Friday, December 24, 2010

Tirana to Budapest, via train

I just got an amazing email, from my friend Rory on how to get from Tirana to Budapest by train (meaning much longer and cheaper). So if you want to know the ins and outs of this trek, see below



Mackin’ on Makedonia:

I took a furgon direct from Elbasan to the border for 800 leke.  I got ripped off, but not as much as a 25 euro bus will be to Struga.  From there I walked to Struga at least ¾ of the way.  You can try taking a taxi for 5 euros or you can see if a man named Slobodan in an old Yugo will give you a ride. 

Buses leave for Skoje at 11am and possibly 14:00, and the last one for sure leaves at 17:30.  It will arrive in Skopje at 20:50, which is bad because the train is scheduled to leave at 20:45.  It won’t, but buying the Balkan pass will take a long time. 

Buying the Balkan Pass:
It will cost 51 euros, payable only in Macedonian currency.  The exchange at the station WILL rip you off, so maybe try for a bancomat nearby or take our cash-money in Struga/Ohrid.I know that they know computers exist, and I know they know how to use them, but I am convinced they just don’t like them.  This will be slow for you, so try not to arrive at the last minute.  On the train, the seats fold down and make beds, so you guys can commandeer a cabin to yourselves, and fold the seats down and have three soft beds.  Do that, or else an old Serbian man or a Gypsy family will enter while you’re sleeping and use your legs as a pillow. 

Belgrade: I am hoping that you’ll arrive within a few minutes to spare to catch the train to Budapest.  If you have extra time, this is great and you can change money or buy any necessary tickets you may need.  Read below for more info. 

The Hungarian border:
This is the last frontier, and in my opinion the most frustrating and god-forsaken.  You Balkan Pass will get you as far as Subotica, which is right at the border.  You have three options:

1. You can stay on the train and go through customs and then arrive in Kelebia and arrive in Hungarian customs, where you will then have to get off the train and buy your ticket.  This will save you the crossing fee of about $10. Otherwise, the Hungarian conductor will get on at Subotica and will check to see if you have the correct ticket. They will not accept the Balkan Pass and will charge you the extra $10.  If they catch you, the jig is up.  Don’t fight it and don’t be rude or they will place a fine on your ass.  The best idea is to act like you were expecting them to arrive and then buy your ticket to Budapest from them at the inflated price.  Since none of you are packin’ Hungarian money, it will be hard for you to easily buy the ticket once in Kelebia.  There is a bank down the street from the train station but I can’t guarantee you’ll make it in time and the whole thing could blow up in your face and you’ll have to de-train in Kiskörős because the conductor is a total assface and wants to rip you off because you’re from the West so as soon as the train stops you grab your stuff and run past him and then wait two hours for another train.  I do not recommend this option unless you love the thrill of the fight.  Incidentally, I do.

2. The other option is to get off at Subotica and buy your ticket to BP there.  The price will be 15 euros, payable only in Serbian money.  If you catch the 7am train from Belgrade, then you should arrive at 11 and you may need to wait for the next train to take you to BP two hours later because you’ll have tofind a bank, get Serbian dinar, and then come back and buy your ticket.  If all works out in which you can do all this in time to get back on the same train, great, but I would not count on it.  The variant to this is that your train into Belgrade will be late by more than the usual 3 hours and you’ll miss your train and take the 10am one to Subotica.  If you do this, then everything gets shifted forward again and the next train that you can catch to Budapest will not arrive at my house but rather in a suburb of Budapest called Kőbánya-Kispest.

3. You have a third option, and that is to take the tiny commuter train to Szeged from Subotica.  This takes TWO HOURS and is bumpy and depressingly ghetto, but I like it.  From there you can take a $15 train to Budapest, arriving at Budapest-Nyugati station.  This is right next to where I work.  There are two trains from Subotica to Szeged per day.  One at 11am and one at 14:35.  The last train from Szeged to BP leaves at 19:45, and many go earlier than that. 

Let me condense some advice.

1.       Get to Skopje on an earlier train so that you may have time to change money and buy your ticket.
2.       If you have time, buy your ticket from Subotica to Budapest in Belgrade, and use your credit card.
3.       If you arrive in Subotica later than 12pm, take the commuter train to Szeged and then a later train to Budapest.  The Hungarians will take credit cards in Szeged, but not in Kelebia. 
4.       If you buy your ticket to Budapest in Subotica, buy a round-trip ticket, because it will be more expensive in Hungary.


