Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Malta Style!

It's happened.  I spent Christmas without my family...or did I?  Well let's take a look...


  • I got to Skype with my mom and sister early in the day so that I would be able to see my mom open her gifts that my sister and I got her.  I got to talk with her and spend some quality time with her, albeit on a computer.  I really miss her!
  • Later that evening I made dinner at home with Melissa.  We had cavatelli in a pumpkin sauce with pancetta and peas and arugula salad.  To drink? Delicious local Maltese red wine.  
(Being Puerto Rican, you get accustomed to a very specific menu for the holidays that includes Arroz con gandules, perníl or ham, potato salad and pasteles.  For drink, you can usually find a bottle of coquito along with plenty of other spirits, so not having any of that was definitely difficult but you make the best of it and my best was simple, delicious, and quite local).
  • After dinner Melissa and I exchanged gifts...she got me a beautiful satchel with cross body strap in a blush color (we are serious accessories girls and you can find some good stuff in Malta). 
  • We then went to Midnight mass at one of the very few churches here that give mass in English.  All I can say is that it was beautiful and inspiring.  The message?   “To listen"....listen to God, listen to yourself and chances are you will always find the right answers.  So profound.
  • After the service, we enjoyed coffee and hot chocolate as well as pastizzi's at the church.  A truly beautiful and authentic way to enjoy the night.
  • Woke up to a beautiful sunny and warm Christmas day.  Sun was shining, waters were calm and the air was warm but dry...simply perfect.
  • Had brunch with my roomie at a local restaurant that was truly amazing and SO CHEAP!!!  We are still confused as to how the food could be so good and so cheap, but it was.  
  • After, I quickly came home to shower and change to make my way to Marsaxlokk for a traditional Maltese dinner with my “mom away from mom", Violet and her parents.  “Marsa" means harbor and “xlokk" means south in Maltese and I can see where the village got it's name.  It is a small but beautiful village south of the island and your welcome into the village are two vineyards on either side of you while the main square is right on the water where all the colorful fishing boats are lined up and a beautiful gothic church is looking down on you...BREATHTAKING!  Violet met me in the square and we walked to her home.  It was such a lovely home with a beautiful conservatory and her parents are two of the most genuine and kind people I have ever met.
  • On the menu for dinner was: Broccoli and Cauliflower soup with potatoes and bacon(anyone who knows me, knows how much of a soup girl I am), main course was roasted rabbit (or as my sister said, I ate Thumper, listen when in Rome...just sayin') and roasted vegetables.  For dessert we had homemade mince pies that another teacher baked for us to share as well as homemade Baci made by Violet's mom.  We also had fruit salad in peach liqueur as well as local cookies.
  • After dinner, we sat in Violet's sitting room, she insisted I call my mom so I did (you never go against the insistence of the Maltese people, they are relentless, but in a way that really makes you feel cared for) and afterward we all just talked---about everything---school, students, how life in Malta has changed over the years, hobbies that her father used to partake in, how he is 78 years old and walks 7 miles a day, and what he did for a living as he worked as an Electrical Engineer for Commercial and Military ships, as well as travel,  just normal but very interesting conversation.  I was told by Violet's mom that she officially has an adopted daughter which for some crazy reason got me very emotional and I know it is because that when it comes time to leave, it can and will be so permanent:-(.
  • When I got home, I was able to Face Time with my sisters to wish them a Merry Christmas and to see my dad, who was in NY from Las Vegas.  We joked, we laughed, we talked about my sister Sam's upcoming trip to Malta.  I got to see all the food I was missing out on as it was cooking away in the kitchen and I got to see and speak to my nephew and ask him about all the things that Santa brought him (yes he is 11 and yes I still ask what Santa brought him as that is how it will always be!).  I even got to see and speak to my sweetart Megan, my pharaoh hound mix, she was resting but I called her name and she woke right up:-)...miss her terribly, my pretty girl! It was truly the perfect way to end the night.
So there you have it, my Christmas holiday in a nutshell.  As much as I refer to Violet as my “mom away from mom", Melissa, as well as Violet and her parents, are very much all family to me and during my time here are my “family away from family".  As I have stated previously, God knew what he was doing when Fulbright gave me and Melissa the grants for Malta; Melissa and I will forever be family, sisters from other moms, because we already are and we will always be able to see each other as we live in the Tri-state area, but to be able to develop this friendship with such a truly genuine and lovely family as the Rizzo's, a local family of Malta, really makes Malta hold a very special place in my heart.  These are people that I will miss terribly when I leave as I miss my family back home.  So as you can see, although this was not my traditional way of spending the Christmas holiday, that was really not important.  The “how" is not the important part, it's the “who" that is the important part.  I spent Christmas with my family, near and far, and enjoyed the holiday in a way that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  

MERRY (HAPPY) CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!  Now to ring in the New Year in good 'ole PARIS;-).

Until next time!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Not your average school Christmas production...My girls made me so proud!

Yesterday was the school Christmas show at the Girls' Secondary School where I work.  Now, you may be thinking that it was your average show with band and choral performances, well you are wrong.  Actually very wrong.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  All week I heard how teachers were frustrated by the fact that students were being pulled from lessons in order to rehearse and I can certainly sympathize with such frustrations because it is the last week before break and the students have their exams in February, unlike us Americans who don't have them until much later in the year.  So as seems to be the growing educational trend, it's all about making sure that they are prepared for the exams.

Well, I have to say I am pleasantly surprised to know that such efforts were made for rehearsals because the production I saw yesterday was one purely imagined and executed by the students themselves.  They do not have art, music, dance or any sort of other creative-outlet classes.  They take on the sole responsibility of putting this performance together, they come up with choreography on their own, they choose the songs they want to sing and choose the theatrical performance pieces.  All forms take part and all I can say is that I am so proud and even floored by the talent I witnessed yesterday.  There were sets, costumes, makeup, you name it and again, all of this was solely done by them.  So, what does that tell us?  It tells us that creative outlets are just as important as academics.  They provide for confidence building, freedom of expression and help ignite a passion and love for something.  All pivotal components to developing into a well-rounded individual.

