A Forthright Fusion

Life is all about change. I’ve realized how true that statement is as I’ve gotten older, especially in the past several years of my life after I graduated from Colorado State University in 2012 with a Bachelors degree in Social Work. Undergrad was great; I had way too much fun and drank way too many PBRs.

Throughout my youth I always wanted something different, a fresh start, new friends, you name it. I felt trapped in Colorado – the only place that I knew as home. It wasn’t because I was unhappy, although I definitely dealt with bouts of depression, but I always had this desire to explore and experience new things.

So… I did what any rational twenty-something would do and I decided to join the Peace Corps to move halfway across the world. I always considered volunteering for the Peace Corps, so during my final year of undergrad I decided to apply and see if I could get in. You guessed right. I was accepted to serve as a Health Education volunteer in Albania. When I received that initial acceptance letter I thought to myself, where the hell is Albania?! So I googled it and found out it was in Eastern Europe. Yay! I wanted to serve in Europe! So I accepted the invitation to serve, knowing virtually nothing about this country smaller than the state of Maryland. I packed two 50-pound suitcases and a carry-on bag and left everything and everyone I had ever known behind. The transition was hard at first, of course. I was immersed in an entirely different culture, that spoke a crazy difficult language, and on top of that, I was living in a small village with a host family that did not speak any English. I could barely pronounce the equivalent of hello in the Albanian language for those first few months. I also did not have any wifi while living in the village, which was difficult after being constantly connected in the United States. Luckily, I was still able to maintain a blog though and actually won a competition through Peace Corps for my recollection of my time in Albania. Over time things became easier and Albania became my home. I met some of my best friends there and someone who I love very much. I never would have thought that this country I had never even heard of before would win such a big piece of my heart.

Once I finished my service I went on a month long Eurotrip by myself. Like most American teenagers, I always dreamed of backpacking across Europe. I knew that after I left my Peace Corps service before starting graduate school would be the best time. I traveled all across Europe and hit up Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, and Ireland. It was the trip of a lifetime, but sometimes it was hard doing it all by myself.

Now I am living somewhere new, again. I’m back in the states, but not in Colorado; I was not ready to go back just yet. I’m currently in St. Louis, Missouri going to graduate school to receive my Masters in Social Work from the Brown School at Washington University. I continue to blog for my school’s admissions office about my experiences at the Brown School. I’ve grown a lot in the four months since moving to Missouri. It’s been eye opening to experience the cultural difference between states in the USA.

I’ve missed blogging for fun since leaving Peace Corps. I enjoy writing. I guess it’s almost therapeutic in a sense. So this blog is my forthright fusion, all my experiences amalgamated into me. This is who I am and how I see the world. I am direct. I am honest. No bullshit. Enjoy.



5 thoughts on “A Forthright Fusion

  1. Hey there, stumbled across your PC blog which of course brought me here. I’ll be leaving for my PC service in Albania this March..and I live in the STL area as well! Any chance I can contact you via email to maybe get some of your personal advice about Albania? Thanks! -Sarah Rose


  2. Hi Jill!

    I’m a new Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll be volunteering in the same city you served! I’ve bumped into a number of people who remember you and have nothing but great things to say; just yesterday I met Ervis, the English teacher from the vocational school and he kept talking about you and how you would speak in shqip but he was respond in English, because you both wanted to practice the opposite language, haha. I was wondering if you might have some time to chat or email about your time here, projects and/or contacts you may recommend? Thanks a bunch, and good luck with your masters program!


    1. Hey Julio! I was hoping that you’d reach out to me! Feel free to contact me via Facebook (you can find me through Mike or the PC group) or through email jilljustine13@gmail.com. We can even set up a time to Skype or something if you’d like!! Hope to hear from you soon! 🙂


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