****As a side I just reached 3,632 views!!!! wow! you guys rock!




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!


I'll be spending christmas in Shkoder with volunteers and albanians alike! Shortly thereafter I'll be heading to Budapest to round out the holiday season! I'm wishing my friends, family and blogger buddies a very special holiday season!!!


I've been hearing such wonderful new from friends and family back home, i can't help but think this season is particularly magical! 


Missing you all!


Edit- I learned something fun about Albanian culture from one of my students--on Christmas Eve they only eat fish (no meat) as part of a fast...similar to the Serbians I believe! A little 'food for thought' pun intended! 


xoxo
jenny d

Saturday, December 18, 2010

the first snow



LEZHE-Yesterday was the first (and likely the last) snowfall of the season. The air was magical as the streets were lined with snowballs and no person young, old or foreign was safe!! The pure, white snow invoked a joyous atmosphere for all. It was truly intoxicating. 
As quickly as the snow had decorated the city, it was washed away by the rain that followed. BUT ohhhh was it nice while it lasted. I hope all of you are enjoying your holiday season!


happy holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

i have a lot

to tell you all. last week i was evacuated from lezhe because of serious flooding in the shkoder/lezhe districts of albania. im uninspired as of today, so look for a post on that later this week. i will say im safe and sound (as are the other volunteers) and we all returned to our prospective sites yesterday.


Today i want to challenge you all to perform a random act of kindness in your community. you dont have to join the peace corps to make a difference! it can be anything! open a door, call your mom, help pick up spilled milk, give a hug to someone who looks like they need it! everyday there is an opportunity to make the world a better place, so why not start today? report back if you like!



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

part of a pcv's job is helping to create resources,

this is an example of a nutrition leaflet (page 1) i created with funding from world vision



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

happy thanksgiving!


Happy thanksgiving!!! i saw this and thought it was funny, maybe because i'm a vegetarian?? I miss you all and hope you have a wonderful day with family, friends and good food! I'll be thinking of you!


I'm going to tirana tomorrow to spend the holiday with new pc staff and pcvs. then off to burrell for another turkey day celebration with other volunteers! it will be themed, i think im going to go as Pocahontas, so look for pics!


miss and love you all!


edit: a pic from our turkey day

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

here is an example of why

you have to be on your toes at all times in albania. in america if you are going to serve on a panel in front of a large audience, television crew with the mayor and the head of vodafone albania, you would not only KNOW that that was going to occur, but you would have a speech prepared...this may not make sense so ill elaborate a bit...
here is a timeline of events a la '24' (tv show):
Friday, 3PM  i receive a text asking me if i would attend a meeting on monday for special olympics (an event i partook in over the summer)
Friday, 4PM i agree to come to the MEETING
Saturday-Sunday at a leadership/ environmental conference in Elbasan
Monday, 6AM wake up and take furgon to Tirana
9AM barely make bus to lezhe
1045 drop off oversized backpack to local pharmacist because i don't have time to go back to my house (meaning also no time to shower, change or brush teeth)
11 arrive at meeting.
1101, i realize that 'holy crap this is a huge community presentation'
1105, im asked to say a few words in shqip about my experience
1106 mayor, and camera crews enter conference room.
1107 i notice a table in the front of the room complete with standing name plaques of panel participants
1108 im beckoned up to the front of the room--im currently furiously writing my speech trying to remember the past tense for enjoyed in albanian
1109 i realize that MY NAME IS ONE OF THE NAMES ON THE PANEL TABLE...what??!!!...IM A PANEL MEMBER?!!!!!!
1110 mayor makes eloquent speech
1111 heart thumping, i stand up and start speaking (with a video camera and crew in my face, i don't think they've figured out the zoom function yet). i say something about being a volunteer, living in lezhe and that it was one of my best volunteering experiences not only in  albania but in my lifetime....blah blah blah say something in english, then sit down. 
1135, i walk out of the building and a few tears escape my lids. not because i had done badly or that i was even sad, but simply because public speaking is a fear of mine, but public speaking in shqip is my worst nightmare.  


so yea things work a little differently here! but it was good practice and i have learned an important lesson: never attend a meeting without proper grooming, you may end up on TV!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holy moly