The girls supported each other, cheered and sang along to songs and were just so pumped to have the opportunity to show what they could do.  I was able to take pictures and video but am unable to share  for obvious reasons but I really wish I could.  I saw future So You Think You Can Dance talent and X Factor/Idol talent.  These gifts are not always encouraged and performances such as these are not so common here so it made me feel really great to be part of a school, that may not have the resources to offer such programs, but still allows the students to release their creative energy and have their moment to shine.  It was a beautiful moment to witness and it made me so proud to see lots of my students up there dancing and singing (solo) and just looking genuinely happy.

On Tuesday, I ran into one of my favorite students, 'C', and she came up to me and said “MS. RIVERA, MS. RIVERA, may I have a hug?" To which I replied “of course you can", I began to ask her about her day and if she was performing in Christmas show and she said “YES, I'm singing Jar of Hearts". She along with a couple of other students of mine asked me quite seriously about whether I would be attending the show and I told them “Yes, I wouldn't miss it for the world, I know how talented you all are so I'm very excited to see you perform".  They giggled and jumped up and down like your normal teen girls do and said “Ms. Rivera, I love you, you are a wonderful teacher, our favorite teacher, you support us" and as I walked away, they blew kisses at me...great way to end the day right? Well just imagine how I feel now knowing what I know about the performance I saw yesterday.  As Mastercard says...PRICELESS.  This will forever be one of my most precious moments here in Malta.

Until next time...



After a lengthy and time consuming process, I finally got my residency permit for Malta.  When you come to Malta you are automatically given a three month permit that allows you to travel back and forth.  When you apply for the permit, you are then given a temporary permit that is good for six months, however, once you apply and your three month permit is up, you are not allowed to leave Malta as you will, naturally, not be allowed back in. So given that I leave for Paris in 9 nine days and my three month permit expired on Wednesday, you could imagine my concern.  As with most processes here, it's all about follow up.  I applied back in October and had to get the International office at the University involved to get status on the permit because as with most gov't agencies anywhere, god forbid they answer a phone.  No stress though because I have it, I'm officially a resident of Malta so life is good:-).  Merry Christmas to me and bring on Paris!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where I was, Where I am and Where I'm Going....The 3 month Mark

Today marks three months in Malta and all I can say is time truly does fly.  I have come to that crossroad where I see my time left here as no real time at all because if three months can go by so quickly, a little over five months is nothing.  In organizing paperwork, I came across papers of things from when I first got here and it seems like so long ago.  I was able to see for the first time how much I have changed and things have changed.  Simply put....I've grown.  I've been able to prove something to myself that I'd always wondered about....I did the unthinkable, or what seemed like the unthinkable just three short months ago.  I moved to another country, away from family and friends and everything comforting and familiar, had many a “what the hell did I do?" moments and now I look back at that time as what it was always meant to be ...a stepping stone...a growth process.

So where am I now? Well to be completely honest I still find myself, from time to time, in a place where I ask that ever-loving question “What have I done?", or better yet, “where the heck did I move to?", just not as often because the truth is I have grown to love being here and am truly enjoying my time here.  It is home, albeit temporary, but home nonetheless.  I have settled into my teaching assignments, enjoy them greatly and enjoy the company of whom I work with.  The Maltese remind me a little of my fellow New Yorkers in that we are not the easiest people to deal with or get to know and neither are the Maltese, it takes a while for them to warm up to you, sometimes I like to think the reasons are obvious as to why.  However, when they do, their warmth and graciousness is really comforting and even overwhelming.  One teacher I work with, Violet, is a godsend of a colleague but she is also very much what I like to call “a mom away from mom", she brings me home cooked meals on Mondays that either she or her mother have made.  Her mother actually puts food aside for me, she's looked out for me when I have been sick and invited me to her home for Christmas dinner because she wants me to meet her family...more surprisingly...they want to meet me. That means the world to me.  To be welcomed and looked after is something that feels so wonderful and is something that is much needed, whether one wants to admit it or not.

These last three months have given me quality time to reflect, to be in the moment but to also see where this time, this moment, can take me and little by little I see the endless possibilities before me and that is both exciting and scary.  I am acutely aware of the bubble I live in here and that I will never live in such a peaceful, laid back yet fulfilling bubble again, even with everything that has stressed me here.  For that I am grateful because before now, I never thought such a moment in time would ever be possible and it is.  This is my moment in time and I am savoring every minute.

It would not be a “month mark" blog post without a recap, so here we go:

  • Arriva bus system and drivers are still crazy, but what's even crazier, is for every short stop or sharp turn or lack of concern for schedule, it just rolls off of me.  I watch tourists freak out on the buses and fall forward and I...laugh...if I even notice anything at all. HA!
  • Coffee...what's that?!?!?!  Nuff said:-(
  • Fashion...yeah still hasn't reached here unfortunately, makes Christmas shopping virtually real options on the island and no easy way to ship any real clothing here so really smart move on my part to choose Malta or in the wise words of my nephew..."or was it"...because let's be honest, it saves me money:-).
  • Making it here was definitely God's handy work because I have experienced some of the most precious moments in my life here from being blessed with a roommate and fellow ETA that has become family to me, to developing a working relationship and friendship with a teacher where I am able to express my ideas and feedback and having them become like family (none an easy fete here), to sharing an unexplainable bond with the ETA's that I know no one will ever understand or get but us, to having students show love and appreciation for what I am trying to do here, to being able to look out on my balcony and see the sun shine and the ocean sway...certainly not something I would have ever expected.
  • On a not so mushy topic, there are things about Malta's school system that I wish I could fix with a magic wand, boys and girls do not know how to properly interact with each other because they are kept separated and the evidence can be down right disturbing at times because it is clearly due to a lack of exposure. And there is not enough room in this blog to discuss the unfortunate similarites that I see between the Maltese school system and the NYC school system that lead me to question what is happening in the world of Education as a whole, where are we going wrong?
  • I love that I find it humorous everytime now when I hear some of my most difficult students address me, for “Ms.ReeeveerAAA" will NEVER get old.
  • Nothing is more challenging than 12-14 year old girls questioning your every move and your reason for being on their turf. A challenge I gladly accept.
  • I openly admit that I did not give some of my students enough credit on their views of the world, however, it saddens me a bit to know that because Malta is limited when it comes to certain resources and opportunities, they could miss out on a lot because this is all they know.
  • For most things said above, I know I still have a little over 5 months here to really try to push the envelope, make a difference and most importantly to make my students aware that the word opportunity is not just a word but something they should aim for.  I have students that are really bright and some that are genuinely talented and they should know it and should always be made aware that anything is possible.  They should know that for every time they beg me to bring them home with me, it's a moment they are putting it out into the universe that they want more for themselves and they should!
On my way home from University today, I stopped to get lunch at one of my favorite local eateries, Mint, and I was asked by the owner how long I had been here and I realized that it was three months ago today that I arrived in Malta.  It was a bit of a whoa moment because with each month that passes they become more and more of a blur, which is not cool, hahaha.  I decided to walk home along the promenade from the restaurant and on my walk home, I just took the time to take it all in.  This is real, this is now, this is a moment that has and will continue to change me and my view on things and what I decide to do with my life, for the rest of my life, forever. 

