The beautiful 'arte nouveau' building at Balluta
DOOR KNOCKER - MDINA
VIEW FROM MDINA BASTIONS
FISHERMAN IN SLIEMA
Pics by Stephanie Spicer for Elanguest English Language School
When I landed a job at an ENGLISH SCHOOL IN MALTA, I knew very little about this island. I knew it was mentioned in the Bible. My sister had worked on a ship registered out of Valletta. I had once done some vague research for a story I was going to write, partially set here. But I really had no idea what the place was like.
I was in for a pleasant surprise. In fact, many pleasant surprises—I find that no matter how long people live here, they are always discovering something new.
The Heat and the Sea and the Clouds
I came here in July. It was hot. There was not a cloud in the sky all summer. The sea was clean and clear and comforting. It was also very quiet. When the season began to turn, the festa fireworks were replaced by a far more glorious natural festival: the sea rose, and the sky was filled with the most magnificent sky castles I have ever seen. I have never gotten tired of looking at them.
Malta can be a bit puzzling for those who don’t know her history. With just two weeks’ notice before my arrival, I didn’t have time to study, and have gradually learned here and there what is an incredible, ancient, and heroic story. Valletta alone holds so much to discover. Within her mighty fortresses lies an epic of impossible victory won, and a gleaming white city built to guard against future despots, and succeeding even in the age of military aircraft.
I was hesitant to move to Europe for one reason: anti-American sentiment. I was so pleasantly surprised to be met with kindness and friendliness when people asked where I came from. Maltese people are truly kind to foreigners. If you ask for help, they will go out of their way for you, and do far more than you asked.
The Middle East / Europe Connection
Malta’s proximity to North Africa and position in the crisscross of Mediterranean trade routes has given it a unique flavor somewhere between east and west. I had been to Europe before, but was surprised to find that Malta actually reminded me more of Mexico, in climate, colonial influence, and culture. There is also a distinct island culture here: relaxed and “small-town.” I love to walk along the street and say hello to people I know.
Some people will tell you that there is no countryside in Malta. Someone told me before I came here that there were no trees here! These allegations are simply not true. There is so much lovely countryside to see and explore here on the main island, but my breath was taken away when I saw Gozo. To rest your eyes on green when they are tired from the dust of summer, to hear birds singing in the cypress, fig, and olive trees, and to gaze out on sea and sky far from city lights, Gozo is the place to be.
Stephanie Spicer is from the United States and came to live in Malta in 2012. She works at Elanguest English Language School in St Julians, Malta -http://www.elanguest.com