I now have been in Prishtina for three months. I am surprised by how quickly and effortlessly the time has passed. Yes, there have been some challenges and frustrations, but fortunately they have been outweighed by the many positive experiences I have had.
Here are my impressions at the mid-point in my venture:
- Barring the unusually difficult weather we had in January, life here in Prishtina is quiet, pleasant, comfortable, safe, and affordable. I understand why some foreigners visit and decide to remain.
- The negatives are obvious and indisputable: air pollution, roads and transportation, unemployment, public health, smoking everywhere, etc.
- Kosovo is a secular state. While Islam provides the historic and cultural context and is visibly present throughout, it doesn’t seem to inundate life the way that evangelical Protestantism does in the Bible Belt.
- I am so impressed by and so enjoy working with my students. They are bright, inquisitive, passionate, and very vocal. Because I am not caught up in the political bureaucracy here, I can do what I love and do best: teach and direct students.
- I am perplexed by the lack of communication and interaction with both the Faculty (college) and the Embassy. Still, I much prefer this “hands off” treatment to being micromanaged.
- While I studied four foreign languages in college, I still cannot get the swing of Albanian, which utterly frustrates me. In three months, I’ve mastered only a handful of essential phrases and possess a vocabulary of fewer than 50 words.
- What I enjoy most about the Kosovars is their lack of pretension and entitlement. People who have lived through war just don’t worry about most of the petty stuff we obsess over as Americans.
- Still, the OCD in me craves better communication, efficiency, and transparency. How anything here gets done remains a mystery to me.
- I believe now, more than ever, that when you look for good, you find good; when you look for bad, you find bad.
- I am glad and feel blessed to have this opportunity, and I look forward to my next three months.