I look forward to those changes especially with the holidays around the corner and the new year about to begin.  I can say with much joy and excitement that I look forward to the next 5 or so months because I am excited for visits from family and friends, to share my life here with them, it is no more just a place they will visit, but my home they will visit and that is very exciting.  I look forward to more travel adventures and most importantly, more “teacher" moments because that is what this experience is all about.  For every smile I get from students when I tell them I will be here until June and for every time a teacher tells me how much they appreciate having me around,  I know I am exactly where I am meant to be, helping, growing, learning and educating.  Making an attempt to make my mark.  This is the Fulbright life, but most importantly, it's my life and I only see it getting better as time goes on.  Pretty exciting stuff if you ask me:-).

Happy Holidays Friends and here's to a New Year filled with lots of opportunity, prosperity and happiness for all.


Sunday, December 16, 2012


My friend Lauren, who teaches in Germany, told me that “the Christmas markets are one of my favorite things about Germany, I love the way the Germans do Christmas". This comment helped get me excited for my weekend in Munich because I must be honest, Germany was not originally on my list of places to visit while in Malta.  The idea of visiting the markets came about on a bus ride home from the Notte Bianca Festival in Valletta back in September when Melissa and I realized that we would really need to do things to keep us in the holiday spirit given that we would not be with our family or friends.  We thought what better way to celebrate Christmas than to head to one of Germany's markets.  And so, thanks to good old modern technology and smart phones, Melissa was able to begin researching on her phone, while on the bus.  This not only got us excited about the holidays but also provided a much needed buffer to Paceville's finest traveling on the bus with us.

Deciding on Munich was fairly easy and so we began searching for flights and a hotel.  I will say I am IN LOVE with LUFTHANSA and  Lufthansa is an amazing airline unlike any other I have flown and has come through for us with amazing hotels and rates.  Flights were great, transport to our hotel wonderful and efficient and so began our weekend.  We were welcomed to Munich with snow which I felt was just so fitting since we had not seen snow in a really long time and it just made for a great kick off to the weekend.  I have to say, immediately I understood what Lauren was talking about.  The Christmas Markets, simply put, are like walking around a live Hallmark movie or Winter Wonderland.  We were able to visit the Marienplatz Market, the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) Market and the Tollwood Winter Festival.  All were very different, very cool and an experience all their own.  The one constant at all three was the Glühwein.  This is a mulled, hot red wine that is a necessity to survive the cold all the while being absolutely delicious. A win/win if you ask me.

We saw many a booth with handmade ornaments, mangers, foods, and desserts; enjoyed many a mug of  Glühwein, a great meal and beer at a local Bierhall and Starbucks coffee! All major scores for us. I have to say, although not a fan of Starbucks coffee (more of a latte/hot chocolate girl there), I love their Christmas blend, a must try! To get you in the spirit of Christmas at the Markets, there were Carolers, Carousels, Horse and Carriages and your fill of fake Santas. 

Munich, as a whole, is a beautiful city, with an efficient transportation system that offered all one would want from visiting such a place-beauty, history,  great shopping and convenience, all with the added bonus of the magic of Christmas.

What more could a girl ask for:-).



Monday, November 19, 2012

Round 2: The 2 month mark!

Yes friends the 2 month mark has hit!  And I have to say even faster than the 1 month mark (or at least that is what my sister said).  I have officially been in Malta 2 months today.  It feels weird.  Everything that happened before leaving seems so long ago or as if it never happened.  When I think about when I first got here until now, it doesn't even seem like it's part of the same time frame or event. Again...Weird.  But it all is and all it shows is how much this is all a growth process and an adjustment.  Funny what you can get used to in such a short amount of time.

So here's my recap of things I've learned and what has happened:

  • Still thankful for my roomie Melissa, we definitely go through some pretty frustrating days here and it makes it all the better to have someone you can vent it out with (or do the occasional Christian Bale ‘Good for you' impression with:-)...that moment is just so relevant in so many situations).
  • I am definitely (and finally) feeling a sense of adjustment and community at home and in my school placements. I am really enjoying my time in both the Secondary School and the University because I work with some pretty amazing teachers and have some pretty awesome students.  Being able to sit back and watch a student give a presentation and allow myself to take in the surroundings is a really intense moment when you have that realization of where you are and what you are doing. I have come to realize how big this is for me and have learned to be proud of myself for being where I am and for having been able to accomplish this. GO ME! (and US to my fellow ETA's).
  • The Arriva bus system is still the most annoying thing in existence, however, you know you have moved on when you can laugh at the insanity of the bus drivers (wonder if that makes me a little insane too...hmmm?).  Either way, they are so insane they deserve their own reality show (personally I think insanity is a requirement for reality t.v.). Cursing customers out, driving off on people, playing cat and mouse with pedestrians...yep that would make for some entertaining t.v. time!
  • Still struggling in the coffee department.  I face timed with a friend yesterday and she asked “what is the one food you miss, is there anything you are missing right now"?  Coffee immediately came out my mouth.  A nice large Dunkin Donuts cup would be a dream come true right now.  Funny thing is that I was not a major coffee drinker back home but because it is such a comfort drink for me, I am having a very hard time with not having good coffee!
  • I still miss my dogs terribly, so hard without them!  I miss them so much that I really do foresee me volunteering my time at the SPCA in Floriana to be able to get my doggie fix.
  • Men and fashion still don't go hand in hand here, for the most part unfortunately, but it is what it is ...again you just learn to let go and move on:-).
  • Still never tire of being able to walk the promenade on a random night for that pivotal Coca-Cola run to McDonald's or for bubble tea or gelato.  It just never gets old and is really the most relaxing perk of where I live.  So grateful for that.
  • The Maltese are very loud and passionate speakers (and for all I know they could just be saying 'hi' to someone) and this makes me happy because I think of home and makes Malta feel a little like home because us Puerto Rican folk are about as loud and passionate as it gets...but you know, it's not yelling:-).
  • Now for the big moment:  I have officially been able to prove to myself that I can live away from my family and friends (and dogs) and the world didn't end because of it (dramatic I know, but I needed to drive the point home).  I wasn't sure if I would ever get over that hump of feeling homesick.  I still miss home terribly, don't get me wrong, but life seems surreal here most of the time and believe me when I tell you I am not living a particularly glamorous life.  School and home with an occasional visit to a restaurant, festival or day out shopping is the norm, but it is surreal and I know I will never have it this good again so while I am here I must make the most of it!  Nothing can be taken for granted because this will all be over in 7 months (whether good, bad or indifferent) so just trying to take in every moment of everyday. Carpe Diem, Y.O.L.O. and whatever other fitting mantra that suits my point you can fill in here______!
  • Now having said that, the other key point proven?  A 6 hour time difference is too long and Malta is too far but it'll do for now:-).
As Thanksgiving approaches, my reflection on the last month has been one of learning acceptance and acknowledging the blessings I do have in my life.  I know some things for sure, I will continue to grow, personally and professionally (BLESSING as we should never stop growing),  there will be good days and bad days or as one prior ETA put it “the highs will be really high and the lows will be really low" (BLESSING because that is life, you take the good with the bad and it's what you do with it that matters).  I have a loving and supportive family, amazing friends and have had and will continue to have once in a lifetime experiences whether good, bad or indifferent (BLESSING because it shows me I am living life, simply living life)!  So I end this post with a part of a song I think is very fitting to my 2 month mark and how I am feeling about things right now in general.  The song is called On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons:

