Sunday, December 20, 2009

Together Again!

After having gone our separate ways for 6 months, Group 12 in FULL convened in the southeastern city of Pogradec for 4 days to brush up on the language (and show off what we know). The Language Refresher Conference is provided to revive our Albanian/Shqip skills, and give us a few days to learn some more stuff. We were divided into groups based on level, and you will all be pleased to know that I was in Group 1- the advanced students!!!

Don’t get me wrong though, the language is definitely hard, and the dialect and accent is different within every person I meet. There are some days when I can understand everyone and everything, but there are other days that crush my spirits. Sometimes people don’t expect me to know a word, so after saying something so simple as “hello” they pat me on the back, hug me, kiss me, and praise me. There are other people who hear me speaking Albanian and still pretend they can’t understand a word I am saying/look at me like I’m speaking in tongues. Still there are others who hear me say “hello” and then plow full speed ahead and assume I can understand them. Most frequently though, I get complimented on my Albanian, and my favorite compliment is “you speak like you’re one of us!” Those that know me know I am extremely competitive, so my desire to learn as much as possible and always be the best keeps me learning more. But to be completely realistic about the situation, I know how much and how fast I have learned in 9 months, and its pretty incredible. I sometimes remind myself its okay when I don’t know things… or at least I remind myself that I can go home and study for hours like a true nerd.

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