Living outside US borders

Published on 1 May 2023 at 04:59

This is for those of you back home and around the world who are following my adventures, who have expressed interest in the work that I've been doing and hearing my internal musings as I process and document life from my own perspective. 

Life in Albania has not felt drastically different than my everyday life in Michigan. Yes things take longer but the same tasks and details come up here as back home. I've been asked if I feel adjusted, and really I haven't felt like there has been that much adjusting. The apartment I'm staying in is with people who are now new and old friends, a community that has so much value and people that I love. Getting to do life: meals, evenings, activities, church and worship with them has been such a blessing and makes Albania easily feel like a home that I can thrive in. And Luoni their cat has been an extra fun part of living in their apartment, he adds so many laughs to our days, crazy sneak attacks and cuddles in the mornings. 

I have a fellow lover of board and card games in one of my roommates, and we have already had a couple of game nights! :) We raised the stakes for loosing in farkle (a dice game) and the looser had to have an egg cracked over their head, I won so I escaped that consequence but we will see in the future what challenges are presented at our next rematch ;)

I have jumped into serving wherever a need is present, and one of the schools that my roommates teach at is short staffed and so I have been doing some training so that I can help proctor some of the end of the year highschool exams. Those exams start this week, though I have already given the PSAT to some of the 8th and 9th graders my first week here.


Ultrasound teaching clinics have also started and most of my meeting times are in the afternoon or evening. There is a group of medical students that meet Tuesday and Thursday night. Last week we walked through an anatomical survey (20 week scan of twins) where we looked at baby presentation, placenta, and babies anatomy to check and make sure everything is forming correctly. It was a group of about 12 med students and just as back in the states there were some more interested in that field than others. I had at least 6 very interested individuals who were excited about the presentation and wanted to get some hands on experience themselves, a couple of who are very passionate about the potential to become OB/GYNs. They were expressive at how thankful they were to be able to get hands on the probe as that was a first for most of them. Our OB model is such sweet women and I had the pleasure of meeting her and scanning her twins the previous week so she would feel comfortable in the group setting. I have a couple of ultrasound machines here, so the challenge is always to look like I know what I'm doing while also learning new buttons and a new machine lol.

This is what one of my current set ups looks like, its a butterfly probe that can plug into any apple device. It belongs to one of the USA Dr.s working here and I have been toting it around for teaching and other use. Actually one of the first Sunday's I was here one of the women who work with the school had severe flank pain, and I ended up scanning her at her house on the way home from church to check for kidney stones. I really never know what could come up in a day here and am constantly living with idea that at any moment my day could look different than what I had planned.

At some point I will share a couple of those experiences, but they are too long and have meant to much to me to put into this post.


Another teaching opportunity is with the local family practice here, and I have had the pleasure of teaching them how to use the machine they already have, and how to perform some quick exams to scan certain organs to pick up abnormalities that they would need to refer to a specialist if found in their office. Right now they use the machine a bit, but mostly refer out when the patients symptoms indicate they need further treatment. Our last section was focused on women's health scanning tips and this week we are meeting to go over scanning the abdominal organs and thyroid.


That is some of the more productive areas of life in Albania, but part of the everyday is also making sure we have food, have laundry done, keeping the house in order, and getting places-all of which takes longer than back home. Albania does not have dryers so everything has to be hung up, usually grocery shopping looks like walking to 3-4 stores to get all the different things you need for the week (meat and produce are sold at different stores, and if a store has everything than prices are drastically increased) most of our produce comes from fruit stands that can be found everywhere along the street in Albania. I also have the extra challenge of reading labels in Albanian to make sure that they are dairy free, or by going to different stores to find those products. Every day is between 3-9 miles walking, which I have started to feel some inflammation in my joints even though I am generally a pretty active person, hopefully my body adjusts quickly as walking is pretty much the only way to get around to the places I need to go!

view from the apartment

one of the many produce stands

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Jody Anderson
a year ago

Thank you, Julie! Love these updates.
Love you!