I coulda gave up then but

Then again I couldn’t have ’cause
I’ve traveled all this way for something

Now take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take it with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world".

I'm on top of the world friends because LIFE.IS.GOOD!  Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Until next time!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

“Today was a GOOD day"...

Yes I'm quoting Ice Cube because today was a good day!  Why you ask, well here's why:

Highlight #1: Taught a lesson with one of my Form 3 classes (13-14 year olds).  This class is a “lively" class that was a little hard to get through to but seem to really be coming around.  So much so that they begged for me to take over the lessons every week.  I personally think they just really enjoy having someone new who happens to be a native English speaker but when I began the lesson they were quiet, attentive and participated actively.  Seeing the smiles on their faces and how their demeanor changed whenever I would compliment their work spoke eons.  It was a really good teaching moment!

Highlight #2:  There is a class that is known as the difficult class due to a few students who make it very difficult to teach period.  They are so difficult that they give even the worst of them a run for their money.  The sad part is that these girls are Form 2's so they are between 12-13 years old.  I can't even begin to imagine what they will be like as they get older, it is seriously that scary of a thought.  Well, one teacher, whom I adore working with, had them today for the 3rd lesson and was a little sad that I was not joining her for the lesson (I have to admit I was as well because I worry for her as it really works on her when the girls are completely out of control).  So with great anticipation I made my way back to the staff room, to wait for said teacher to ask her about the lesson.  To my WONDERFUL surprise, she had a huge smile on her face and said “I was able to do the entire lesson, 'C' did not say a word and 'K' actually participated, no issues, we got through the entire lesson".  Well what happened next was a moment of all moments.  The entire staff room erupted in cheers, applause, fist pumps, you name it.  All the teachers began asking her what she did, what was her secret? It was as if she was a celebrity of sorts.  She looked like she was ready to cry, sooo happy and soooo relieved.  A moment she greatly deserved and I was so happy to witness and be part of!

Highlight # 3: As a group we all got together and ordered lunch and ate as a group.  Most of us had Chinese and it was wonderful just to sit there, enjoy a good meal and good conversation.  For the first time, I really felt like I was part of the staff.  Also thought it quite hilarious that they were completely intrigued by the fact that I know how to use chopsticks.  It became staff room conversation as to how well I use them and why it is I know how to use them so well.  I'm thinking Asian cuisine is not a norm in Malta.

Highlight # 4:  2 teachers began singing Christmas Carols in Maltese and as much as other teachers asked them to stop, they kept doing it and I loved it!  I love all things Christmas, especially the spirit of the season but I just loved the silliness of it all.  They knew they were driving people crazy but did it for fun, for a good laugh, to bring some lightheartedness to the group and in the end, people had smiles on their faces and were laughing.  That's camaraderie at it's best!

Highlight #5:  Closing the day reminding one of your teachers that you are not in on Wednesdays because you teach at the University and having her tell you, and I quote: “I actually don't like Wednesdays because I have gotten so used to having you in class with me in such a short amount of time, that I have grown to enjoy having you there to work with you and bounce ideas back and forth that I miss it when I don't have a lesson with you, thank you so much for all you do, it really has been such a pleasure working with you, I enjoy it and the students enjoy it, you really have come a very long way in a very short amount of time which is not usually how it goes here" is PRICELESS.

These are the moments that really matter, the little things that just put a smile on your face or allow you to walk away feeling really good about yourself and what it is you are doing.   So yes friends today was a good day, a really good one, so good in fact, I am thinking there will only be better days to come.

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

“To Travel is to Live" ~Hans Christian Andersen

If there is anything you should know about me (aside from the fact that I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world to have 2 of the most amazing women in “my" world for my sisters, and the fact that I absolutely love dogs) is that I LOVE TO TRAVEL!  There is no greater thing in the world to do than to board a plane to a new country, wander aimlessly in a city, allowing yourself to be in the moment, all the while taking a few (hundred) pictures for remembrance sake.

See, I grew up in the Bronx, in a working class family where family vacations were not an option simply because there was no money to do so.  As I got older, I realized it was something I wanted to make sure I got to "experience", yeah well that “experience" has become a priority.  Traveling renews me, it fulfills me but it also reminds me that I do have a home, a base and for me, there is no greater reason to make a point to do it.  It allows you to see what you are missing out on, to experience something so different from your norm, an escape if you will, while at the same time, reminding you that you have a home, a place where you completely belong.

