Everything begins with that 3 AM alarm clock. It is August 2nd, and finally the day for me to travel to Kosovo has come. It was still dark outside, but to me it felt like one of the most beautiful days of this summer. In only one day I was going to hug my parents, whom I had missed dearly. In one day I was going too see my best friends, with whom I had stayed in touch the whole year. And in only one day I was going to see my little sister, Melodi, who is one of the most important people in my life. Ah this was all extremely exciting, and sometimes felt like just a dream.
After doing some last minute packing, I was ready for the two-week vacation to begin. I made it to the airport right on time, thanks to Andrea – the Admissions Event Coordinator, and her family. Surprisingly we had to be at the airport around the same time, so we all went together. I skipped the long bus ride, train rides, and even a sleepover in Vancouver. Thank you Andrea!
The airport had that same feel of people running around with their bags, family members crying after saying goodbye to their loved ones, and children complaining that they’re tired while sitting on the floor. I had a few minutes to spare so I decided to explore the airport for a bit, and eventually ended up in a bakery. I enjoyed a hot drink, met a few people whom were travelling to Europe as well, and then got ready to go to my gate.
Fast forward 4.5 hours later…
The doors of the airplane opened. I walked through a small hallway, and then boom! A busy airport was revealed. This time people were really running (or maybe sprinting), some were having heavy and loud debates with their travel companions, and some moms were getting mad at their kids for lying down on the floor. I was in Toronto Pearson International Airport, trying to find my way through thousands of people. There were so many people, to the point that it was hard to walk or see anything.
Eventually, after running around for a bit, looking for directions, and trying to find my flight number on the big screens I found myself in the right gate and ready to board the next airplane. This flight from Toronto to Vienna would be approximately nine hours long, and I would still have another flight to go home. I guess the excitement that I was going home soon, was motivating me and keeping me more energetic.
More than nine hours later I made it to Vienna, then got in another airplane and flew to Prishtina (the capital city of Kosovo). I was getting really emotional seeing my country from the air. There were many old houses with red roofs and gravel roads with lots of tress on the side. This was my country, exactly how I remembered it!
The airplane touched down, I got my bags, and made it out the door of the building. As I started to walk, this little girl came running to me and gave me the biggest hug full of longing for the old days. It was Melodi, it was my beautiful blue eyed little sister. And then right behind her were my parents, elegant and graceful as always. We were back together, and even though this was a really short trip I promised to myself that I would do everything to spend as much time with my family and friends. I could go back to getting eight hours of sleep every night when I would come back to Canada.
The last part of the trip was a 1.5 hour drive from Prishtina to Gjakova. After two long days of travelling, I was home. The home my parents built after working and saving for so many years since our previous one was burned during the war in 1999. So many birthdays, New Year’s Eves, and accomplishments were celebrated in this house. So many unforgettable summer memories of running around, playing, and swimming in floatable swimming pools with my siblings and cousins. It has been a joy and blessing to grow up there.
In the evening my grandmother, aunt, and uncle with his family surprised me with a visit and also a “Welcome back, Poema” cake. It was fun to catch up with everyone and enjoy that delicious cake. I went to bed really late, but with a smile on my face. It felt good to be home, after one full year!
On Monday I wanted to spend the whole day with my little sister, so we went on a little adventure. We did lots of things that we always used to do on summer breaks. We got our nails done, did our own hair, made a delicious salad, and finally went to a secret garden that Melodi introduced me to. It had lots of colorful flowers that were full of aroma, it had a water fountain right in the middle and there were only three park benches around it. It really was magical! My brother (who studies and lives in California) and I looked after Melodi a lot considering the fact that my mom always worked long hours, so we are very much attached to her. She brings happiness and joy to our family, and I am really proud to what an amazing and smart girl she has become. I cannot wait to see how far she goes and how much she is going to positively impact people’s lives.
Late in the evening, after having dinner with my family, I went out with some of my friends to a local café. I forgot how acceptable it is to order just an espresso and sit around a table for hours. We talked and laughed about fun events that happened in high school, trips we took, and what we are doing now. Many of them are attending Universities and majoring in different areas from medicine to engineering and some are working really hard to save money. I felt really proud of how far each and every single one of them has come.
On Tuesday I went to the capital city, since I had some appointments at the dentist and the eye doctor. It was not a fun day, but important for my health. I spent the evening with my family members, with whom after dinner I sat in the balcony and had some tea with Italian biscotti. I love how my parents still do things that we always did, from having tea after dinner to spending the evening in the balcony due to the extreme heat inside I had actually forgotten how hot it gets in Kosovo, to the point where it gets harder to breathe.
I am just realizing how long this blog is getting, so I will try to keep it short. On Wednesday evening I went to a concert with my high school friends and watched two famous Kosovar singers perform live on stage. It was lots of fun, I just wish I knew their Summer 2014 hits better.
However, the real fun began on Thursday, when my dad, sister, and I started a seven-hour drive to the beautiful city of Albania, known as Sarande. This city is situated in an open sea gulf of the Ionian Sea in central Mediterranean. It is only 8 miles east of the north end of Greek Island Corfu. This was my third time in a row going to Sarande, and I am still amazed by the beauty of this city and its beaches. No wonder why in 2014, USA today listed Sarande among 10 great cruise ports you have never heard of. On Saturday morning my mom joined us, and then we went to the market and bought fresh fish a cooked a delicious lunch. I wish my brother Blin was with us too, because it was such an amazing vacation.
I stayed in Sarande until Sunday afternoon, and then headed home. The first week flew by, it felt like it was 5 seconds long and not seven days. I will write another blog about the second week at home from going out with Elementary school friends, having a family reunion at my aunt’s house, to saying goodbye to my family and friends and heading back to Canada.