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Memorial International School of Tirana, Albania
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mizzoumike76



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Location: Tirana, Albania hailing from the USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:57 am    Post subject: Memorial International School of Tirana, Albania Reply with quote

Folks,

MIST (Memorial International School of Albania) recently posted a job ad on the Jobs board.

If anyone is considering working for this school, I thought I would offer my opinion as I briefly subbed at this school:

The staff is friendly and helpful. They have staff from Turkey, Albania, and Western countries, and they were pretty nice people.

The kids were terrific. Let me qualify that: teaching in Albania is a real treat because they are very curious about foreigners, and not the least bit shy to ask you any and all questions. Furthermore, they respect teachers a lot. The boys can be loud and obnoxious, but they ARE boys. The girls are usually sweet and attentive.

The school building is decent. It is the old Communist Party school's building. Concrete with Turkish style bathrooms (sorry!), and I don't think there is a/c in the classrooms. The summers in Albania can be hot, but not humid and it starts cooling off in September. It can get cold in winter, and most schools don't have heat (!) in the classrooms, but this one does.

Stuff available for teachers: There's a big teacher's room and a big PC lab, etc. There's even a wash lady that will bring you tea or Turkish coffee if you call her, which was a nice treat. I don't know about teaching resources since I wasn't there long enough to use them, but I assume they're somewhere. They use UK textbooks, and the teachers move from class to class. I've had this set-up in a number of schools, and it's strange at first but you get used to it. They also do feed you lunch and breakfast, which is usually Turkish or Albanian food and it was quite good.

Tirana is a bustling city with a lot of cafes and restaurants......so many I still cannot understand how they all stay in business. Eating out is super cheap, I don't think I paid more than $10US very often, and usually half that. The fruits and veggies are all organic and very cheap, the people are friendly, and the school is right next to where all the mini-buses stop to go to different cities. The pollution is bad, but the school is on the edge of the city and not so bad as where I was living.

Albania in general is a poor country and also very beautiful. Excellent beaches, especially in Dhermi to the south which is close to Greece. The mountains usually have snow all winter, and you can catch really cheap flights to Bulgaria and Italy on the weekends, or drive to Macedonia for skiing.

The salary is more than enough to live very comfortably, and you can easily save a good deal of your pay for travel or whatever.

People speak Albanian, but many people, 35 and younger, speak near fluent Italian and probably some English too. They know you're foreign and will try to help you. If you're an American, you're especially liked as they love all things American, except Obama. And on that note, remember many many people were persecuted and died under a very oppressive communist regime, and the riots in '97 were very violent. Coming in and trying to expound the virtues of ANY socialist ideas (socialized medicine, redistribution of wealth, etc) is not likely to make you any friends. These people went through hell, and anyone 25 or older likely has more bad memories than they care to admit.

Why did I leave if it was so great? I was only subbing, couldn't find a full-time teaching gig.

Would I go back? You bet! I'd apply for this job myself, but after 4 months in Japan I'm really attached to my students and hate to leave in such a hurry. Alas, I hope to be back in Albania someday, it truly is a wonderful place to live.

Anyway, that's my little advice about Albania and this school. There's not much information out there about living in Albania and I'm certainly no expert, but I did live there and if you have any questions you should feel more than welcome to ask me.

Michael
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sheikxhoni



Joined: 28 Jun 2009
Posts: 48
Location: Bangkok

PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:36 pm    Post subject: Yes, Albania can be very nice - - Reply with quote

But Michael we should keep that secret to ourselves.

I will agree with what you said but add that the Hash House Harriers group in Tirana is (was) a very good place to make friends. It is very family friendly and has great parties and some trips.

Pollution didn't seem so bad downtown but I left in 2004 and the traffic got worse every year (3) that I was there.

Lots of people speak very good English - much more so than in Thailand, Vietnam, or the Dominican Republic where I have made stops since I left. Dhermi, BTW, is in the direction of Greece but it is still a long way from Greece. Corfu is probably the closest Greek destination but the overnight ferry to Italy or drive up the coast to Montenegro are both better get away trips from Albania - and you will want to get away. Shopping in Albania sucks.