119 views in one day!! That's a new record! Thank you all for checking in:o)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

current volunteers were

asked to give advice to the incoming group! here is what i came up with (i figured i would post it in case there are pcv-ers looking at my blog who are not going to albania): I was one of those people who never read the “Advice from Volunteers” section of the "Welcome Book" before coming to Albania. I remember sitting at staging in Philadelphia with eight other trainees, as a discussion of packed items commenced. One girl began with “obviously you brought a sleeping bag right? And you did weigh your luggage before you left? Seasonings? Or seeds to plant herbs? At the VERY LEAST you have an external hard drive? NO EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE”?!With every utterance of baggage contents I felt less and less prepared to take on the two years abroad. Trying to defend my ill prepared self, I mumbled, “It would have been nice to have a G13 facebook group”. The table fell silent for a moment. Then one by one I began hearing “You didn’t join the facebook group”?!
I shrugged and sputtered something like “oh I must have missed it”. I walked away from that conversation feeling absolutely deflated, thinking I should just cash in my ticket and take a small vacation. But I didn’t give up and when I arrived in Albania, I realized that yes, a sleeping bag is very necessary and that a hard drive would have been divine, but you get one sent or adopt one from a volunteer and life goes on. My best advice is to enjoy the time you have with your family, friends and good food (food is rather bland over here). Chances are if you’ve come this far in the application process you are going to do great things!  I can say without a doubt that the most important tools you possess cannot be found in that 100-pound, gorilla suitcase of yours.
Now that I’ve gotten my philosophical cheesiness out of the way, I’ll give-way to those type A-ers out there. You know who you are. Probably skimming this paragraph, looking for a checklist of items to bring while thinking “but really what do I bring to Albania”?
Here is a quick list I’ve compiled- durable shoes (my shoes came here to die), a sleeping bag that packs down, a smaller backpack for weekend trips, a flash light, tide to go pen/tide packets for host family life, pictures of family. If you like planners buy one (they are hard to find out here), winter jacket, cards (UNO), head lamp (power outages), lotion (expensive), pocketknife, duct tape, ipod touch (by no means necessary but its great for checking an email on the go/ taking photos/videos/ stores music etc). Plenty of socks (wool and exercise), underwear, magnets -I hate a naked fridge, travel towel, camera, jump rope, resistance band, workout videos (I use to make fun of them too), new running shoes, flip-flops for shower time/ summer, hair dryers for the winter (girls, or guys with flowing locks), warm sweats and lots of layers. If you have a Mac computer, and plan on doing presentations with projectors get a ‘mini display port to vga adapter’. I also bought an 'on the go charger' that has all attachments one could yearn for and if you own something you want to charge and the attachment doesn’t come with it, the company will send it for free. There are also discounts available to you (on backpacks etc) as a PCV, do research and ask around! 
Girls-bring those blazers, pencil skirts, scarves, nice slacks, cute flats, one pair of heels etc. Women dress to impress here. You might think I’m crazy for the first three months but when you get to your permanent site and go to an office everyday you will see what I mean.
Plug adapters for albania are two-pronged; if you have a choice between thicker two-prongs and thinner two-prongs, go for the latter.
One of my daily annoyances is that I deal with change all day everyday. My first wallet here was more bill than coin friendly. It’s a little thing, but if you have a change pouch in your wallet you will be better off.
One last thing, I remember being extremely nervous about living with a host family. I was literally shaking while walking up to greet my host mom. I had planned on introducing myself in Albanian; instead I blanked, laughed nervously and stared inquisitively while saying “Jennifer”. Can you say awkward? Excuse me stranger, I’m just going to put my fifty pounds worth of luggage in this room… and yup I’ll be here for the next three months!! I’m not going to lie, the first Sunday of host family stay was the longest day of my life.  But it gets easier and one day you wake up and are able to say “I’m hungry.  Me going to school now. Cold”. A few weeks after that you’ll walk in the house and think “hey guys I’m home, what’s for dinner”? My host family has become just plain family. They illustrated the feelings were mutual when I was invited to all aspects of my host brother’s three-day wedding—I even helped dress the bride!  When I need support and family time, I go visit them. They are wonderful people and with any luck you will have a similar experience!

Paç Fat (good luck)!

No this isn't me, stole it from a blog. tehe.

Eeek. I’m sorry I’ve neglected you!