This past weekend I got to take my first trip (hopefully of many during my time in Malta) to Stockholm, Sweden.  It was a celebratory weekend trip for Melissa and I as a way to mark the one month mark in Malta.  Yes, we decided to celebrate by voting ourselves off the island.  Allow me to explain...Malta is small, like really small, so small that even the locals will tell you more often than not that they feel stifled here, almost trapped because the only way off the island is via plane or boat.  Well, I can honestly tell you that this NY'er right here, knew exactly what they meant immediately.  Don't get me wrong, Malta is beautiful, and more importantly, it's a genuine place where you can
have a truly authentic European experience, unlike most European countries that are now so watered
down for tourisms sake that it ruins the entire experience, but it is small and really hot/humid, even in November.  So what better way to celebrate the month milestone on my Fulbright adventure than to go somewhere completely opposite of Malta.

When we landed in Stockholm, I walked out of the plane and the first thing I did was inhale the cold air.  People were running for the doors to get inside the airport but Melissa and I just stood there and let the cool air wash over us.  It was GREAT!!!  SOOOO REFRESHING!!!  It is not freezing there this time of year so it was just the right temperature.  Now, the only "downside" to the trip (not that it really was) was that we flew Ryan Air so of course it's airport is one of the furtherest ones from Stockholm.  So aside from the fact that we lived out our very own version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, I can honestly say that there is nothing bad to say about Stockholm.  It was the perfect place to go as a first trip.  Different from my norm, a place I have never been and another positive
was that it had GREAT COFFEE!!! Like REAL COFFEE!!!! AND Hot Chocolate served in bowls,
yes bowls!  It was heaven!

Stockholm is, by far, the cleanest city I have ever visited, has one of the most efficient and cleanest transportation systems, offers amazing shopping and site seeing, has some of the friendliest people I have ever come in contact with and is easy to navigate.  It is a walking city, a family and dog friendly city (you can travel with your dogs on public transport-AWESOMENESS AT IT'S BEST) and it manages to balance urban and country setting like no other city. But the key thing about Stockholm, that even trumps the fact that you can travel with your dogs and that they have amazing coffee, is that it is a really safe city, probably one  that I have felt safest in aside from Sliema here in Malta (or most places in Malta actually as Malta is a very safe place as well).  It also has amazing hotels and glorified hostels near the airport to save you from having to travel to the airport at 2am for a 6:30am flight!

The architecture, winding streets, canals and bridges just really make it such a beautiful city.  We got to spend the day in Gamla Stan (Old Town), see the Royal Palace, go on a boat ride on the Royal Canal, visit the Vasa Museum (AMAZING!!!!) as well as Skansen Park.  It was certainly too short of a trip but worth it nonetheless. For all of the walking we did, it was relaxing because that is the vibe there, laid back and relaxed, what more could you ask for from a weekend trip.  It is an expensive city but if you do your research, it is definitely a manageable place to visit and well worth it!

I have done my fair share of traveling (and now I can add Stockholm to that list), moved to a foreign country a little over a month ago and took my first trip away from Malta that allowed me to solidify Malta a little more as home as it is my base for the next 7 months where I will continue to return to from any other trip I take.  Munich Christmas Markets are up next in 3 weeks followed by Paris for New Years.  We only have one life to live, one shot to make it our own, to live it our travel is MY way to live.


Sunday, November 4, 2012


This week, the unthinkable happened to my hometown of New York City.  It was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, as were most surrounding areas in New Jersey, Long Island and Upstate New York.    I have to admit, this hit hard for me and was that one eye-waking moment that made me not enjoy being so far away from my family.  I was scared, I was concerned, I was worried, but more importantly, I was helpless.  Ugh, how I hate that word and feeling.   This was a full on storm that destroyed homes, took lives and left “the city that never sleeps" drowning and burning.  Never in my life did I ever think I would see the day that the subway system would have to be shut down for days on end or that NYC schools had to be closed for a week because of a “natural disaster".  As I read articles, facebook statuses and looked at pictures of the devastation left behind in it's wake, I could not and still cannot believe it is real.  But it is and the unfortunate thing is that I whole-heartedly believe that this storm has brought on a new dawn for us East Coasters.  I have been saying it for years that eventually we too would endure hurricanes and massive storms and the scary part is that we are not built for them, nor do we have the same mindset as those that are used to such extreme weather conditions.

When I heard that the Red Cross was holding a telethon to help raise money to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy, all I could think about were the recent telethons held for the Tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Katrina, and the Haiti earthquake and how much more surreal this made it for me.  Yet another “never thought I'd see" moment.  Well, one thing is for sure, I may be thousands of miles away but I will do my part.  I have made my donation and will continue to take part in any efforts that I can while here in Malta until I return home, because NYC is my home and the home of my family so we have to come together to help repair our home.

Mother Nature beat on us badly this week but if there is one thing I know for sure and am truly proud of, is knowing that we are a city made up of fighters, people who understand what it is to struggle and what it takes to survive a struggle.  We are a tough city, a strong city and we will be an even better city because of this.  I ask that you stand together and work together to make NYC the greatest city in the world.  Get involved, use your voice and help rebuild your community.  In many ways, we were due for an overhaul and I think that Mother Nature gave us that push.  So move with it in a positive direction!  Change is never easy and never pretty but I have faith NYC, do me proud.  I want to be able to brag about how well my city is recovering from this to those here, but more importantly to show them that we are a people to be reckoned with.  

Frank sang it best “If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere, it's up to you New York, New York"

Now show the world whatcha got!

I Love You, New York City!  Keep your head up, your faith strong and your heart pure and nothing will be able to stop us!

God Bless!

My technorati short code is D2MEYBBZAZ48 

Trip to the Department of Immigration + My Travel Coffee Thermos = A Cultural Exchange of Sorts...

Above is a picture of my travel coffee thermos.  I make coffee (or again a very sad example of coffee as it is instant) in the morning to take with me to school.  Now, the thermos looks normal, right?  Nothing out of the ordinary or extravagant.  It is probably a 10oz. or 12oz. thermos, nothing crazy, just...standard.  Well, what if I told you that this thermos or any thermos of this size is apparently an American detection device?  That carrying this thermos, alerts the public in Malta that an American is in their midst.  No, I'm actually not even kidding.  Sounds ridiculous, right? Of course it does when you come from the land of the Grande's, Venti's, Super-sized and Big Gulp's (well, maybe not the last two thanks to Mayor Bloomberg thinking it is more important to focus on the size of drink a child is 
consuming, instead of focusing on real issues like the failing NYC Public School System or the 
homeless situation or the MTA issues NY'ers face everyday, or more recently, focusing on how to help NY'ers after Hurricane Sandy, sorry I digressed, but clearly, there are more important issues to tackle here than placing sanctions on the size of beverage one wishes to consume).

