Celebrating small victories

Today is my 2-month anniversary with Malta, so I thought I’d share a little more about our relationship.

Last week was rough.  Sometimes Malta is stupid.

And high-maintenance.  And abusive.  And dirty.  And painful.  Qualities that I tend not to look for, in anything really.

Sometimes everything “bad” happens at once.  Sometimes you get sick.  Sometimes you have a lot of homework and not a lot of sleep.  Sometimes you are walking back home from the grocery store and see your sick roommate walking towards you from the other direction and get too eager about finding out that she has severe tonsillitis and you fall down because you’re distracted and not watching where you’re going and you scrape your knees in front of a bus stop and two old ladies ask you if you’re okay and all you’re really concerned about is whether your peanut butter broke when you dropped your grocery bag (because everything is in glass jars over here).

Last week we had to get up quite early on our day off to head to the passport control office.  You know the DMV?  Yeah, this is worse.  We arrived when the number called was 11.  I was 43.  3 1/2 hours later it was finally my turn.  Did I get to become a resident of Malta?  NO.  I had a copy of my landlady’s husband’s ID card, rather than her ID card, and it was her name on the lease.  I needed to present this information as proof of my living situation.  I simply had the wrong ID card.

So.  Did all of the above “bad” things combined with getting denied (I already don’t take rejection well) make me a little upset?  Did I maybe start to cry in the office?  Yeah.  I waited for HOURS while being sick and sleep-deprived with bloody knees that made it hurt to walk and then I got rejected.  So my roommate, who also got rejected because of the same issue (obviously because we live together) and I went to eat lunch and felt as though we should have a drink.  “Let’s be unique,” we thought.  “Let’s try something new and cultural,” we thought.  Do not ever order a Maltese coffee.  It’s like Irish coffee, but gross.  The only thing left to do was go home and nap, which I did quite well.

Two days later we got up even earlier.  We got to the office before it opened, got a number (12 this time) and waited in line.  In and out in two hours, this time accepted.  I had the same lady as before, and I could tell she felt bad because she asked, “Are you doing better today?”  She also proceeded to ask all of my roommates how I was as well.  I guess they don’t get a lot of criers?  This time we all went out to get a drink to celebrate, and we made the right decision with the Irish coffees.  All around a much better experience.

I’m happy to report that I’m no longer sick, my knees are healing nicely, I have documented evidence that I have been accepted to be a Maltese resident, and I am currently working on my Thanksgiving trip plans to Venice.  So when Malta decides to be stupid, high-maintenance, dirty, abusive, painful, etc. it just all happens at once.  Now Malta is chill.  Actually no, Malta is still weird.  Daylight savings ended on Sunday, so for a brief 7-day period I am only 5 hours ahead of everyone at home, and as soon as I get used to doing the math, it will change right back to 6 hours.

Today while working on an assignment, a friend asked us how long we would want to live in Malta.  The response, which was quite unanimous, was “No longer than the 9 months that we will already be living here.”  Now I realize that the things I have been writing make it seem like I hate Malta.  I don’t.  No one hates Malta.  Please nobody think I am miserable here and hate it and want to come home, because none of that is true.  Like I said, sometimes Malta is just stupid.

How I’ve come to interpret it is this:

We started out in Phase 1: Euphoria.  We have since moved into something like Phase 4: Reality.  Don’t ask what the other phases were.  Malta’s not a big place (see #2 from this post).  What we have seen, we’ve seen a lot of, and what is left to see is not much.  If you know me AT ALL you know that I love adventure and new experiences, and since becoming more consumed with school, time for adventure has decreased.  People are constantly telling us that we should be eternally happy because we’re going to grad school in MALTA so nothing can possibly be bad ever.  We’re still going through life just like everyone else and Malta isn’t perfect.  I mean, they don’t even have Cheez-Its here.  We’ve gotten busy with school work, capstone and thesis projects, planning out Christmas and Spring break trips, and just dealing with life.  We don’t hate Malta.  It’s just that everything that is difficult is made even more so because we are in Malta.  We don’t have cars, we don’t know the Metric system, despite the fact that Malta is tiny, we can’t get anywhere in under 30 minutes.  Sometimes we just get frustrated at the limitations that are restricting us because, while we will soon be residents, we don’t live here.  We’re just passing through, and taking a little longer than most places we visit.

To conclude:  2 months goes by quickly, especially when absolutely every aspect of your life is different.  But a lot has happened in those two months, and I am genuinely looking forward to the next 7.  I’m formulating my capstone idea, I’m planning a few trips to the mainland (I don’t know if that’s what they call the rest of Europe here but I keep saying that I’m going to Europe for Thanksgiving and then I remember that I’m already there), I started volunteering with the Nature Trust and working with rescued hedgehogs (which are basically tiny living burritos), and I finally de-coded the postal system* as of today.  I’m still enjoying seeing the beautiful island sites and I’m always taking the opportunities to try something new!  I’m pretty sure that no matter how long I live here, I will never get tired of the views of the sea anytime I go, well, anywhere.

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So here’s to the next 7 months Malta- can’t wait to see what else in store!

*Story about the postal system:

I have been wanting to write letters/postcards to people back home and I’m sad to say that it took me exactly two months to send my first letter out.  It took a month to find the post office.  It took six weeks just to find envelopes, which come in a little booklet, and you just rip one out every time you need one.  I finally went back to the post office today to send my first letter, but I didn’t have stamps.  I purchased a sleeve of them (that’s 10) and the guy handed me a sheet of stamps.  It wasn’t until I got out of  line that I realized I didn’t know how to use them.  They have perforated edges and no sticky-ness.  I didn’t want to get back in line just to ask about tape (was I supposed to just keep a roll of tape in my bag in case I needed to send a letter?) so I asked a lady waiting off to the side how to put the stamp on the envelope.  She pointed to the corner of the letter and instructed me to put it there.  I assured her that of course I knew where to put the stamp, I just didn’t know how.  How silly of her to think that of me.  She enlightened me by showing me that there is an object on the counter on which you roll the stamp and it puts glue on the back.  Who knew?  BUT, now that I know, I cannot be stopped.

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