 But I HAVE an excuse…sly nudge of foot…I’m busy! I have a few new projects up and running that I’d like to tell you about…
Today we are having another breast cancer information session, fully equipped with a translated self-breast exam video! This presentation- unlike last month- is geared towards the Roma community (minority population in Albania). Bardha (the oncologist I worked with for the BC walk) and I are teaming up with Laura and her counterpart to make things happen! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Later today I have a meeting with World Vision (an NGO in Lezhe) to launch a new project. Next week we will be visiting a local high school, asking a group of students to create and distribute a survey gauging current problems with their school. Questions will hopefully include, what change in infrastructure/resources would you like to see if you had a grant to do so (think new library, school yard, heat etc)? We will then select a smaller group of students to collect and analyze the questionnaire data. From there the students will learn how to write a project proposal/ grant for the desired project. We will help them create a project cycle timeline in addition to researching and applying for funding sources ( these include NGO's in Lezhe, local business and banks). The project will conclude with the implementation of the proposed project. I think this project perfectly exemplifies the saying "BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE"! I am super stoked about this project and cannot wait to hear the ideas the students come up with, as I am continually impressed with the youth of this country.
Yesterday I had a meeting with the Mayor and Special Olympics staff. We are going to have events and activities for the Special Olympics contestants (from Lezhe) leading up to the actual event in June. Having been a volunteer for Special Olympics this past summer, I’m looking forward to offering suggestions on how to improve the event, as well as working with team Lezhe! *As a side note during this meeting an employee from the Bashkia (think city hall) went on this 30-minute diatribe about the importance of preserving the pure Albanian language (after a Special Olympics representative used a Turkish word). He began spewing examples of Turkish words that have infiltrated the Albanian language. I piped in and offered the Turkish saying “avash, avash” which means slowly, slowly, or with time and the people sitting next to me were shocked. They stared suspiciously and said, “you understand”? HAHA. Point 1 for Jen, woot.
Lastly on Friday, Laura and I are taking three high school students to an Outdoor Ambassadors leadership conference in Elbasan (we are both OA shadow committee members). I’m really looking forward to getting to know our girls better! Not to mention it is an incredible opportunity for them. We are hoping this fuels our official kick-off to our local Outdoor Ambassador club (OA).

Word. Well I have to go work now, sigh. Wish me luck!



Friday, November 12, 2010

pa vize (without visa)

This week marks a historic victory for Albania.-citizens can travel anywhere in Europe without a visa! This may seem like 'no biggie' to those of us born and bread in the US. We take the ability to travel anywhere, anytime--with few exceptions and monetary constraints--as a birth given right. For Albanians this was not the case for nearly a century, having been a closed communist society, followed by a democratic society with a plethora of travel restrictions. in order to study, live, work or travel abroad, they had to endure a stringent application process. if one had the opportunity to study abroad, he or she would have to apply months in advance, fill out paperwork (more than i did applying for college), pay fees, visit the ministry in tirana, notarize documents and battle through red tape and hoops.  my friend fatjon (pronounce fat-e-on...not fat-john, although that would be cool) was accepted into a prestigious international relations program in Spain. He jumped the hoops, applied on time, and was still denied the proper visa when it came time for him to move. Luckily he was able to rectify the situation (for a pretty penny) but others were not so lucky. thus this feat is truly a momentous occasion for Shqiperia.


the opportunity to travel the world and see cultures, religions, infrastructure and governmental institutions different from their own may inspire Albanians to make some changes at home (i.e. trash problems, womans rights etc). i know from personal experience that being away from home both confounds and confirms my own ideals and beliefs. i know i will be a greater contributer to society (in america) once i return from my volunteer experience abroad. in my opinion, this a monumental step forward for Albania.


tonight there will be a celebration in tirana, i will not be able to attend (i'm going to visit my host family). if i get my hands on some pictures i will post them!


here is a better written article on the visa liberalization if you're so inclined visa visa

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

i decided to make a video

from yesterdays grammar scavenger hunt. the filming is horrible (i was more concentrated on teaching than shooting) and the overall product is "wonderfully cheesy" as laura put it. but what is life without cheese? without cheese there would be no burritos. without burritos there would be no good mexican food. without good mexican food there would be no california, or mexico. eeekk who could survive in such a world?! 

