For one of my classes, we had to create a blog and post about certain topics that essentially talk about Malta vs. the US and different aspects of life, such as workplace norms, decision-making, gender and identity, family and households, public spaces, etc. I wanted to re-post something I wrote for that blog here, but before I do, here’s just a quick update, seeing as it’s been over a month since I last posted- I guess I was too wrapped up in my studies!
I did not go to Venice for Thanksgiving. Our residency permits have not come in yet and travel between the European borders has gotten much stricter in the last few weeks. If I were to leave Malta now without my permit, I would not be able to get back in. The permit should be here any day now though, as one of my roommates has gotten hers, so it’s just a matter of time.
I just started my last class of the semester- online Advanced GIS. So I will not be in class in person again until January, so I have a lot of time to work on my capstone development which is coming along.
It’s still warm here. It’s usually in the 60-70 range every day, so basically, I’m happy.
We hosted a Friendsgiving here at my house and had 18 people at dinner. It was almost like real Thanksgiving, except Malta apparently does not believe in pumpkin. Or turkey either, but no one really wants that on Thanksgiving anyway.
That’s all I have to update on at this point, so here is a post I just wrote for class- enjoy!
Most of my previous posts have touched on the differences between Malta and the United States and what the biggest obstacles to overcome and adjust to have been. Everything from the size (Malta is 122 sq miles compared to the 853 sq miles that make up my home in Rockingham County, VA) to the lifestyles to food and language and habits has presented a challenge for living here. These challenges have been crucial in order to fully become comfortable with the environment here overcoming them is an important step in being able to relax into our lives in Malta.
The catch however, is that the longer we are here, the more used to everyday aspects of life we become, but we simultaneously release that this is not a long-term investment. Yes, the skills we learn, the classes we take, the trials we go through are all going to be affecting us years and years down the road as they are contributing to our outlook on life and the things that we know and believe in about ourselves and the world. What is not long-term is our presence in Malta. We know that as of now, our time here is already 1/3 of the way over, and it’s only going to go faster. So as we continue to find ourselves successfully navigating the waters of Maltese life, we find that the closer we get to feeling as though we belong here, the closer we get to leaving. Yeah sure we could stay and live in Malta forever, but honestly, I don’t think any of us want to do that.
Malta is a great big stepping-stone for us to cultivate in ourselves whatever we need right now in order to go through the rest of life the way we want to. In our jobs, our families, our emotions, our successes and failures, trials and errors, happiness and sadness, we are using Malta to work through all of it before we move on to what will not just be the next chapter of our lives, but quite possibly the biggest, most crucial chapter, as it will be the time in which we have already determined who we are and what we want, and we will now go and do. I think that’s why I have so many issues with Malta. Because I am a doer. And being in Malta does not allow me to do much. I’m limited in resources, space, connections, and knowledge, and sometimes the fact that I have been on this rock for 96 days makes me feel like not a whole lot is going on in my life. But like I said, it’s a time for adaptation, growth, and flexibility, and now I’m learning to overcome those challenges from a new perspective.
Yes the environment in Malta is different. It’s going to be different everywhere you go, unless you find the similarities. And really, life is constructed on the same building blocks in all corners of the earth. We humans need food, shelter, water to survive. That’s something we all learned a long time ago an.We also need love, affection, comfort, and happiness if we’re going to do more than survive and this is true no matter where you are in the world. In our very first class in Malta however, we learned that there’s a whole lot more that we need in order to survive. We were asked to list the five fundamental qualities that we think we need in our lives. Mine were the following (keep in mind that these have room for alteration and are not definitive):
- Relationships/interaction with family and friends, i.e. LOVE
- Easy accessibility to nature: trees, rivers, mountains, open spaces, hiking locations
- Access to a creative outlet: painting, drawing, writing, photography
- Ability to enhance learning/education: reading, access to current events and news, etc.
- Access to music and art
So many times when I tell my friends that I miss them or I’m feeling nostalgic because of the holiday seasons, they respond by saying, “yeah, but you’re on a Mediterranean island!” Yes this is all good and well, but what’s the point of being on a Mediterranean island if all the people you love are halfway around the world? What if you don’t have access to the five fundamental qualities that allow YOU to live? Like I said, Malta is a stepping-stone, teaching me to live in a new environment, without some of the fundamental qualities that I deem necessary in my life. This isn’t bad, this is important. If I can’t learn to live differently, then everything that I claim to believe in and value is pointless. I treasure diversity. I can’t stand routine. I live by spontaneity. I crave adventure. I despise ignorance. So living in Malta is a blessing. I’m ensuring that I will not be ignorant about my lifestyle or what I think I need in my life to be able to live comfortably, and I am guaranteeing that I will not let the next 2/3 of my time here be a waste, just as I haven’t let the first 3 months go by pointlessly. Yes, environment can be different no matter where you go, but you really can’t let that throw you off. Embrace it, cherish it, don’t dwell on it, because isn’t that the whole point of being here?