I am sure you are scratching your head and wondering what this has to do with my trip to the Department of Immigration or how this trip turned into a cultural exchange of sorts.  Well, here goes: 
About a week ago, Melissa and I got up at the crack of dawn to make our way to the DOI in Valletta to process our paperwork for our residency permits.  Given our experiences with government offices back home and the several warnings to “get there early", we took no chances.  Well, for me that meant rolling out of bed and taking my coffee to go.  We get to the office and boy did it feel like home.  Ticket dispenser on the ready for you to take your numbered ticket, ticket number counter up on the wall and even a group of Americans to really make it feel like any other day at the DMV (I kid you not, I said to Melissa "I feel like I'm at the DMV" and minutes later an American walks in and says "this is the DMV on steroids" seriously, I'm not even kidding and actually neither was he).  

We sat and waited, went through our paperwork to make sure all was in order and continued to wait some more, but surprisingly, not much more.  They started calling numbers...and FAST!  I was number 90 and it started at 71...only 19 ahead of me but I was thinking it would be some time before they got to my number.  Boy was I wrong.  The DOI gives you about a 2 second window to claim your number before they move on to the next number;  that would never happen in the States (mainly because people are always ready with their numbers only to, most of the time, be left in a state of confusion or frustration which in turn takes lots of time, no matter what office you are visiting).  It was so fast that when my number got closer, I actually got nervous because I was afraid I would miss my mark, no seriously, it was going that fast.  The number 89 came up on the counter and Melissa looked at me and said “get ready, you're next".  Sure enough, in the blink of an eye, 90 was called and I jumped up and went into the office.

Now, I want you all to think for a second about anytime you have ever had to go to a government office (DMV, Passport, SS Office, etc.).  Think about how you have been greeted (that actually makes me chuckle) and how you have been treated.  Okay, I am sorry if I made you angry, annoyed or frustrated in any way for having to think up such an unpleasant thought, but I was ready for that exact sort of moment, mainly because of unpleasant past experiences.   Much to my surprise, I was greeted with a smile AND a "Good Morning".  Wait, what???  Hold up! Where am I? Now that, I was not expecting.  I even looked around to make sure the man was speaking to me.  I have to say,  the person that helped me process my paperwork was pleasant and helpful to the point that I feel New York could take few lessons...for the most part, at least.  

Remember the coffee thermos?  Yeah well for all of the pleasantries exchanged between said guy and myself, the minute I whipped out my passport, he thinks it funny (with a bit of a sly smirk on his face) to say " I should have known you were American because of the size of your coffee cup, you Americans and your large coffee cups" (uses hands to show large size cup). Now it was early in the morning, frankly, too early for me to deal with any nonsense, so you know I had something to say.  My response was, and I quote, " Given that all you offer here in Malta is instant coffee which, in fact, is not even real coffee, kinda need the bigger cup to help try to give me some sort of caffeine kick" (all said with great sarcasm in my voice, don't worry my Bronx and NYC people, this girl right here knows exactly where she comes from). Said man's reaction...complete deer in headlights, like "oh heck, pushed the wrong buttons there" sort of look.  Needless to say, after that he was very pleasant and efficient as I was done processing my paperwork within minutes and he even felt it necessary to comment on how impressed he was with all of my traveling (as he literally went page by page in my passport-awkward much?).  He proceeded to tell me that he has only traveled through Europe (hey at least he has actually stepped off the island, you'd be surprised to know that there are many that haven't)  never to the States (UH CLEARLY!) but that he really wants to visit the States, especially New York ( of course, who doesn't).  I smiled, gave him the "may I have my passport back now , please" sort of look, paid my fee and was on my way.

There are 3 lessons to be learned here friends: 1. is the old adage "Don't judge a book by it's cover" (I did by the look of the office and was pleasantly surprised to find that it ran much more efficiently than I had anticipated), 2. "Know your audience" (said man thought it cute to call me out on being American simply because of the size of my coffee cup, and in turn, got a true lesson on knowing when you are in the midst of an American as I gladly gave him a piece of my mind to let him know I did not appreciate him trying to criticize us with the coffee cup comment) and 3. "Don't throw stones at glass houses" (because you never know when someone may have a rock ready to be thrown instead).   There is plenty I could have said, but I chose to be the bigger person by saying my part and nothing more and in the end he understood where I was coming from and what I was there for, which was for him to do his job and process my application. Mission Accomplished!


Friday, October 26, 2012

First day of University...Not as a Student, but as Lecturer...and “Good Cop"?

I think it's wise to give you some background on what my Fulbright assignment is here in Malta so that the title makes sense to you.  As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malta, your responsibilities, in a nutshell, are to work as an English teaching assistant in Secondary Schools (the equilvalent of Middle School to early High School in the States), teach an English related course at the University of Malta (U o M) as well as collaborate on research projects through the university and/or on our own in the Secondary schools, along with making time for volunteer work.  We started our Secondary school assignments a couple of weeks ago but it wasn't until this past Wednesday that we started the U o M course.

Now if you recall from my "month mark" blog, I originally thought that the U o M assignment would be one of the lesser favorable aspects of my Fulbright responsibilities because, well to be quite honest, I have never taught university students.  My teaching experience extends mainly to Elementary school students (or Primary as they say in Europe) and minor experience working with the H.S. level.  So as you can imagine this was a bit daunting for me.  Given that the entire framework for the course was being redesigned somewhat added to the anxiety, but it is a core requirement of the fellowship, so basically it's do or die.

Well, let's just say what came of the two hours was something I would've never expected, not after the first class anyway.  I LOVED IT!  Like REALLY LOVED IT! Like EXCITED, LOOKING FORWARD TO WEDNESDAYS LOVED IT!  What took place in the first hour was mainly a filtering process on making sure the students signed up for the correct course (a lot of bureaucratic stuff that I won't go into).  Let's just say they had the fear of God put in them and Melissa and I were left to try to diffuse the tension.  LOTS of smiles, LOTS of head nods in understanding, LOTS of reassurence given that our sole purpose was to help the students any way we can and in the process have fun with it...because you know teaching should actually BE fun and engaging...not that many seem to be aware of that these days.  So as the fear of God was placed upon this class of 27 students and our smiles seemed to ease the shock on their faces, they eventually were able to relax a bit.  We were then able to actually talk to the students, not address them as "Lecturer" to student but actually talk to them and explain to them what we would be doing in the class.

