I landed in Malta to the auspicious sound and color of fireworks, a tradition for the feast days in each of the communities on the Island.
It was hot and humid, but getting through the airport was easy. I was delighted to find that both the US Embassy cultural affairs officer and Stef, the liaison from the U of Malta (and boyfriend) were there to greet me, if only for a few minutes. They had a driver and car ready to take me to the University residence, where I still, as yet, reside.
I awoke to sunshine, the ringing of Sunday churchbells, and the sight of flowering hibiscus outside my balcony. In the courtyard of the facility I saw palms and the swimming pool. A walk, even in the heat, yielded excellent narrow and walled streets. I like peeking into gardens and looking at all the doorways and wrought iron. I found a place called San Anton gardens (presidential palace), which were lovely--I promise photos eventually. As I walked through Lija, Balzan, and Attard, all I heard was Maltese--a lovely-sounding lanugage. I can catch some English and, especially, some Italian influence in it, but it is no Romance language. It is a Semitic language, heavily influenced by Arabic. Lucky for me they ue a Latin script.
Later, a member of the faculty picked me up to look at his place in "far off" St. Paul's bay. I'd guess it is about 10 miles from the main urban area. Wow, great view of the bay in one direction and in the other of a hill. I even liked his dog. We walked the three blocks to the shore and, well, I just can't describe all the colorful boats, buildings, bathers...and that blue of the sea. He took me to a seafront restaurant and we had excellent conversation, fish, and wine. I almost took the place on the spot--and might yet do so.
Monday took me to the university, where I began the paper work and met Prof. David Attard, a distinguished maritime lawyer. He directs both the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) and the International Law part of the faculty of Law. I'll be working with both the IMLI and in the Faculty of Law. On T and W I attended a Life Long Learning conference, headed by the internationally known Peter Mayo. The Maltese attendees were primarily in nursing, but there were some educators. Most of the international attendees (Sweden, Finland, Montenegro) were actively involved in promoting life-long learning/education. Needless to say, I learned a great deal about education and nursing in Malta and in Europe. It reallly is very different from the US, a matter I will eventually take up in this blog.
Nursing in Malta is in the midst of the kind of change that nursing went through a few decades ago in the US--they are moving to full degrees and beginning to offer a graduate degree. What this means in practice is that the entire community is very open to change and possibility. Much of the emphasis in the conference was on change and, especially, on the policy and politics side of education for life. The nurses noted that they did not "do" policy, but saw its relevance. I mentioned that I had heard a nurse educator in the US, who was lamenting the sorry state of public health in the US after 9/11 (at a Homeland Security Dept meeting), say that US nurses needed policy education. At the end of the conference I offered to have coffee and policy discussions with the nurses, if they were interested. I hope we get to meet again, whether for a mutual exchange on policy or otherwise ( I got a great tip on shopping, too!).
One of the nurses on the U of M faculty said she might have an apartment. So I went and looked. Lovely area, sleek, modern. It has distant views of water and spectacular ones of the cityscape. So, I'm also considering that one. I hope to have a home in a day or two more.
After the conference, Prof. Gustafsson (Sweden) and I went by bus to Mdina, the medieval capital of Malta. We walked all through it and looked out over the island. it was something, and I will go back. We got turned around at one point, but with local help got that straightend out. He was very good company, so that will become a memorable evening of sight-seeing and exploring a new place.
Today Stef and a very kind man from shipping and I went to customs to get one of my boxes. It was one randomly selected for checking. It was a brief and friendly affair, mightily facilitated by the shipping expert who took us there. More paperwork followed on campus...and now I have network access to the university system.
Then Mr. Anderson, cultural affairs officer of the US embassy, picked me up for lunch and visit to the embassy. Due to various travels by higher ups, he was representing the US today. So, he had the ambassador's car--flying the US flag and all. Off we went, looking quite official. We talked over other things I might do while here and life and politics in Malta. I really enjoyed the conversation. I realized when we went to the embassy that I had not actually been in an embassy; I've only been in the State Department and at the Canadian Ministry of External Affairs. So, it was interesting to see the various consular functions.
There is so much more, but I'll stop for now. Too many words, no pictures!