I would like a job in Albania too. Let's flip for it.
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mizzoumike76



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Location: Tirana, Albania hailing from the USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xhoni,

Shopping was like playing "what's in the bag"......just because they had it last time doesn't mean it will (ever) be there again. If you like it you better buy it now!

The pollution really wasn't all that terrible, but I'm not as sensitive to it as a lot of people. Cigarettes and diesel smoke don't bother me, but I know some people have real problems with that.

As for English speakers, yes, a lot of people speak at least some, but when I wrote this I guess I was thinking of your average shop keeper or "guy on the street"......the younger they are, the better the chance they speak it. I had a barber who was 18 and didn't know two words, but his 8 yr old brother would yap away with me in pretty good English while the elder brother cut my hair. I *THINK* the kids from the villages don't get a decent shot at learning English, but in Tirana and Vlora they do? Just my poorly constructed theory.

I guess I was off on where I thought Dhermi was. Maybe it was 3 hour car ride that got me confused. Can't believe we drove there at night!

I miss the place big time. Japan is nice and clean and orderly, but where's the fun in that?
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sheikxhoni



Joined: 28 Jun 2009
Posts: 48
Location: Bangkok

PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:40 am    Post subject: Shopping in Tirana Reply with quote

I like your description of shopping in Tirana. Let me tell you this story: There was a product that I liked but it was often not available. Eventually it wasn't available at all. An Albanian friend translated for me when the shopkeeper answered that he stopped carrying that product because he kept running out. So, in other words it sold so well that he stopped selling it. Cool idea but I don't think that is the kind of research Walmart depends on.

But the shopping in the small town of Bari where the overnight ferry lands in Italy is really great - there are huge Aushon (sp) and two Carrefours and a lot of great small shops in town. Sleep on the ferry, shop all day, sleep on the way back on the ferry.
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WanderingGentile



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Memorial International School of Tirana, Albania Reply with quote

mizzoumike76 wrote:
they love all things American, except Obama.


Just curious as to why they don't like Obama?
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mizzoumike76



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Location: Tirana, Albania hailing from the USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the Obama note, I believe it was a number of things: Obama either said nice things about Serbia or bad things about Kosova (probably the latter); Bush actually visited Albania, maybe they're worried about being forgotten especially with their EU membership hopes; Obama is "Roma".

It could be argued that perhaps people were being polite and agreeing with me (I don't care for Obama), but those people haven't spent a lot of time in Albania! More, this was the opinion offered to me without my asking. I never imagined they'd care so much, but they did. They weren't pleased when he got elected. Again, these are the people I talked to, I certainly didn't conduct a scientific poll or do any real analysis, just my experience.

For Xhoni: Economics. He's doing it wrong! That's terribly funny. Was he an old man that ran one of the little convenience shops on the side streets, or did he have a shoe/clothing shop? I think a lot of those shops rely on relatives and friends overseas sending or bringing their stock in for them, maybe that is why it was a hassle. Or maybe he had to go all the way to EuroMax to get it just for you to buy it from him! Either way, that's funny.

My favorite thing about shopping in Albania: Honey. Depending on where you buy it and when, the taste was totally different. Dhermi in late summer was right fine honey! I saw some that almost looked like molasses, maybe on the way down the mountains to Elbasan. Oh, and I miss the figs. I ate those constantly, fresh or dried.
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sheikxhoni



Joined: 28 Jun 2009
Posts: 48
Location: Bangkok

PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:00 pm    Post subject: More on Obama and shopping in Albania Reply with quote

It is interesting to be addressed in the previous post as Xhoni. Although I teach in Thailand now, my user name here is Albanian. Xhoni is the Albanian spelling for John or Johnny.