Here is where the “GOOD COP" part of my title comes in.  After the students settled down, one student said to me...“You were playing Good Cop/Bad Cop (with finger pointed at me, a wink in his eye and a smile on his face)...YOU were Good Cop!  Thank you for that".  That comment made my month...for the first time I felt as if I can really, truly make a difference here and go figure that it will be with the U o M International students.  After that, it was pie.  Melissa and I stood up on a platform, worked in tandem to explain the outline of the course, spoke about ourselves, learned about our students and laughed with them...A LOT!  It felt really good up there, almost too good for me because I am not always the most comfortable speaking in front of people.  It goes to show that if you set the right tone, and put out good vibes, you get good vibes back.  The students were so comfortable with us by the end of the hour that they stayed after class to talk to us, to get to know us more and learn about where we are from in the U.S. and what it is like.  I don't know about any of you, but I know that is a rarity in college in the U.S.

I don't know, but if this positive feeling continues through the entire course, and it turns out to be a more favorable part of my assignment (as I really believe it will be), the possibility of more studies could very well be in my future.  It's funny how things play out sometimes because I had a professor tell me that once I was done with my Master's, I will eventually need to go for my PhD because it is a fluid “next step", that it is something I should want for myself.  I thought my professor was crazy for suggesting it (and she wasn't the only one who did) but now I see where she was coming from.  This experience is going to challenge and push me in ways that will force me outside of my comfort zone and after Wednesday, I am actually becoming more and more okay with that because life is about opportunity and learning and growing, so who knows what the future has in store for me.  For now, I am happy to be "Good Cop" for a group of International students because that is what every teacher should be for their students no matter what level you teach:-).

Until next time all:-)


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Birgu Festival 2012: Where an entire city was a glow by candlelight, my heart was captured and my soul filled.

Birgu (pronounced beer-gu) is one of the ancient cities of Malta and one of the three cities of the Knights of St. John, it is also known as Vittoriosa.  The other two cities that make up the three cities is Senglea and Bormla, a.k.a. Cospicua.  Birgu is a beautiful, fortified city that is similar to Mdina where it literally makes you feel as if you have been transported back in time.  The cobblestone streets and alleyways, twists and turns, make it a truly magical place.  This magic was brought to light last weekend when Melissa and I went to the Birgu Festival.  Not knowing exactly what to expect, we went knowing we would see one of our favorite things here...another beautiful, fortified city and in the process, get some good food and nouget.  As the night hit, it was as if someone waved a magic wand or sprinkled some pixie dust because right before our eyes, the city came a glow in candlelight.  Never have I seen anything more beautiful.  Not the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, nor the fireworks on July 4th in NYC,  or the lights of the Rockefellar Christmas tree could compete with what we witnessed.  Alleyways and side streets that fell dark with the night became alive in the candlelight.  We wandered through random streets in anticipation of the surprises we would find.  We turned down a very steep road that was dimly lit and came to a cul-de-sac of sorts that literally came alive right before our eyes and draped us in it's warm light.   It was such a powerful moment that completely overwhelmed us both with emotion.  An entire city comes together once a year to celebrate it's history and to show it's beauty in it's truest form.  The candlelight was so magical that it could be seen from Senglea, which is across the Grand Harbour and a ways away.  I was moved, I was speechless, I was in love.  Birgu captured my heart by revealing it's beauty in this purest form of light and filled my soul because it was the first place I have visited here that gave me a glimpse of what Malta was like about being transported back in time!

If you are thinking of visiting Malta, Birgu is a MUST SEE and if you can, I would hold off on a visit until October to visit when the Birgu Festival is on.  It is a two day event of re-enactments, museum visits, music and food but on the second day is the saying goes...the magic happens:-).

In the presence of a Pharaoh...Hound that is!


For those of you that don't know me well...I am a HUGE animal lover, especially dogs!  I am blessed to have two amazing, sweet, loving and loyal dogs in my life...Spanky, my mom's Maltipoo and Megan, my Pharaoh Hound/Border Collie mix.  Now for some irony with my being in Malta.  The Maltipoo and the Pharaoh Hound are both dogs of Malta (side note: that played absolutely no part in my decision to apply for a Fulbright to Malta, I swear!).  As the title hints, this entry is mainly about Megan.  Since adopting Megan from the ASPCA over 13 years ago, I have done a lot of research on her breed as it is in no way a common breed in the States.  When I say she is part Pharaoh Hound, part Border Collie, what I mean is that she is 99.999% Pharaoh Hound and the rest Border collie and by "the rest" I mean...long hair and floppy ears, that's about as Border Collie as she gets.  Her temperament, her stubborn but loyal heart, her personality and demeanor along with physical body features are all Pharaoh Hound.  The Pharaoh Hound's history is rooted in Egypt as they were apparently the guard dogs of royalty.  They were then brought to Malta some 2000 years ago and it is here that their breed is kept alive and true.  So you can only imagine my excitement in knowing that I would have short haired Megan's running around right? Well, not so fast.  It took over a month for me to finally see one and it happened just this week while waiting for the bus to go to work.

I was standing at the bus stop (sucking on a lollipop---LL anyone?? anyone??) ...ok we move on, FOCUS KELLY...when a woman walked by with a Pharaoh Hound.  Well you can imagine my excitement and how quickly I woke up since it was so early in the morning.  To the other people waiting for the bus I really believe they thought I must've spotted a celebrity because I literally began to follow and stare at...the dog.  It was an older dog, like Megan, white in the face and pranced as it walked just like she does.  Well what happened next was I guess to be expected but surely not at a bus stop with a bunch of strangers on a weekday morning.  For all the excitement I had in seeing my first pure bred Pharaoh Hound, an incredible sadness hit.  I'm talking a gut wrenching-ready-to-bawl-my-eyes-out sort of sadness, so I had to think quick and act fast.  Sunglasses out, placed on face and papertowel folded and ready to collect tears.  Oh yes friends there were tears.

