Living in a New Country : Lesson #253 By: Les Doye

Well that’s different….

Malta, Malta, Malta… what else can I say but what you are all thinking, where the hell is Malta?

My home for the last 8 months or so has been a tiny, but beautiful island in the middle of the Mediterranean. And by tiny I mean a rock just about half the size of the CITY of San Diego (…I know right).

Probably like yourself, I had no idea about the country, the culture, the lifestyle, and especially the people of the place I would be getting my Master’s degree. But in a desperate last chance attempt to get the study abroad experience I always hoped for, I said “f*&^ it” and hopped on a plane.

Leaving my friends, my family and most of all my love, was just about the hardest thing I have ever done, but I didn’t (and still don’t) regret my decision. I’ll probably have more tidbits on all the things that come along with that later, but for now I’ll stick to the major differences that have really got to me and my newfound homies/lifesavers about this little “paradise.”

The Maltese people… some very nice, sweet, and kind, but more often than not my homies have had at least one or two mini freakouts/diva fits in the middle of the grocery store, side walk, bus… you name it… wait no I will:

#1: MOVE IT!

Although knights literally founded the beautiful island, chivalry is definitely not thriving up in this business. NO dudes will part the cement sea or even muster giving up an inch to allow someone coming towards them to pass. You are inevitably forced onto the narrow and friggin terrifying roads. Come on guys… i could have lost a toe by now.

#2: SMILE!… please?

You’re having a bright and sunshiny day that you can’t wait to share with the world, especially strangers, but ALAS you are shot down with some weird-ass stares and utterly no emotion from anyone you encounter… unless you run into some awesome Kiwis of course (oddly there is a large group of NZ natives on the island). All signs point to: Go take your happiness somewhere else foreigner.


As I was chattin’ it up with my wax lady (getting to real?), she told me that she would love to move to America (more like: “AMERICA!!! AHHHH I would LOVVVVEE to go to AMERICA! *no stereotyping I promise*) So, when I asked her why she said… “Because when you move to America, no matter where you are from you can become an American.” I kind of agreed, but she went on to explain that as a Serbian in Malta, she will never be Maltese, she’ll always be an outsider/foreigner/different/a threat to some Maltese girl, etc. And in a lot of ways I totally got where she was coming from, having felt the exact same way many nights out and even on the bus when they refuse to give me and my friends the resident rate. It’s just a feeling of never fully being accepted which I’m sure is not unique to the island, any expat has probably felt this way.

So now that you have read this… FORGET IT and take it for what it is, a rant from some foreigner who’s been pretty much stuck on an island for months! 🙂

You can’t LIVE (not just visit) somewhere new and not find things that you hate or people that piss you off. All the little things are part of the package, the adventure, the bummers and the sacrifice that come along with forcing yourself upon a new country (hey, they gotta deal with your over-smiley ass too.). And there is a major plus side. I’m on a gorgeous island, I’m learning so much about myself and others, and all these things and more have really brought me and the peeps from mine and  the other programs even get closer (including some awesome Maltese people!!).

So, here is to the WTF moments of living in a new place.



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