Orientation

Day two of orientation is over.  The girls were going to go out to eat but I opted out and decided to eat at home instead.  I figure I’ll try to eat in more to save money, but I’m not sure that’s really the cheapest option, given most the markets around here are so expensive.

Anyway, I came home expecting my mom to be here.  Actually, at first I expected her to be here, but when I saw that she wasn’t, I realized it was silly for me to expect her to be home at two in the afternoon.  Of course she’s out exploring.  She loves this place.

As I made my way to the kitchen to make lunch (bread with salami, tomato, this amazing pepper cheese that I am obsessed with, and an egg over-easy on top), I came to the realization that this is what it will be like; this is how I am going to spend my next year.  Just me.  Initially the thought of this gave me a very lonely feeling.  But as I sit here writing in solitude in my cute little apartment, I’m starting to realize that I actually really like this.

Having the girls literally a couple doors down obviously helps a lot.  If it weren’t for that, I’m afraid I’d spend a lot of time by myself here at home.  But now that they are just a couple-second’s walk away, it’s easy for me to join them on their outings.  We’ve gone out a couple times and I have had so much fun.  They have been so welcoming.  I’m really comfortable with them, and I was able to come out of my shell relatively quickly.

I’m also glad we live so close so that I have someone to go to school with every day.  We have decided to take the water taxi most days over taking the bus.  It’s an amazing ride to take, and I definitely don’t mind doing it every day.  I was told when it gets to be the winter months and it’s cold and rainy, the bus might be a more pleasant mode of transportation, but for now, the water taxi is amazing.

Valletta, where my campus is, is absolutely beautiful.  I’m still in awe when I walk through the streets.  My campus itself is amazing.  It’s an extremely old building, and inside, there are old sculptures and artwork in the hallways.  It feels like you’re inside a museum.  Although the building itself is old, the classrooms are completely modern and new.  Since it isn’t the main campus, there are only three lecture rooms.  It’s tiny, but I absolutely love it.

After getting off the water taxi in to Valletta from Sliema, it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to walk to campus.  But it’s definitely a trek.  It’s all uphill, and there are a ton of steps.  The buildings are literally thousands of years old, and there’s this great wall surrounding the city as you approach it from the north side. It’s massive, a fortress meant to keep enemies from invading thousands of years ago. This place has so much history.  I definitely need to learn more of it so that I can be knowledgeable of this place I’ll be living and going to school at for a year.

Anyway, like I said, the walk from the water taxi to campus is quite the mission.  I’m always sweating by the time I get there.  Really great way to get my morning cardio, though.

There are four different dual degrees offered through the International Masters Programs at the University of Malta, each in collaboration with a different American university (San Diego State University, University of Maryland, George Mason University, and James Madison University).  The one that I am studying is the one that is a dual degree program through the University of Malta and San Diego State University.  Our program just started three years ago, and is the oldest one, so it’s all very new.

There are ten students total in my program: seven American students, two Maltese students, and one student from Finland.  Two of the girls and I live in Sliema, which has gorgeous views of Valletta and is amazing during the daytime.  Two of the other girls rooming together, as well as the two boys rooming together, live in St. Julian, which is moreso the nightlife district.  Both areas are right next to each other, so it’s only a 20-minute walk to get to either place from the other.

The Maltese people, as every person I have spoken to in the States have said, are extremely friendly.  They are so warm, and it is common for strangers to smile at you, greet you on the streets, many times start a conversation.  I’m actually Facebook friends now with my bank lady.

Where my classmates and I are living it is heavily populated with tourists.  Pretty much 80% of the people I see on the streets are tourists.  Some of the locals told me that in the summer months, it’s an amazing mix of just a ton of different cultures and people from all over the world, intermingling and just having a great time together.

Everyone has also emphasized how safe it is here, which I absolutely feel that it is.  Of course I need to make sure I’m still always aware, but this is definitely a place where I can feel comfortable living alone.  (While making wise decisions, of course.  Don’t worry, Mom and Dad.)

I’m finding it more and more difficult to accurately describe how surreal it feels to be here.  I can’t believe that I get to see what I see every day.  I can’t believe I get to live here.

I’m getting the hang of everything.  From using the Euro as my everyday currency, to working this shitty stove, to knowing what the right side of the road is to drive on, which is of course, the left (I’m beginning to look the wrong way for cars when I cross the street far less now).

I’m also forced to become more familiar with: Valletta, where I have to go every day for school;  Cisk, the Maltese beer (we found this tiny bar with a tiny pool table that sells a huge glass of beer for only 1.50 Euro); and last but not least, having way too much fun with my new friends in this beautiful place.  Yeah, I could definitely get used to this.

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