Most places I have lived, I have know at least a tiny bit of the language. Even when I was in Cambodia, I started taking Khmer right away.
Here, not knowing Albanian, I mostly just have funny stories.
One of the women in my office did start to teach me the first day I arrived some Albanian. I learned to say “mire menjges” or good morning. We practiced daily. Sadly, this was all I got.
A couple weeks after arriving, I was allowed to drive. My car still had no license plates, but I had a piece of paper I could should police if stopped that proved the plates were in process and I was allowed behind the wheel. So, of course, on my way home at 17:15 (that would be 5:15pm), I was stopped by the police.
I was ready for this, after all, I was driving with no license plates. I slowly pulled over. As I rolled down the window, I thought: “what the heck am I going to say to this man as I pull out the piece of paper???”. Having nothing else, I smiled at him and said “mire mengjes!”.
He laughed and waved me along. To this day, wherever I see him, he smiles and waves at the crazy gringa who said “good morning” when pulled over by the cops in the late afternoon.
Check out Part II.