It’s hard to begin again after such a long hiatus. Graduate school, for lack of better words, is done. All I have left is the internship credits I will be completing in Malta and four more class credits I will complete online or as independent study.
|Malta goes all out around Christmastime|
Meals with Morri, I am sad to say, was put on hold. The fall semester was freaking hard. At midterms, I just couldn’t focus. I had to give up a day of work just to have those three extra hours I didn’t have. My social life and my academic studies were greatly reduced because of recurring anxiety attacks and exhaustion. I didn’t rock climb. I didn’t do Insanity. I didn’t make recipes. I didn’t write. But I did get through it with A’s, and yes, it was worth bearing through.
So now I am in Malta for the 2014 year. I have an apartment near where I work. I spent quality time with Mama Dazz for the first ten days while I finished my finals. And for anyone who decides it is a good idea to move halfway across the world and finish three finals at the same time… seriously reconsider.
Malta is so different than Virginia: an island so compacted with people and history and streets it is easy to get overwhelmed. The culture is vibrant and intimate: everyone knows everyone. The buildings are named, and directions are based on localized markers that only the people who have lived here all their lives could possibly know. And the people are quite possibly the friendliest and most accommodating I have ever met.
As anyone with health concerns and dietary preferences can tell you, there is more to preparing for a trip than just buying the plane ticket or hotel room. There’s this physical dread of whether or not you will be able to eat anything substantial, whether or not people will understand – let alone know – what ‘[allergen] free’ is. There’s medication and supplements to have the pharmacy pack. There’s the insurance company to talk with about prescription travel overrides. There’s research on restaurants and nearby supermarkets to confirm, and whether or not the plane’s meal options are exactly what you can eat. It can be a downright terrifying experience, and you haven’t even boarded the plane yet.
But Malta is different. The Mediterranean concept of food – simple, wholesome, and adaptable – reigns supreme here. In a place where a marathon is longer than the country is and the next city is literally next to the one you are in, the term ‘local’ is serious business. Small and specialized markets are found at practically every street corner and parking lot. Depending on the time of day, a produce truck will come by with their freshly picked fruits and vegetables to sell. Orange trees are common sights, and it takes every ounce of my being to not pluck one from someone’s yard to eat something with all of its richness still intact.
Perhaps it’s the feeling that I’ve left behind all the stress, but I cannot believe how many posts I want to write: how to search for gluten free items in a new country; how to turn gluteny Maltese favorites into gluten free delights; my experiences regarding my internship in a conflict resolution perspective; rock climbing excursions; restaurant reviews and EU food policies; practicing and enhancing my photography technique; keeping in touch with the people back home and making new friends; and mainly, how Malta made this gluten freer feel welcomed, accepted, and a little more confident.
|Naturally, gelato is everywhere.|
|Homemade Gnocchi (recipe still in the works)|
I don’t know how often I’ll post, considering I’ve never really lived on my own or worked a forty-hour work week longer than a month or two before, but I am most certainly going to try to not let there be months in between. Luckily, I have CK to keep me company until after the holidays.