As luck would have it I have a close friend, a collge professor, also works for an NGO, and is engaged to a (former) member of the Albanian parlament. So, since I consider her an authority, I asked her if Albanian people liked Bush more than Obama and here is her response:

Hi there Smile

1. Well actually it might seem that way for some reasons: first because Bush came to Albania so, although we love America no matter what, we kind of feel gratitude towards him for making it possible to come to Albania. Second unfortunately this is sad but somehow true it seems that albanians still have problems with racism so that might be the main reason... so maybe that can be told... in general... me personally of course I was pro him... from the other side all the Albanian politicians here especially left wing took a lot after Obama during their electoral campaign here and everyone recognized Obama's campaign as a very successful one... So maybe another distinction is more politically... the left wing affiliated and partizans support Obama the right wing support Bush... not him personally but mostly his party... sooo well don't know how much of help I was... but that's all I can say for now Smile

2. Yes we're doing ok Smile He didn't run again this time... he quitted as he doesn't like to deal with politics any longer... He's an artist so will get back there... These elections were more on me this time hahaahaha since my programme is "Women and Elections" so this year was really crazy... but nice Smile
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ciara5



Joined: 29 Nov 2010
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:35 am    Post subject: memorial international school Reply with quote

Mizzoumike76 It was great to read your positive comments about the Memorial International School in Tirana. I have applied to the school and they are interested in me. Please can you give me details of the visa procedure. The Director has said that I can enter Albania with no visa, and the visa and residence permit will be taken care of when I get there. I am worried that this probably means that I can't start work until I have the visa. I'm also worried that they might require my passport for some length of time. Also worried about whether I would have to leave the country to finally obtain the visa. Please can you advise me of the procedures involved.
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mizzoumike76



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Location: Tirana, Albania hailing from the USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I sent you an email.

Michael
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MIschoolteacher



Joined: 17 Mar 2011
Posts: 2
Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:54 pm    Post subject: teaching in Albania Reply with quote

I'm a retired secondary teacher with English/Spanish certifications. I applied to the school in Tirana, Albania. The most recent post about teaching in Albania was in 2009. Is anyone aware of any changes in the country that would affect their needs for teachers?
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I´ve actually been offered a job at this school, and I´m about 95% certain that I´ll take it. (The job will start in early September.)

I actually applied to work there for the 2010-2011 academic year and I exchanged emails with the principal of the school (A Turkish guy, as the school and some others and a university in Albania are all apparently owned by a Turkish education company) a number of times; he informed me that I was one of the final few candidates for a position there but, alas, eventually ended up telling me that he had chosen to hire someone else.

However, a month ago or so, I saw (on this site, I think) that the school was hiring for the 2011-2012 academic year and, realizing that next academic year I probably wouldn´t return to the school where I´m teaching now (William Caxton College in Quito, Ecuador,) I decided to apply to MIST in Tirana, Albania again.

After a few email exchanges, skype interviews and my answering of 17 written questions that the same Turkish principal sent me via email, he offered me the job this time.

From the summer of 2002 through the fall of 2011, I lived in Romania and The Republic of Moldova for around 5.5 (actually probably 5.7 to be a bit more precise) years and so I feel that I´m pretty familiar with life in relatively poor European countries. I´ve been living for a little over 6 months here in Ecuador, and this experience (generally positive, except for the school where I´ll teach for another month here) has only just reinforced my view (first formed, as suggested above, while living in Romania and Moldova) that teaching and living in a relatively poor and obscure (from the standpoint of an "average" American) country like Albania is bound to be far more interesting and pleasant and than dangerous, scary, worrying, etc.

The salary that I was offered (and which was offered to all the other foreign teachers, too, I believe) is 1450 euros net a month, which is excellent for a relatively cheap country like Albania. The school also apparently provides you with both breakfast and lunch during the day, which is another bonus. Furthermore, the school pays 550 euros for your return flight to your home company (or the cash equivalent in case you don´t intend to fly back to your home country) which is another positive factor.

The principal told me in our skype interviews (as did another American or Canadian teacher there with whom I exchanged emails) that from K-12 there are only around 200 students and there are no classes with more than 18 students. Coming from an Ecuadorean school where there are plenty of classes with 25-26-27 students and 700-800 I believe from grades K-11 and this sounds like a big improvement.

