My typical day in Bishqem

Bishqem is a small farm town (the bus driver told us its just a “spot on the highway”), so I wake up when the rooster crows, literally. As soon as the sunrises and light beams into my bedroom at 6:00am, I’m up and ready to go. It’s amazing how peaceful and easy it is to wake up in the morning without blaring an alarm clock and blinding your eyes by switching on the light. Then again, maybe it’s so easy to wake up at the crack of dawn because I go to bed shortly after the sun sets…but what else is there to do after dark on a farm besides go to bed? Hang out with the cows? There are no streetlights in Bishqem and there is no night life here. And I don’t just mean there are no clubs or bars, I mean there is actually nothing moving outside at night. When the sun starts setting everyone heads home, eats dinner, watches the news, and goes to bed. It’s a simple life, but a good one.

After breakfast I walk about half a mile to school where I have Albanian language classes for the next five hours. Don’t worry, we break for coffee and snacks about a million times so it flies by. We eat lunch at a place that supposedly sells “fast food” if you believe the sign, but by Albanian standards that means fresh-cut salads, yogurt, bread, souvlaki, rice with meatballs, and fruit. Huge upgrade from what I thought I would be getting at a fast food place, that’s for sure. When they described it at first, I was more than hesitant because this “fast food” place (and the hub of the social scene) in Bishqem is at the gas station. Imagine telling an American that they will be eating lunch at a fast food gas station restaurant every day- every one of our faces was marred with sheer panic until we got to town and saw it for ourselves. It’s actually pretty nice…and the cappuccinos are to die for.

Once class and lunch are over I usually just hang out at the café to study. Now, by 5:00pm I absolutely have to be home, or I will miss the highlight of my host sister’s day (and therefore mine by assimilation)- Menekshe ile Halil. It’s this intense Turkish soap opera that comes on every day at the same time. So you can imagine just how slow moving the plot is. It’s like daytime soaps in the U.S., just at night…that is if you factor in the language barrier and the culturally approved topics. Now in typical female fashion, I’ve gotten quite hooked (even only after a few day) and am genuinely excited for tomorrow so that I can see if Menekshe’s finance, Halil, will find her kidnapper and rescue her before the wedding is supposed to take place. What can I say, some things transcend all languages.

When dinner is over and my brain hurts from translating the captioning on the television, I go up to my room and pass out almost instantly. The day may feel like it takes forever at first, but I think I really could get used to this.

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