For your daily dose of bad camera angles and cheese put that mouse HERE
NOTE: due to another project in lezhe most of our students are notably absent.

health (primary assignment) activities

I was asked to describe some of the health activities i have run thus far--here is a quick list!

Activity One (pst)-Began the lesson on Drunk Driving with a pre-test (to see how much the students knew at the beg. of the lesson). Delivered powerpoint on the dangers of drunk driving, later we had the students come up and put on a pair of sunglasses that were covered in vaseline. we asked the students to juggle three balloons. the objective of this activity was to simulate drunk driving...and it was pretty entertaining.We ended with a post-test.
Activity two (pst)- with kindergardeners we talked about germs and the ways in which you can get germs. we showed the transfer of germs threw hand shaking/ high fives (amiee drew a great picture of a germ and taped it to our hands) i initiated the chain reaction, i displayed my germ infested hand, then shook brea's hand who then showed her germ-y hand, who then shook amiee's hand etc. after that we put vaseline on all of the students hands, and coffee (germs) on four of the students hands. we had the children shake each other's hands until all of the kids had germs/coffee. then we brought in our water filter and soap and had all of the kids wash their hands for thirty seconds.
Activity three- sun exposure (my site is located near the beach), power point followed by activity in which i had made different sun accessories (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc) and a picture of a woman. i read aloud scenarios--jane is going to the beach, what should she bring, and had the participants place different items on the model. afterwards we discussed which items would be necessary in order to protect oneself from sun damage. 
Activity four- breast cancer, march to create awareness, powerpoint, had oncologist speak about breast cancer and how to perform a self-breast exam. had breast models in different stages of cancer (different sized lumps) so that the woman could practice doing a self exam on the models and recognize what a lump feels like. 
Activity five-done with high school girls, talking about mental health, showed a clip of mean girls and proceeded to talk about self esteem and ways in which you can cope with different situations

Here are some pics of the aforementioned activities

one woman at the sun exposure activity decided to be the model for our accessories! 

 drunk driving- balloons-girl pictured is wearing vaseline glasses, very disorienting
  hand wash activity 
teaching dance
 germ activity, playing catch-demonstrating different ways to spread germs
Breast Model 

Monday, November 8, 2010

my current facebook status

spent four hours last night without power--assuming it was a citywide power outage-- I read by flashlight and ate sprinkles. Around 9 PM I got real hungry so I walked outside and realized my landlords house (five feet away) had power...fml.


sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself :)

weekly english class

Above is a pic of me and a few of my students

I'm not sure if  I've mentioned that Laura and I teach a weekly english class to ten high school students. It has quickly become something i look forward to each week. The students are really awesome and I think they enjoy our creative ways of teaching (creative thinking is routinely discouraged in Albanian schools). As the weeks go by, I can see the students being more comfortable with one another and they have begun to let loose--being silly and allowing themselves to be creative while learning english. I thought I would share some of the activities that have been successful with our group for all of you TFL-ers/teachers out there!

Activity one- boggle, don't know what that is? click here. it was a fun way to expand vocabulary and to see what words our students already know. It also presented an opportunity to differentiate between words that sound similar/ have similar meanings.
Activity two- Rihanna is veryyy popular here, so I took one of her songs with a positive message, and had them take a look at the lyrics. We discussed the overall message and the use of imagery and metaphors to express the feelings of the artist. After we listened to the song ( I took one of those youtube videos that have the song and lyrics). The students enjoyed the song more so, when they understood what the artist was trying to convey.
Activity three- Playing store--we had students go up in pairs (one playing the store keeper and the other the customer) to act out a store transaction, including greetings, questions of merchandise, pricing, bargaining, availability etc. One student would inevitably 'buy' a product (stapler, books, sunscreen etc) and the next group would go up and act out the same scenario. This activity was facilitated in order to create a real-life situation they might find themselves in if they were to live in the states ( a lot of the students aspire to working and studying abroad), as well as expansion of vocabulary.
Name games- good first day activity, my name is jumping jen, while i jump, or happy henry while he smiles. Tying an adjective or verb that starts with the first letter of your name Jen starts with J so does the verb jump,  and an action that goes with the verb, physically jumping. Have everyone introduce themselves in this fashion, then have all of the students go around and say each others name/word/action. Its a great way to learn names, repetition equals success in the terms of long term potentiation. 
Activity five- We have a problem with students and the copying of ideas, so we tried this-- We assigned all of the students to come into class with one word they really liked in english (something that sounds funny--jello, juggle). When they came in we wrote all of the words  they came up with on the board, and had the group break up into groups of two. Then we had them make up a story using all of the words on the board. When you have words like monkey, baby and flower, stories are bound to be creative!
Activity Six- Plot graph/ dramatic structure  dénouement we demonstrated this idea using a local legend, Rozafa. Laura wrote the different events of the story and had the students place them in order and relating to the rising action, climax, denouement etc. It was a great way for the students to practice their english (in retelling a story they know well in english) and story telling abilities.

