to the husband returning back to his home if god wills.

Xhamadani Vija Vija (Proud to be Albanian) 

Another Albanian nationalist song. Albanians are very proud and nationalistic. This song also refers to the idea of a bigger Albania.

Sa e Ke Numrin – Met 

My favorite teeny bob pop song. The boy is asking the girl for her phone number and her name because he is fixated with her.

Fol Shqip – Artiola & Poni

This song is titled Fol Shqip which translates to speak Albanian. I like the chorus of this song because it says, “speak Shqip because you are Albanian.”

Tavolina – Ermal Fejzullahu, LumiB, and Ledri Vula 

This song is a bit inappropriate. It is about a girl dancing on top of the table and partying.

Valle e Tropojes 

Another popular valle song to circle dance to. This song is from the region of Tropoja in northern Albania (a beautiful, more isolated region of the country).

Nese m’don ti – Blunt & Real ft. Ledri Vula 

Another party song from the one and only Blunt. To be honest I’m not totally sure what this song is discussing, but it has a catchy beat and I hear it often here.

Ti Se Din Se – Samanta ft. Onat

Another song about relationships. I really dig the outfits in this music video.

Kuq e Zi – Elvana Gjata ft. Flori

This song is extremely popular and nationalistic. It came out after the incident in Serbia during the soccer match last year. Quinn calls it the “football, riot, cheers” song.

Nje Moment – Blero ft. Maria 

A popular love song you will hear out at the clubs at night.

Vallja e Tiranes 

This is the valle and traditional dance of the region of Tirana. Kavaje is considered to be part of the region of Tirana. You can see the difference in traditional costume in the north vs. south if you check out the valle tropojes video above.

Kukulla – Sinan Hoxha ft. Seldi

This is another one I particularly enjoy. It’s about a girl who is being referred to as a doll, which is a term of endearment here.

Dordolec: Evil Eye Dolls

One of the first things I noticed when I came to Albania were all the random dolls, teddy bears, and scarecrows hanging outside of half finished buildings, doors, and homes. In Albania these dolls are meant to protect against the evil eye. I have been documenting them for the past two years in anticipation of sharing a blog post with you about this interesting tradition. To read more about dordolec check out this awesome blog that explains it much better than I can. Otherwise, feel free to check out some of the awesome dolls I have found across the country.

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