When I initially told to my friends and family about my plans on going to Albania for exchange, I got faced with uncertainty, prejudice, and doubt. The overall safety of the country was the main concern of my relatives. After all, Canadian Institute of Technology (CIT) is relatively new exchange destination for TAMK students and since and no-one had been there previously, I really did not know what to expect. For everything, someone always must be the first and this time was my turn. As my exchange period is soon coming to an end, I can wholeheartedly say that I did not feel threatened, once. Reckless driving culture was my main safety concern during my time here, but as long as you stay alert at all times when walking around the city, it really isn’t an issue either.
As my exchange took place during the spring period of 2021, 99% of the teaching happened online. Even though I would have preferred in-premises teaching, it was a non-issue for me since I knew it well in advance because of the situation the world was in. I was pleasantly surprised about the quality of teaching because in general, it quite comparable to the Finnish remote studying standard I’ve come to expect. I can only speak from the side of remote classes though and thus, my experience might have been different in a regular classroom setting.
The country itself is very beautiful with its endless mountain ranges, Mediterranean nature, and comfortable weather. As for the capital Tirana, you will experience a culture shock for sure. The infrastructure is not as developed, some areas of the city are very untidy and, in some respects, it does feel like you have gone 20 years back in time compared what it is like living in Finland. To give a few examples, the smoking culture and women’s status in a family are things that caught me off guard while living there.
On a positive note, the country is very affordable for a Finnish student. During the whole exchange period, I cooked under five times myself and my living costs were still less than what they are in Finland, where I almost never eat takeout- or restaurant food. Below is a picture of a very popular Greek fast-food item (ironic, I know :D) in Tirana called souvlaki, which costs 80 cents for one in this specific restaurant.
CIT has a full three-year program dedicated for their own finance students on top of the regular BA program and especially the third-year autumn semester’s offerings compliment TAMK’s finance module very well. Unfortunately, I was not able to take advantage of these courses because my exchange took place in the spring period, during which the courses weren’t exactly to my liking, but I made it work. I would recommend CIT as the exchange destination for anyone who wants to experience a lifestyle radically different from Finland, values fully English curriculum and to someone who doesn’t want the exchange period to break the bank!