Location and Culture
Albania is located on the Adriatic Sea in southeastern Europe, across from Italy and north of Greece. It is a small mountainous country with both Mediterranean and Alpine climates. After centuries of foreign occupation followed by decades of oppressive communist rule, Albania is embracing democracy and capitalism. Although it is a poor, developing nation, today Albania has one of Europe’s fasting growing economies. Albania has numerous small cities of historical or archeological interest in additional to Tirana—a bustling capital city with heavy traffic and chaotic construction. Tirana also offers cultural activities, museums, good restaurants, cafes, nightlife, and a large population of students eager to practice their English. Tirana has a humid subtropical climate with cool and wet winters and hot and dry summers. Average temperatures in November fall between 46°F and 63°F.
Housing and Meals
WPI students live in apartments in a quiet neighborhood near the embassies and the main square in Tirana. The apartments have spacious living areas and are fully furnished, including wireless internet. Each apartment has two bedrooms, and each bedroom will house two to three students. Linens are provided, as is a washing machine (but no dryer). Each apartment is equipped with a kitchen. Accommodation type and location are subject to change and will be confirmed the term prior to departure.
Albanian cuisine is primarily influenced by Italian and Turkish cuisines. Albanian cuisine frequently uses Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, mint, basil, rosemary, chili pepper, and garlic. Vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and olives are used in almost every dish. Seafood is common in the coastal cities, while higher elevations may consume “non-traditional” parts of the animal. Students should inform their advisor of any health concerns or dietary restrictions or allergies in advance of participation in this program.
Examples of past projects completed at the Tirana Albania Project Center include:
- Promotion of community-based tourism in a village having a previously inaccessible cave
- Documentation of environmental conditions along a major river
- Development of a water education program for Albanian high schools
- Collaboration with goat farmers to develop markets for local dried meat products