Im on a serious caffeine high and cant concentrate any longer! So if you like these ideas and want to hear more, let me know in the comments section! This week we are going to try a grammar scavenger hunt! I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

a lil inspiration

here is the song i did for the talent show

i hope you guys like it as much as i do--music to my ears

Monday, November 1, 2010

2,100 views

and climbing. THANK YOU!!!

waiting for a download

my ma just sent me a new ipod touch--i lost my ipod in italy--and im waiting for the new version of itunes to load in a kafe. i thought i would give you guys a quick update!
I went to Elbasan for language refresher (exactly what it sounds like).  Alana and I were chosen out of the health sector to present a session on sector specific vocabulary. We decided to do a dialogue/ session  based on Breast Cancer/words surrounding the topic (as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month). We delivered this session twice, the second class went much better than the first. We came up with an activity on the spot in which we placed the new vocabulary words on the back of each pcv. After which we directed them to ask questions in shqip to one another in order to figure out which vocabulary word/phrase they were. It was pretty entertaining considering some phrases included sores, armpit, self-breast exam, etc. After the session my language teacher approached me and said that she was very proud. It made me feel really good to know that we had done well and that my language skills are progressing...somedays it feels otherwise!
I also did a dance for the talent show, to James Morrison's version of "Man in the Mirror". It was fun to share something that is so much a part of me with the other volunteers. Peace Corps is hard in that you get to know people in Albania without having any context for who they were/are at home. It was cool to be able to share my passion with everyone. Afterwards people came up and gave me a lot of encouraging sentiments. I heard "you were in your element" a few times. And that is exactly how i feel when i dance. I am so happy and at home when i perform. It gave me a new push to start dance classes in Lezhe (an idea I have been toying with for a few months now).
So overall the conference went really well and we finished out by going to Berat for Halloween. It was a lot of fun. I dressed up as an Albanian bride--the wedding culture here is huge. So here are some photos! Hope you like it! 
and thank you to my ma for the halloween cards/ stickers/ ipod/ wonderful package! hugs!

 Kate Proposing
I think you guys can get this joke on your own...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

new youtube

i dont know if you guys will find this interesting, but i thought i would share which countries my views are coming from--US (duh), Albania (mire), Canada, South Korea, Australia, Slovenia, Japan, Bulgaria, Denmark and Greece. international relations at a micro level. who knew my I.R. degree would actually be applied?! haha.


here is the new video--how'd it go?






Friday, October 22, 2010

not pc related

on a personal note, im a coffee addict (luckily albanians are too) and im always browsing through webmd--they have a lot of great nutrition and health articles. today i found a legitimate justification for my caffeine addiction

"Coffee: A growing number of studies suggest that coffee has several surprising health benefits. Along with potentially lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, consumption of coffee may reduce the risk of age-related mental decline.



The latest evidence, from a Finish study of 1,409 volunteers published in theJournal of Alzheimers Disease in 2009, found that people who regularly drank coffee during their middle-aged years were significantly less likely to suffer dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life. Those who drank three to five cups daily had a 65% reduction in risk."
bottoms up!
To read the entire article click here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breast cancer walk

went exceedingly well! i will post a longer entry later, but for now i have pics, so enjoy! Lezhe Breast Cancer Walk


Also i have a new youtube video, it's atrociously long! so please dont feel obligated to watch the whole thing!
a good day

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

i have fans :)

i just got an awesome note from Fjolla in British Columbia! She said that i was an inspiration to her. Today you are mine! thank you so much for your support it keeps me motivated! i really appreciate it!


i hope you keep following along!


in other news the breast cancer walk is tomorrow! i still have so much to do, but i put up 30 or so posters today (i know so last minute, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow) and i'm going to make about a million pink ribbons tonight!


did i mention to you all that i wrote and received my first grant? it was a small GAD (gender and development) grant but it will be enough to fund the walks posters, refreshments, a banner, and ribbons! with any luck i can use the remainder of the money for a beach clean up!


ok that was random but you get the point! off to find safety pins!

