- Taking leftover food home from restaurants doesn’t seem to be common here. However, my host family has two dogs, so I’ll ask for a to-go bag if I have meat left on my plate. I was at a restaurant with my host family for the first time a few weeks ago. When I asked for a to-go bag, my host mother told the waiter, “She’s American.” Haha. Always nice to embarrass the host family.
- Even when I speak in Shqip, people have a hard time understanding me (even when I know I’m saying something correctly). (Perhaps people need to practice their sympathetic listening skills … just sayin’.) There have been a few instances where I’ll say something and my host mother is the only one who understands what I am trying to say. Awww. Living with a host family can be challenging at times, but at least my host mother makes an effort to talk to and understand me. 🙂
- Kosovo has a very touchy-feely culture. The clasp broke on a necklace I was wearing, and I peered down my collar to see if the pendant had fallen under my shirt. Suddenly, I had two extra pairs of hands patting me down.
- Our school is heated with wood stoves. I saw one of my fifth graders casually throw another log onto the fire as he headed out the door. I thought, “That would never happen in America. A child would never be allowed near an open flame.” They make ’em tough in Eastern Europe.
- Three times now, cab drivers have mistaken me for being Italian. The following conversation took place in Shqip:
Cab Driver: “I don’t speak Italian. I can speak German, but not Italian.”
Me: “I’m not Italian. I’m American.”
Cab Driver: “Are you Albanian-American or just American?”
Me: “Just American.”
Cab Driver: “Are you a tourist?”
Me: “No, I live here.”
(I can tell the Cab Driver’s mind is blown.)
Me: “I’m a teacher. I live in (name of my village).”
Cab Driver: “Are you married?”
Me: “No. I live with a host family.”
(Cab Driver appears bemused.)
You can read about my previous experiences as an American in Kosovo here.