The Principal (and that teacher with whom I exchanged emails) told me that detention and suspension exist as corrective measures to improve kids´behavior (or to punish them for this,) but that there generally aren´t discipline problems here. Compared to my current job here in Ecuador, where lots of kids behave shockingly badly and have minimal respect for the teacher and where there is no detention, and this all again sounds like a step up for me (in regards to the quality and mode of organization of my school/place of work.)

As for the political situation, I´m not so sure that everyone is such a hardcore reactionary here. A couple of months ago in Albania, there were protests against the country´s President, a corrupt, aggressively pro-NATO, pro-capitalist puppet of Washington named Sali Berisha; thousands showed up and Berisha´s security forces apparently shot and killed four people. In local elections held last Sunday, the mayor of Tirana, a member of the (actually clearly pro-capitalist) "Socialist" Party apparently held onto his position by the narrowest of margins against his opponent, a figure from Berisha´s party. Furthermore, last week the "Socialist" Party also apparently won elections for most of the city halls in the country against its more openly right-wing opponents (from Berisha´s party.)

The claim that one poster made about the supposedly right-wing character of people in Albania may have been influenced by the fact that the (Albanian) students in MIST (apparently 45 - 50% of the students there are Albanian, while the other 50-55% are the sons and daughters of foreign diplomats and ambassadors posted in Albania) are generally the sons and daughters of business people, i.e. wealthy people with a generally fervently anti-socialist worldview. While the Albanian parents who send their kids to MIST probably match the description that that poster provided (a former substitute teacher at MIST,) the available evidence indicates that, just as anywhere else, the Albanian populace is ideologically divided and that around half of them, maybe slightly more and maybe slightly less, vote for the "Socialist" Party.
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 474

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I´ve actually been offered a job at this school, and I´m about 95% certain that I´ll take it. (The job will start in early September.)"

Congratulations on the job offer, GT! Was lack of a degree an issue when applying at MIST? I noticed that their website specifies a degree as a necessary qualification. (Perhaps the degree requirement is trumped by experience?) I realized only recently that Albania is not a Schengen zone member, and is at this point still a candidate for EU membership. Does this translate into non-EUers being competitive with EU applicants when applying for jobs? Less of a preference for EU applicants? Is there a marked preference for hiring local NNS applicants, as there seems to be in some of the other Balkan countries? (To the extent, that is, that jobs are even available.)
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello yalls,

Indirectly answering a question that one of you asked me, I can say that I was obligated to show the Principal of MIST (to scan and email him) an official copy of the transcript from the university from which I received my two BA degrees as well as an official copy of the transcript from the university from which I received my MA degree.

In short, my understanding is that you definitely need at least a (legitimate/recognized) university degree in order to be able to teach at MIST. While I happen to have 2 BAs and an MA (and am doing my PhD studies) I still do not have a TEFL degree; my plan is to finish the online TEFL course during the summer as an insurance plan in the case something unexpectedly goes wrong at the last moment vis-a-vis my application to MIST. (This would be a good idea in any event, as it would substantially expand the options open to me regarding the possibility of teaching in any and all corners of the world in the future.)
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 474

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Globetrotting Teacher wrote:
. . . While I happen to have 2 BAs and an MA (and am doing my PhD studies) I still do not have a TEFL degree; my plan is to finish the online TEFL course during the summer as an insurance plan in the case something unexpectedly goes wrong at the last moment vis-a-vis my application to MIST. . .


Oh, my apologies, GT! For some reason I had confused you with another poster (who doesn't yet have a degree) on the Latin America forum. I now see the error of my ways--sorry for the confusion. Embarassed
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nesmije



Joined: 20 Jun 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Globetrotting teacher -

I stumbled upon this post because while I was researching MIST... because I am also going to be teaching there for the 2011-2012 school year! This will be my first teaching abroad experience.

I would love to exchange some emails! Smile
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