June Landscape

I’ve been doing a photo project where every month, I post a photo that I think captures the “spirit” of that month. Here’s June’s:

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If you’re interested to see other photos I’ve taken over the years (not just in Kosovo), you can check out my weebly photo gallery.

Also, several people have asked about my trip to the U.S. I’ll be posting about it Friday!

Photo Project: Graveyard

“Every day, a little death.” — Stephen Sondheim

I pass by this graveyard whenever I take the bus into Pristina. (And I took these photos from the bus, so I apologize for the poor quality.)

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I wondered if the cages are to keep stray dogs from digging up the bodies. After asking around, it seems my guess is correct.

Last Thursday, I talked a bit about the differences between how Americans and Kosovars view/value animals. I can understand why people here are wary of stray dogs. Still, I am hopeful these attitudes can and will change over time.

My Favorite Photos from the First Quarter

“And time
goes by
And you’ve got a lot to learn, in your life.” — Future Islands, Tin Man

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that I have officially completed my first quarter in the Peace Corps! (Counting method is my own.) I thought I’d take some time and reflect on my favorite moments/photos from the last six months. Some of these photos I have previously posted, while others are new.

I spent over a year thinking about Kosovo before I actually moved here. These are: 1) my very first photo of Kosovo and 2) the first photo of me in Kosovo, taken on the balcony of my hotel room.

I took the following photo at the end of the most terrifying day of my life. Here is a picture of my pre-service training (PST) bedroom:

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I love this photo I took of my sitemates Charlie and Sierra. It is funny to think I didn’t know them well back then.

About to watch the soccer match with some fellow Peace Corps trainees. Go, Albania!

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I didn’t know what to expect from my first birthday spent in Kosovo, but I am happy to say, my 35th was a happy one. (I suspect my language teacher was responsible for the cake — such a sweet gesture.)

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PST is not without its abject misery and heat. It does have its bright moments, too. Here is a picture of me commuting with my sitemates and my language teacher. I really miss these three, and don’t get to see them as often as I’d like anymore.

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The summer did not pass without its hedonistic moments. Here are two of my favorite photos, illustrating that:

Here is a picture of my language group, on the day we (finally) got to explore Pristina for the first time.

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I got to attend my first Kosovoar wedding. Here I am with one of my PST host brothers:

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One of my host brothers (not the one who got married) and me

Teaching for the first time was an intimidating experience, but it turned out to be more fun than I expected. I really like this photo of my  co-teachers, Chelsea and Chester.

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Our last week of PST was emotionally draining and difficult. But I had fun at the cultural day party/thank you to PST families that Peace Corps hosted.

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On my last night with my PST host family, I asked to take a photo with my host parents. My host dad was lying on the couch with a headache, but he got up and put on a dress shirt and nicer pants for the occasion. 🙂

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The next day, I swore in as a member of the Peace Corps. I have never been so proud of anything I’ve ever done.

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This is the first photo taken of me at my permanent host site, later that same day. It will always remind me that what I had anticipated would be a hard day (I was missing my sister’s wedding back at home) ultimately turned out just fine.

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Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful and holding a puppy

Speca (peppers) have consumed my life.

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Here is me on my first day of school!

#Kosovo #howiseepc #firstdayofschool

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I began crocheting a lot.

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I really love my fellow volunteers.

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I got to visit Skopje, Macedonia:

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I’ve spent several fun afternoons exploring Peja, a beautiful, mountainous city in Kosovo. This shot was taken on a particularly fun day.

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And, of course, I just visited Tirana!

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April and Val, outside the National Art Gallery of Albania

Thanks for letting me share!

Colors of Autumn

Autumn is magic. The days have been a sunny mid-70. We are tilting away from the sun, casting shadows long and deep. It is my favorite time of year.

I shot these photos in my host family’s garden, using both my Canon Powershot, and my iPhone 5 with a macro lens attachment (not a bad $18 investment).

If you would like to see some photos I have taken over the years, you can click here for my portfolio.

My Favorite Instagram Photos

I wanted to title this blog post: “My Favorite Instagram Photos (that other people took)” but that seemed ridiculously long. Anyway …

I’ve had a cautious relationship with my own Instagram account. I didn’t start one until just before I moved to Kosovo, because I didn’t know what to post about previously. I have complaints about the app (mainly in how it is used — every random account I scroll is laden with selfies and pictures of meals.) But, Instagram is an easy way for people to share their experiences through pictures, so it is not completely devoid of merit.

I have especially enjoyed looking at the accounts of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. On one hand, we are all sharing the experience of serving in Kosovo. But on the other hand, we are having our own unique, individual experiences, too. There are so many times when I’ve seen a picture and thought, “I wish I were doing that!” or “I know where that is!”

A lot of my friends/fellow volunteers are also really great photographers. I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos here. All photos are being posted with the permission of those who took them.

I’ve previously linked to Nicole’s photos. I love the moment she captured here:

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Nicole’s Photo

Cait (pronounced like the word “cloth” without the “L,” as she likes to say) took this gorgeous picture of a mosque, which inspired me to go out and take my own pic. Here is hers:

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Cait’s photo

Charlie is probably the most integrated volunteer I know. We used to live in the same small village and I swear he knew everyone. His language ability is also superior to my own, which makes me mildly hate him. (I told him I was going to caption this photo: “[MEAN WORD] INTEGRATING.” Haha, just kidding!) To use his description instead: “Volunteer/Friend Charlie with traditional Albanian musicians prior to wedding performance.”

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Charlie’s Photo

The Peace Corps gave us volunteer t-shirts. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain about a free shirt, but they’re a really ugly khaki color. However, Rachel put them to good use (and wisely posted this photo in black and white). Isn’t this great?

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Rachel’s photo

I saved the my favorite for last. Here is Hannah, at a shepard’s hangout. I saw this picture and was like, “I have been out-cooled.” Hannah looks like a wild princess. I wish I were a wild princess. Here is the photo that inspired me to write this post:

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Hannah’s photo