Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Kosovo: The Epilogue...Or Would This Be Called an "Epiblog?"

An Epilogue is a summary or a pulling together of all the events in a book. It is appropriate to finish this series of blog posts with a summary or at least a reflection on the past ten months of this story I call Kosovo.

While it might be simple (though lengthy) to merely go through each chapter and pick out the highlights of each month I lived in this tiny southeastern country, the researcher in me tends to sort the data I’ve collected and report to you what has been most meaningful to me.

Teaching in Europe is as easy as Flying a Kite!
My journey started with a message on Facebook. A former education student of mine contacted me asking if I would consider teaching fourth grade at Prishtina High School in Kosovo. She said it was a “big ask”, but they needed a teacher. That was a Friday night. By Sunday I had accepted.

I moved to Prishtina to teach. You might think this summary would be about teaching. It isn’t. It’s about learning. Learning to be independent. Learning new lessons about relationships. And it is about embracing new experiences.
Independence vs. Dependence: It’s All in the Attitude
When my husband died in 2014, I lived in a fog of sorts. Though I tried to never be a burden to my family, I relied on them heavily. I was used to talking things over with Tom. Making most decisions had become a joint effort. I was on the mend, I suppose, when I left for Kosovo. I had moved into a new house and was working with the team completing its remodel. When the call to serve in Kosovo came, I discussed it with my family, but ultimately made the decision on my own. 

The Mountains of Montenegro
From my balcony
Still, to move to a different country removed me from my safety net of family and friends. I found myself alone, but never lonely. Living in Kosovo stretched me to tackle everything I could completely on my own. I had American friends in Kosovo. Good friends. But they were also wrestling with settling into a new country. 

You may remember the first time I caught the bus to work. I wound up on the wrong bus with people who did not speak English. I eventually made it to my school. I also got to see much of Prishtina. I called on that experience often when something did not go as planned. I knew in the end, I would be okay and I would gain a new perspective. With each experience, I gained confidence and independence. 

Friendships Are Paramount

I’ve always been a “people person.” That only means I’m social. I have a lot of friends. Most of them were part of a couple. Tom was my best friend. We enjoyed each other’s company. We did everything together. Oh, sure, he had his golfing buddies and I had a few women in my life I enjoyed spending time with, but mostly, Tom was my very closest friend. 

When he died, I came to rely on my family and a few very close friends. I didn’t know where I fit. I was no longer considered married, but I didn’t consider myself single either. For being a “people person,” I had only a handful of people I let into my heart.

My Friend Edona Treated Me to a Birthday IceCream!
Now I was living alone in a foreign country. Yet I never felt lonely. And my circle of friends broadened. I had friends who were American but also Kosovar friends. I developed friendships with both genders. And the one that surprised me most were the friendships made with people of all ages. I guess on my part that sort of had to be since I was the oldest person at the school and church. 

Kosovo’s population itself is quite young (something like 70% of the whole population is under 35 years old).

Anna treated me like a granny...AndI loved it!
I developed friendships with teachers in my school building and at church of all ages. I always felt included. One of my young twenty-something friends put it this way, “Living in a different country gives you the opportunity to make friends outside your normal boundaries…boundaries like age or gender or anything else that defines you. We’re all in this together.”

Embrace New Experiences

Word of Advice: If you are going to live in a different country be prepared for new and unexpected experiences. Embrace them. Learn from them. Laugh through them. Use them to help you face challenges of day-to-day living when you return to your homeland. (I live by the motto, “If I did this …I can do anything.”)

Note: the words in blue are clickable links to take you to the original post.

The bus ride would have been terrifying…to be lost in a city where I don’t speak the language? But no, it was interesting and I trusted I would find my way to the school…eventually.

When I went to the beauty shop and wound up looking “very European,” I could have cried. But hair is hair and nothing lasts forever.

When I was invited to the Balla and had nothing to wear, the whole shopping experience would have been a nightmare for me in the States, but I embraced it in Kosovo as fun.

Exploring new restaurants? Exciting. Learning to cook Albanian food? Delicious! Even my trip to the Emergency Room I embraced as a blog post! 

And Now...

Kosovo's Ten Year Celebration!
Kosovo gained its independence in 2008. I gained mine in 2018. In Kosovo. And I did it in large part because of good friends and great experiences. 

Where will this blog go from here? I don’t know. As I step back into my life in Ohio, I am a changed person. What is my next adventure? I’m not sure. I do know this: God has me in the palm of his hand. Whatever direction I take, I trust him with it.

Stay tuned….. 


  1. What a beautiful year. I’m so glad you had the experience you did, blessing a whole crowd of people along the way. But grateful you’re home!

    1. Thank you, Sweet Kendall! It was indeed a wonderful year but I'm glad to be back closer to my family!


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