Monday, October 18, 2010

work in progress

hey guys! I'm gearing up for my breast cancer walk on thursday! so much to do in three days! eek. any who i wrote this and have yet to post it, so enjoy! i'll update with pics and a story after thursday! miss you all!

Advice for volunteers—
I’ve become slightly obsessed with checking my stats for my blog; blogspot has a cool feature that indicates where your traffic comes from (i.e. facebook, a link posted etc) and ive noticed that a few of my onlookers are coming from pc blogs. Meaning that some visitors are most likely waiting in anticipation for their official invitation (the pc acceptance process is very competitive and can take years).

Anyhow I know I looked on a few blogs before I left and it really helped ease some of my fears.  I remember wondering what the hell is Albania like?! I mean besides its general location and the information the “cheers” song had to offer (click here) I was lost.

So without further ado here are my survival tips-
-DON’T STOP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO! For me dance, outdoor activities and photography are some of my passions and the weeks I don’t partake in these activities I can feel my spirit deflating.
-Find projects that you’re genuinely interested in. when you first go to site you might say ‘yes’ to every project that approaches you, but after you settle in a bit, its ok (and necessary) to be picky.
-Keep up with people at home. Both of my parents call me every Sunday and I call my bro every Thursday (well power outages and internet availability contingent). Not to mention I keep regular emails with close friends and obviously facebook that little network site (it’s a shame more people don’t use it) is helpful…Anyhow remembering what a great support network you have at home is really rejuvenating. –Nest. When you finally get a place of your own (post host family life) make it yours! Put up pictures, dress that naked fridge, kill those fleas (sorry libby I had to), and make it homey. You will (with a little luck and mental strength) be there for 2 years so why not have fun with it?! *For me this is my first apartment that I have lived in, completely by my lonesome, so at night I tend to keep myself busy to fight the blues/freak-ness monsters.
-find people in the community to be your family. Laura and I had the pleasure of being introduced to a local pharmacists (by Bethany and Leslie the PCV’s that recently finished their service) and he has been so generous to us. He is like our Albanian father!
-Sitemate love! If you are lucky enough to have a sitemate, make sure to be supportive of one another! Some days are good, some suck –be there for one another and both of your experiences will be better!
-Have no shqip/work zones! Being a pcv is said to be a 24-hour job, and it REALLY is! Your reputation in a community is very important so what you do, how you act, whom you have over, or coffees with is taken into consideration and talked about. When im traveling to a different site I often get asked why im here and what America is like, this type of exchange is one of the three peace corps goals…so it can feel like your always ‘on stage’ so to speak. Take a hour/weekend/week/room for an absence of this stress. It can be exhausting!
-vent. That sounds stupid but when you have had a crappy week take time to talk about it with people at home or a good friend in-country.
- know you are not alone. Its easy to feel isolated and alone, but go back and read inspiring emails, books, quotes and know that other pcv’s are going through the same stressors all over the world. You are not alone!
-on packing (Albania specific)—sleeping bag (I didn’t bring one uugh but peter left me a super cozy one)! Nice work clothes, durable shoes, dresses for the summer (girl specific), layers—there is no central heating, warm lounge clothing, jump ropes/resistance bands/exercise equipment that’s easy to pack, external hard drive, camera, ipod, sunglasses, umbrella, back pack for weekend trips, swiss army knife, one pair of work shoes or heels, a nice dress you can wear to weddings (you will definitely be going to at least one, the wedding culture here is out of control), note cards (for studying), spices, if you have a mac a projector cord, flash lights, alarm clock, hand sanitizer, warm socks, running shoes, house shoes (although you can get those here for 200 leke ~2 dollars), scarves, contact information for people at home, a planner, markers, and well you get the point! Don’t freak out too much about packing, people can always send things and you can buy second hand stuff here for super cheap!
-MY LAST AND MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE, NEVER EVER EVER SEND A PACKAGE THROUGH FEDEX. EVER. REGULAR POST IS BEST. FLAT RATE BOXES ARE SWEET BECAUSE PARENTS AND FRIENDS CAN STUFF THOSE BABIES FULL!

Ok well that’s all I have to offer for now!