Ten days have passed now since our group of ten volunteers from Germany came from our cold home country to the sunny mediterrean Albania. For many of us, the country was, to be honest, until then like a white dot on the landscape of Europe! Albania only began to open for influence from other parts of Europe after it struggled free from communist regime about 20 years ago, so this might be one explanation for our limited knowledge of this country. Still, from our first steps outside the airplane, this place had many wonderful surprises for us.
At first I was astonished how big the Italian influence is here. The shape and pastel colours of the houses make you think of Italy, as well as the smell of Oleander (which seems to be everywhere) and the landscape in general. But one can also find influences from many other cultures here, becausae Albania had a whole bbunch of foreign rulers. The Greek and the Turkish have stayed here for quite a while, so they also left ther footprint in music, language, food, etc…. This makes the country so interesting in my opinion! I was also extremely surprised how open people here are for other countries, and how much they know, for example, about my own country (whereas I hardly know anything about theirs before)…
Many other volunteers that we got to know through the organisation Beyond Barriers told us about what they think about Germany in comparison toAlbania. They love our system of education and when I told the Albanian girl Ornela that Germans also always complain about politics, she said that we really had nothing to complain about. And really, in Albania, it is extremely hard to go to University, if your parents dont earn so much. On the other hand, when I compare the two countries, I really have to say that I admire the Albanian life style. When you walk through Tirana in the evening, you will find that Albanians are such a sociable people. After 4 oclock, everyone is gathering outside in one of the thousand cafes, or just on some benches or little walls. The children are playing, the grandmothers chatting, the men play board games and yung people have their coffee together (or watch the european championship, the Albanians are great football fans). This is such a nice way to spend your afternoon, i really like it!
All in all, we volunteers have been enjoying our time very much so far, and we are especially excited, when tomorrow our work with disabled children begins!
Until next time!