See, Megan is our princess, she has a presence and grace unlike any other dog, yet a purity and innocence about her that eats away at your heart.  We adopted her because when I saw her at the ASPCA and saw how beautiful she was and knew the hell she had been through, I just wanted to save her, show her love and a good life.  We had just put down our Rottie/German Shepherd/Husky mix a month after her 4th birthday because she had Lymphosarcoma.  It was devastating for us but we knew it was too huge a void to let be so we adopted Megan.  Well I can tell you the tables have certainly turned over the years...she has shown us more love, more devotion, more loyalty and concern than we could have ever expected.  This is the same dog that used to sleep with me and come to me because she wanted to spoon...yes spoon!  She loves being cuddled and nuzzled and always knew I was the one happy to always oblige (sorry Sam you know it's true).

So here I am, at a bus stop, looking at this dog and feeling nothing but a longing to be with my Meggie, my little sweetart, my bubbie and I can't be. WHOA, what.a.void!  Not as happy or exciting a moment I had expected but it is the reality of my current situation, all part of the "adjustment".  Fine, I get it...I don't like it...but I get it.  A few years ago, my sister and I went to San Francisco and in this shop on Fisherman's Wharf , I found a tiny picture that reads "Home is Where the Dog is"...I remembered that picture while enduring my moment and realized Malta may never really feel completely like home to me (because you know, it is more an "experience" and journey and all)  and I am 100% ok with that because Megan is home for me, yes all, Megan trumps Malta.  I told you I was an animal lover, I clearly wasn't lying:-).

I've hit the mark...the one month mark!

So I have officially hit the one month mark here in Malta.  It was a weird play on time as there were days that I felt I had been here longer than I actually had been but then when the month mark hit, I felt like OH HECK, IT'S ALREADY BEEN A MONTH!  Well having hit the mark, I thought it best to recap.  This is what I have learned thus far in my time in Malta:

  • God knew what he was doing when Fulbright decided to award me and my roomie Melissa, a grant here.  Would in no way have made it without her here!
  • For all the advancements made in Malta, they still have a ways to go in certain areas.
  • They have AMAZING food...traditional Maltese pastizzi's are a new favorite food!
  • The Arriva bus system is the most frustrating form of transportation in existence, it makes NYC look like they have the greatest transportation system in the world (and we know how far from the truth that is).
  • The Arriva bus drivers are equally frustrating, rude and annoying in a tv character sort of way (think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld and that pretty much sums up the idea of them).
  • Malta struggles in the fashion department, especially men's fashion...The fact that most men rock a stretchy, skinny denim look is both unattractive and down-right disturbing! NO stretchy, skinny denim is not a good look for a man, and I mean NO MAN...EVER!  
  • The University is this weird place where you feel you have entered a time-warp of sorts, almost like a Twilight Zone episode, however, what I thought would be a less favorable part of my Fulbright assignment looks like it will be the more favorable part as I have some pretty awesome students---go figure!  YAY ME!
  • The lack of good coffee (and in turn, a proper caffeine kick as mostly all is instant) or truly carbonated soda make runs to Mc Donald's for a medium or large coke an actual event of the night (no lie).
  • The Maltese are for the most part very friendly people, however, they are sometimes not as nice as they make themselves out to be but then again what NYers really are right so who am I to judge, again just an observation.
Now for all "negatives" noted above and for all of the frustrations Melissa and I have had to endure this past month (oh and believe me when I tell you that they continue) there have been some incredible bright spots... what might they be you ask?

Well here are some:
  1. Being invited to an Embassy sponsored concert of Daniel Martin Moore (I highly recommend a listen, he was great!) and having an opportunity to hang out with the Ambassador, made for a pretty amazing night.
  2. Being invited to the Press Attache's house for drinks made for yet another pretty amazing night.
  3. Random leisure walks around Mdina on a late Sunday morning and witnessing a wedding in progress was, simply put, very special.
  4. Random night walks during the week along the Promenade on a balmy night as we go for bubble tea or gelato just because is something you can never beat.
  5. And of course the festivals...OH THE FESTIVALS...Notte Bianca in Valletta was fantastic but Birgu festival simply stole my heart (there will be a separate blog on this festival later).   It was simple, but absolutely mind-blowing and beautiful and of course having the night capped with us having to take 3 dghasjas (die-sa) (water taxi gondola-ish boat) just to get to Valletta made the night even more special:-).
These are the moments that we will look back on (remember the good, bad and indifferent?) that will help to remind us that this is a journey on finding ways to adjust to a completely new way of life but at the same time, to remind us not to forget to enjoy what this new life has to offer and I think Malta and I are finding a pretty good common ground.  Can't wait to see what the next month will bring!

Until next time:-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Merhba! My Official Welcome to my Blog...

MERHBA!  (That's "Welcome" in Maltese).

After  toying with the idea of whether or not to start a blog, thinking about why I would start one, questioning do I really have anything to say or share, the word "EXPERIENCE" kept coming to mind.  I realized that I can use this forum to share my "experiences" or my journey, if you will, with family, friends and anyone else interested in a quick, fun read on life in Malta for an American.  I have a place where all of my thoughts and experiences (there's that word again) as a Fulbright scholar, living abroad, working abroad, and all of the in-betweens (the good, the bad, the indifferent and most importantly, the hilariously funny) can be shared for everyone to see.

My one key thing when I decided to take the Fulbright, was that I was doing this not only for myself but for my family and friends as well, as a way to represent them and to acknowledge them for their endless support and love which has helped lead me here (to be completely honest I have a pretty amazing support system).  I always stressed that I would be taking them with me on this new adventure and so now I have a way to take a few more people along for the ride. Okay, enough mushy stuff, what can I promise you with this blog? Well I can promise that there will be days or weeks that I have much more to say than others.  I can promise I will try to make my entires as light-hearted and funny as possible and I promise to share my experiences as honestly as I possibly can, in as mature a way as possible (which sometimes is not the easiest thing to do).

So here is my official welcome to join me on this journey, a journey that will last for another 8 months, as I live the life of a Fulbright scholar (as if it is any different from anyone else's life...well maybe the hours are a little better), explore Malta, reflect on my time here, all the while taking time to travel and explore some other pretty cool places as well.   I will say thank you, in advance, for taking the time to read my blog, share my blog, and for all feedback and comments as they are most welcome.

Well, that is it for now...So Let's Ride!

Malta 2012-2013