“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Malta.”

So the flight from LAX to London Heathrow flew by, and my mom and I were anxious to do some exploring in London since we had a good eight hours to spend until our flight from London to Malta.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to check in our bags until three hours before the flight, meaning we were stuck at the airport for all the whole day with all our luggage.  Oh well.

I really regretted not sleeping at all during the 11-hour flight to London while we waited in the airport (I ended up watching “The King’s Speech,” which I really enjoyed).  I slept through the entire three-hour flight from London to Malta as a result, and I could NOT WAIT to get to our hotel to a bed and sleep.

We arrived in Malta, got our baggage, and exited, looking for our driver from our hotel to pick us up.  Look for the yellow shirt, the confirmation voucher read.  We walk out, and the only yellow shirt I saw was some random thirteen-year-old boy’s Pikachu shirt.  I’m pretty sure he wasn’t our driver.

Then again, in hindsight, I probably would have rather had a thirteen-year-old boy show up to give us a ride than what we were left with.  No one.  No one came for us.  I went up to all the old guys holding up signs and none of them were for us. My mom went on her iPad to retrieve the confirmation voucher and get a telephone number, but there was no WiFi in the airport.

Luckily I had saved the voucher to my laptop, so we pulled it up.  The date read: 22-10-11.  Shit.

I pointed it out to my mom.

“No, this is right, the 22nd,” she said.

“That’s October, Mom.”

And then the fun began.

So we got a taxi instead and he took us to the hotel.  My mom was pissed, but I didn’t care.  Big deal, the dude didn’t show up.  At least we’re on the way to the hotel headed for our bed.  Wrong.

There was no record at all of our booked hotel room.  He looked up our name, and nothing.  And to make matters worse, they were completely full and had no rooms left.  They called every hotel on the street, nothing.  Oh, and by this time it’s 1:30 a.m.

Then finally they found a hotel with vacancies. They called for us, and told us that the hotel would charge a similar rate.  They had their employee walk us there.  It was a 25-minute walk.

So we lugged all of our luggage and bags off to the next hotel.  We get there (and I am soaked in sweat by this point) and the man is expecting us there because he received the call from the other hotel.  He told us the price, which was double the price that the other hotel was offering.  We told him that the other hotel said that the price would be far less, but the man said that it didn’t mean anything.  Then we asked if we could use their phone to call back the other hotel so that they could discuss the situation and perhaps work out a deal.  He said he was going to charge us for the phone call.  My mom went off on this guy.  (It was pretty funny.)

My mom, being the stubborn one that she is, wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of paying for anything: not a room, not a 25-cent phone call.  So we walked the 25 minutes back to the original hotel.

Now I’m posted in the lounge area of the original hotel.  This is where we’ll sleep tonight. At least they’re being really nice about it—they’re letting us sleep here and gave us blankets and towels to shower.  My mom says she feels homeless. * *

* * This is when my writing was interrupted by the nice receptionist man.  He informed us that he called up a hotel down the street that had a vacancy for us for a lot less than the other guy was offering.  He also told us that if we brought the receipt to them the next morning, they would reimburse us for our stay.  How nice!  So we packed up our stuff again and walked to the other hotel.

Definitely not the nicest hotel, and the beds weren’t made at the first room we walked in so we had to switch.  My mom, being the hardcore germaphob that she is, was pretty much disgusted.  But I didn’t care.  I was happy to see a bed.  By the time I laid down to sleep, it was 5 a.m.

We got up early to get ready to meet our real estate agent back at the first hotel, as were the original plans.  We decided to get there early to get our night’s stay down the street reimbursed.

Turns out, the man was completely wrong, and they aren’t going to reimburse us for that night’s stay.  All they could give us for his mistake was a free dinner that was worth about €50 less than we’d paid for the gross hotel room. AND they were already charging us for the night we DIDN’T stay at their hotel, and the following night.  And they were charging us more, since the amount we’d already paid for a month ago was for the October rate, not the September rate.

We spent a couple hours this morning trying to negotiate all the mistakes caused by all the miscommunication.  All the while, this lady we were talking to and my mom were on two completely different pages the whole time, so I pretty much played mediator/translator.  Pretty frustrating.

Anyway, now it’s Thursday, Sept. 22nd, and I’m sitting on the balcony of our hotel room while my mom is napping inside. I’m glad she decided to snore as loudly as she is, or else I wouldn’t be up here soaking it all in.

She’s been crazy stressed and upset for the past 24 hours, and it has REALLY been stressing me out.  I was told before I came here, and I’ve learned in several business classes at SDSU of the differences in culture, and the fact that around the world, people handle things very differently from one another.  There’s a lot less emphasis on customer service, I’d heard.  People aren’t as outwardly friendly, I’d also heard.  But I’d like to make these sorts of judgements for myself, and definitely not by the second day in.  My mom, love her to death of course, but she is already starting to make judgements.  I can see that, so it’s almost making me more aware of how not to react.

Through each of the stressful situations we’ve encountered, my mom has been the emotional one.  I’ve sort of been the one to calm her down.  My mom is a pistol.  At one point, I thought to myself that it would have actually been less stressful without her here, freaking out.  She stresses me the eff out when she’s in a bad mood.  But then I quickly realized that if she wasn’t here I’d probably have spent 80% of my time here thus far bawling my eyes out all alone on the street.  Are you kidding me? If no one showed up to pick me up at the airport at 1 a.m., I would have definitely lost it.

Sitting here on the balcony, with this view that I’m enjoying, I am completely at ease.  All the stresses of the day are sort of drifting away with this breeze.  I am so happy and feel so incredibly blessed.

I found an apartment that I love!  I move in tomorrow.  It’s nothing special, but it’s clean and tidy and it’s mine. It’s really close to school, in Valetta.  My program director and students from last year’s cohort suggested not to get a place in Valetta because it’s a more quiet town with old people (which I told my real estate agent, who then told me that’s where he lives…oops), and that the excitement is more so in other areas.  But I don’t really mind, everything is so close as it is.  This place is tiny.

One of my main obstacles that I’ve always had to work towards is learning not to stress out to much.  I’ve become a lot better.  I’m more able to sit back and put things in perspective. But I definitely could be better.

I can’t believe I’m here.  Is this real?  This view is amazing.  I’m so excited.

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